The General Conditions of a Good Name
Proverbs 22:1-5
A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.


1. Riches. (Ver. 1.) Riches have their worth; reputation has its worth; but the latter is of an order altogether different from the former. The former gives a physical, the latter a moral, power. It is right that we should have regard to the opinion of good men. "An evil name shall inherit disgrace and reproach," says Sirach 6:1. And we have, as Christians, clearly to think of the effect a good or evil name must have upon "them that are without" (1 Corinthians 5:12; 1 Corinthians 10:31, sqq.; Philippians 4:8).

2. Again, poverty with a good name is infinitely preferable to riches associated with an evil character (ver. 2). It is according to general laws of providence that one is rich, the other poor. The great point is to recognize that we cannot all possess the lower good, but that the higher good is offered to all, made the duty of all to seek. Let the poor man not exaggerate the worth of riches, nor murmur against God, but humble himself under his hand, and trust the promises of his Word (Matthew 5:3). And let the rich man not put his confidence in riches (1 Timothy 6:17), but lay up an inward store against the time to come. It is religion alone which solves the contradiction between riches and poverty by reducing both under the true standard of value.


1. Prudence. (Ver. 3.) To foresee evil at a distance - to have a cultivated spiritual sense, analogous to the keen scent of the lower animals, that may enable us to detect the danger not apprehensible by the duller sense - is necessary to our safety. And what is necessary to safety is necessary ultimately with a view to the good name. To go too near the fire may lead to the scorching of the reputation, if not to the loss of the life. To conceal ourselves beneath the wings of the Almighty and to abide in communion with God (Psalm 91:1) is the best refuge from all danger.

2. Humility. (Ver. 4.) He that would attain to the glory must first "know how to be abased." Clearly to recognize our position and part in life always implies humility. For it is always less and lower than that which imagination dreams. Another important lesson from this verse is that reputation and the good attached to it come through seeking something else and something better. To do our own work is really to do something that has never been attempted before. For each of us is an original, and success in that which is peculiar to us brings more honour than success in a matter of greater difficulty in which we are but imitators of others.

3. The fear of God. (Ver. 4.) Religion gives reality to character. And reputation must at last rest on the presence of a reality; and those who have it not are perpetually being found out.

4. Rectitude of conduct. (Ver. 5.) What pains, anxieties, what dangers, rebuffs, and disappointments, and what loss of all that makes life sweet and good, do not the dishonest in every degree incur! The path of rectitude and truth seems rugged, but roses spring up around it, so soon as we begin fairly to tread it; the way of the transgressors seems inviting, but is indeed "hard." - J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

WEB: A good name is more desirable than great riches, and loving favor is better than silver and gold.

The Elements of the Great and Good are Not
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