The Last Mournful Note
Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show
restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they
will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
— Proverbs 23:4–5
Why are so many obsessed with wealth? On one level, gold does glitter, giving the appearance of prominence and power for those who possess it. Money can create the illusion that the good times will roll on forever; that the lavish parties of the rich are the only worthwhile reality, and that the music will play on and on as the spectral guests dance into the early hours of the morning.
In this setting of extravagance, everything appears to be perfect, but soon enough, time ripples over the scene, and all that remains in the end is a wrecked vestige of what was before. The band is now playing its last mournful note, the guests are departing, and the despoiled tables have lost their ordered elegance.
Wisdom says, “Though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them” (Psalm 62:10). Money has the power to hold back the ravages of time for a period, but before long, the clock will exact its sweet revenge. If we stake everything on the deceptive power of money, and what it buys, we will always fear that the cold breath of mortality will find a way back into the innermost chambers of the gilded places. For despite our futile efforts, we sense in our hearts that our “days are like a fleeting shadow” (Psalm 144:4) that “vanish like smoke” (Psalm 102:3).