Honor the LORD With Your Substance
by Ronald W Robey

Proverbs 3:9-10 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

Many pastors will use this verse in an attempt to prove that we are to give a monetary tithe to the Church, pointing out that the word “substance” in verse nine means “wealth” and is speaking of the tithe. To prove that it is speaking of the tithe the pastor will often quote Malachi 3:10-11, which says:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.

It is clear that both the Proverbs passage and the Malachi passage are speaking of God blessing with an increase of crops. But are the two passages speaking of the same thing? The answer would depend upon the interpretation of the Hebrew word “hown” found in Proverbs 3:9.

The Hebrew word “hown” found in Proverbs 3:9 is a word that the Hebrews used to signify wealth. When we think of wealth today, we think of money, i.e.; silver, gold, dollars, cents, lira, yen, pesos, etc., etc.

However if “hown” is speaking of that which is to be tithed, then substance (wealth) in Proverbs 3:9 cannot be speaking of money in any form. We know this because of what God declares His holy tithe to consist of in His word.

At the time of king Solomon’s reign, (the primary author of the Proverbs) the children of Israel were under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law. Under the Mosaic Law, money was not tithed.

Leviticus 27:30-34 says:

Leviticus 27:30-34 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD. He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed. These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.

In the above passage, we see that the tithe of the land was the seed of the land; (edible products harvested from the ground) the fruit of the tree; (edible products harvested from trees) and every tenth livestock animal that passed under the rod. (as the livestock owner was counting them) The tithe only consisted of agricultural products… it was never money!

It is clear to see that in light of what God said the tithe consisted of, Proverbs 3:9 could not have been speaking of monetary wealth if the verse is referring to Gods commanded tithe.

Some may argue that silver and gold are mined from the ground and dollars are made of cotton and linen, which are by-products of sheep, and therefore money is to be tithed. This cannot be true, for neither our dollars, nor our coins are raw material. .They are all processed materials

For dollars, man shears a sheep and that wool passes through many hands in the process of merging wool with linen to manufacture a paper-like material and ultimately to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving where inks are printed on it to transform it into our modern dollar.  The same can be said of our coins. Silver, gold, copper, nickel and zinc are mined from the ground, sent to refiners, then to the mint where they are again melted and poured into die casts that give to us pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, etc..

In Matthew 22:17-21, Jesus tells His audience that money that has been stamped with the ruling government’s image on it belongs to the ruling government. In other words, it is man’s invention, not God’s creation. God created the silver and gold, yes. But man took that silver and gold and made it into something God never intended it to be,… a product of man’s design.

Money is the product of man’s imagination, agricultural produce are the product of God’s design.

If, however, the word “hown” were speaking of all wealth; i.e., possessions, dollars, coins, etc., then Proverbs 3:9 cannot be referring to tithing at all since the Law did not require the Israelite to tithe his money.

Then, the key word of Proverbs 3:9 would have to be the Hebrew word “kabad”, translated “Honour”. The Hebrew word “kabad” was used to demonstrate ‘responsibility.’ It simply meant ‘to be chargeable to.’ The children of Israel had a responsibility to be faithful stewards with their wealth, being careful of how they used it. That is what the word ‘kabad’ signified.

I believe that Proverbs 3:9 is Solomon instructing his son to be responsible with his wealth, He was not saying “Tithe your silver”.

This would mean being responsible with all agricultural crops, giving the tenth of those crops to whom God had ordained to receive the tenth. It would also mean not being wasteful with the food that God had provided for man’s sustenance. And yes…not being wasteful with the monetary wealth as well.

Proverbs 3:9 also speaks of firstfruits, which Deuteronomy 26:1-4 describes as a small handful or basket of fruit given as a small token from agricultural crops at the beginning of harvest.

Solomon wrote: “Honour the LORD with thy substance, AND with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” The word “AND” in Proverbs 3:9 signifies the LORD required something in addition to responsibility, in addition to the tithe,… He also required an offering of firstfruits.