Perhaps you’ve heard the saying: “A messy desk is a sign of a cluttered mind.” I’m not too sure Solomon would agree, particularly in chapter 14. The NIV renders verse 4 as follows: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.” The point is, if the manger has no hay, but is clean, that means nothing is going on. You’ve got to have a work animal if you are going to have a harvest, and work animals require food and all the mess that goes along with them.
I’m not necessarily an advocate of a tidy desk, except, perhaps, at the end of a day. But a desk, like a shop or a kitchen, is going to get messy if anything is being accomplished.
Proverbs contains much financial advice, and some of it is hard to swallow. When Solomon writes “The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends” is he advising us to shun the poor or just stating a fact? Is he encouraging us to get rich?
He is certainly not advocating poverty. Proverty, in Proverbs is a sign of laziness (though not always). Nor is he urging the shunning of the poor, for twice more in this chapter alone (vss. 21 & 31) he pronounces a blessing on those who help the poor. Rather, his statement in verse 20 is to be seen as a reality. Poverty is to be avoided – and best avoided by hard work.