Better Esteemed than Silver or Gold

Gold and silver are both very beautiful metals, for which people have risked life and limb to obtain sufficient quantities. Gold, which probably comes form the Saxon geolo meaning yellow (Latin Aurus- which may come from golden dawn) is a beautiful colour. It is also one of the least reactive metals we have, so its failure to rust and tarnish have rendered it a symbol of state and age. It’s also wonderfully ductile and malleable, so a small nugget could make several finely crafted jewellery pieces.

Silver comes from the Saxon siolfor, and the Latin argentum, which may both have come from their respective words for white, a reference to silver’s polished colour. Like gold, it’s fairly unreactive, though it tarnishes easily and is a wonderful conductor of electricity. It also has medicinal functions, with silver gauzes sometime used in bandaging. 

Two beautiful metals, expensive, useful and much sought-after. This 7.98-gram sovereign is worth about £300 (February 2020); this 31g silver crown has a scrap value of about £20 and a numismatic value of around £26. Yet wise King Solomon, who had large stocks of both, remarked:

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.(Proverbs 22:1, NIV)

He is not advocating our pursuing popularity, but a good reputation- that we be known for our honesty and integrity. Such a reputation is harder to gain than precious metal and is more easily lost. Ironically, a good name may help one obtain silver and gold. Quakers, who refused to swear oaths filled our prisons in the seventeenth century but made their fortunes in the eighteenth. Their objection to swearing and promising on the grounds that honesty should be employed all day, every day, made them wonderfully attractive business partners, traders and employees. Cadbury’s, Frys, Lloyds and Barclays are just some of the businesses whose early days were blessed by their proprietors’ good names.

Silver is attractive and gold is beautiful, but a woman or man of good reputation is worth more than their weight in both.