Proverbs 22:1 begins a new subunit of Proverbs. Like many sections of Proverbs, it begins with a charge to acquire wisdom. One of the byproducts of wisdom is acquiring a good name. Proverbs asserts that no amount of riches can compare to the wisdom of the sages.
A good name is to be more desired than great wealthThough not always stated explicitly, the value of a good name underlies many of the sayings in Proverbs (Proverbs 10:7, 11:16, 22, 27, 12:8, 13:15, 18:3, 21:21, 27:21). The word “good” is not actually in the Hebrew text of Proverbs 22:1 but is supplied by the translators to make the meaning clearer. The importance of a good name (or reputation) is a biblical concern (Ecclesiastes 7:1; Sirach 41:11-13). Including becoming a great nation, one of the promises God initially makes to Abraham is that his name will be great (Genesis 12:2). Having a good name was of the upmost importance in the ancient world.
Favor is better than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1 NASB)
Do you think a good name is as valued today as it was in the time of Abraham? When you think of having a good name, who do you think of? Do you think you carry a good name? Which would you prefer, a good name or great riches?
Most people would like to have both a good name and great riches. This proverb juxtaposes the two. Do you feel the two are mutually exclusive? Can you have a good name and great wealth? Which do you think society promotes? What truly motivates you, a good reputation or a substantial bank account?
Where do you spend most of your time and money? That is likely what you value.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” - Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:16 NASB