Proverbs 19:22

The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.
– Proverbs 19:22

The word for desire means longing, or object of desire. The word for kindness means mercy, or loving kindness. Since it is contrasted with lying here, it refers to faithful, or loyal, kindness. The true worth of a man is measured in his loyalty and faithfulness, not his wealth. This makes a poor man better than a liar, though he is rich (Proverbs 19:1). Proverbs doesn’t exalt poverty of itself. There’s nothing inherently virtuous or meritorious in poverty. Poverty with wisdom is often contrasted with having wealth with folly or wickedness, and poverty is then better (Proverbs 8:11; 15:16-17; 16:8; 17:1; et al).

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Proverbs 16:16

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!
– Proverbs 16:16

Verse 16 starts a new group of proverbs themed around general wisdom. This group goes through verse 30 and touches on general wisdom topics, e.g., wealth, speech, work, etc. The word for better means good in its root form and is used here comparatively. The second phrase of this proverb is likewise comparative in choosing to get understanding over silver. Comparison is common in the Proverbs and it means the things compared are not antithetical. So here, wisdom and wealth are compared, but not shown to be opposites. The proverb states it’s better, or more important, to seek and acquire wisdom than gold and silver.

Proverbs mentions many things better than wealth: righteousness or justice (Proverbs 15:27; 16:8); family love (Proverbs 15:17; 17:1); and honesty and integrity (Proverbs 19:1, 22). Proverbs emphatically teaches wisdom is better than wealth (Proverbs 3:15-18; 8:10-11, 19). Choose wisdom above all, whether wealth comes or not (Proverbs 4:7).

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Proverbs 8:11

For wisdom is better than rubies; and all things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.
– Proverbs 8:11

Silver, gold, and precious stones have a sort of intrinsic value and rarity. They are the pinnacle of objective value, though all men esteem them not equally. All things that may be desired is more subjective but expands the range of prized things to include anything a man may prize. These are things men give their life for to obtain. On all accounts, wisdom is more surpassingly valuable than anything highly prized among men. It follows that men should search more diligently and attend more immediately to wisdom than all earthly riches.

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