Proverbs 28:22

He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.
– Proverbs 28:22

This saying continues the theme of greed from the previous one. The phrase evil eye literally means bad of eye and is contrasted with the bountiful eye, or good of eye in Proverbs 22:9. Here, hasteth to be rich is a consequence of having an evil eye. The evil eye is a recurring figure that refers to greed, covetousness, and stinginess. It is contrasted with kind generosity (Proverbs 22:9; 23:6).

The figure is first used in the books of the law in Deuteronomy 28:54-55. The wider context there are the curses upon Israel for covenant disobedience and the more immediate context is talking about famine conditions. The verses describe the severity of the judgments such that a tender man becomes hardened and stingy (evil eye) with his own wife and children in refusing to share food with them. Jesus also used this figure of greed and stinginess during his ministry (Matthew 6:23; 20:15; Mark 7:22; Luke 11:34).

Jesus spoke of the evil eye, which distorted a person’s ability to see reality clearly and the second phrase of the saying agrees with this. The stingy, greedy man is in a hurry to get rich and considereth not, or does not know, the consequences of poverty to come. On the one hand, wisdom has cried out in the streets a warning for the covetous in a hurry to be rich (Proverbs 10:22; 19:2; 20:21; 21:15). The evil eye is darkened and turned away from wisdom and so does not know or consider the end (Proverbs 7:23; 9:18).

Proverbs 28:20

A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
– Proverbs 28:20

This saying continues the the theme of rewards for diligence and the condemnation of greed. The word for faithful means steadfast, stable, reliable. Contextually, it refers to honest and diligent work. The rewards are multiplied blessings. Read in the context of wisdom sayings and inferred from the meaning of faithful, the rewards come over time so that patience in implicit in the first phrase as well.

The contrasting phrase contains an irony by speaking of the haste to be rich. The saying doesn’t contrast the diligent with the slothful, though many sayings do just that. The saying contrasts faithful work over time with a hurry to get rich. The former will be rewarded and the latter will be punished, for that is the indication of not be innocent. This saying accords with the general tenor of wisdom (Proverbs 13:11, 22-23; 20:21; 21:5, 25).

Proverbs 27:20

Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
– Proverbs 27:20

The words for hell and destruction are sheol and abaddon in the Hebrew, and occur in Proverbs 15:11 (see comments for discussion of meaning). Here, they are never full and that refers to the grave as insatiable. We might say something like the funeral home and cemetery are always in business. Proverbs 30:15-16 has the same sense where sheol is translated grave. The figure is: the grave is always hungry and ready to swallow up lives.

The parallel comparison is to the insatiable desires of men. Man’s insatiable desires also destroy lives and that is a subtext in the comparison.

 


 

 

Proverbs 21:26

He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
– Proverbs 21:26

This proverb continues from the previous one and describes the desire of the slothful. Greed marks the slothful and unrighteous. Greed contributes to their ruin (Proverbs 15:27; 28:22, 25). The antithesis in the second phrase shows generosity a mark of the righteous. Generosity is set against greedy coveting by showing the righteous giving without restraining their giving (Proverbs 11:24-26; 14:21, 31; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27).

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Proverbs 15:27

He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
– Proverbs 15:27

The word for greedy means covetous, but also violence. The greedy want gain at all costs, even to death (Proverbs 1:19). They are in a hurry to get rich (Proverbs 28:22). Greed is a driving force rather than wisdom and brings trouble, or disturbance, to his own house (Proverbs 11:29). The contrasting phrase juxtaposes life, so we infer pursuing greed leads to death (Proverbs 11:19). The way of wisdom and way of life is to hate gifts (Proverbs 8:13). The word for gifts means a present. The word sometimes means a bribe and Proverbs warns against bribes to pervert justice (Proverbs 28:16; 29:4).

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Proverbs 11:24

There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
– Proverbs 11:24

This proverb and the next two deal with generous giving and its reward. This first proverb reveals God’s counterintuitive economy. The one who scatters is the one who gives generously with an open hand. It would seem that generous giving would diminish and reduce a person to poverty. Yet, wisdom teaches the contrary that it increases a person. He that withholds is stingy, greedy, and grasping. They cannot and will not give because they believe it will lead them to poverty. Yet, wisdom teaches that is exactly what happens to those who withhold.

The few proverbs here don’t give a full explanation of the rewards for giving, but we can fill out that picture from the rest of Scripture. Some have erred badly here by supposing they have found some secret to growing rich on this earth. Prosperity preachers grow rich by selling this erroneous notion to eager coveters. God does reward generous giving (Deuteronomy 15:10-11; Psalm 112:9; 2 Corinthians 9:6-9). The few verses referenced sufficiently show that God’s reward of giving is not to make a person wealthy on this earth. He rewards giving by the giver having sufficient for his needs and to keep on giving. Unquestionably, some of those rewards are spiritual rewards and treasure laid up in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).

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Proverbs 1:19

So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
– Proverbs 1:19

It is a mark of wisdom in Proverbs to look ahead and consider the end of one’s actions. It is equally a mark of folly to rush ahead without due consideration of the consequences. Fools either fail to consider the consequences or they lack wisdom so their assessment of the consequences is false.

Solomon identifies the “ways” of those motivated by greed. He has many things to say in Proverbs concerning ill-gotten gain, the lust for it, and the ruin it brings. Paul identified such greed as “the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10) and “idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).

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