Proverbs 23:21

For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
– Proverbs 23:21

The word for poverty means dispossessed, which can be inheritance but at least denotes impoverishing loss. Wisdom here looks to the end of the way of drunkards and gluttons. The word for drowsiness means sleepiness, and is put for indolence. The saying likely includes a third form of excess, indulging in sleep and rest. This is a feature of the sluggard, with the same consequences (Proverbs 6:9-11; 19:15; 24:30-34). All could be generally characterized as lovers of pleasure, and their fate is the same (Proverbs 21:17).

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Proverbs 22:7

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
– Proverbs 22:7

Wealth brings independence as well as power, at least in terms of leverage. The rich have many friends and can call in many favors (Proverbs 19:4, 6). The wealthy are in power over the poor, whether directly or indirectly (Proverbs 18:23). We tend to look on poverty as a voluntary condition, and it can be so, as in the case of laziness (Proverbs 10:4; 12:11; 14:23; 20:13, 21). Poverty can also be a providential condition owing to no personal fault (Proverbs 14:31; 22:2). The second phrase states the direct dependence of the poor in terms of the borrower serving the lender. The law had many regulations for treatment of the poor, including provisions when a poor man became a slave to pay his debts (Exodus 21:1-7; Leviticus 25:40-43; Deuteronomy 15:12-15). Wisdom teaches to use all diligence to avoid this servitude, but does not guarantee it can be avoided.

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Proverbs 22:2

The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
– Proverbs 22:2

This proverb is a wisdom observation. We are warned against oppressing the poor because Yahweh has made them (Proverbs 14:31). This proverb adds he has made the rich, as well as all in between. That both classes meet together means they share common existence in life. God sinks and raises people as he pleases, according to his purpose, and roles can be reversed instantly by his sovereign power (Daniel 4:35). This wisdom gives us two important implications for life. First, we should recognize God’s sovereign order in our own lives. We are where we are and we are what we are by God’s grace. Second, we should treat all people with dignity and respect because God is the creator of all and the ruler of all.

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Proverbs 21:20

There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.
– Proverbs 21:20

This proverb is straightforward and we shouldn’t pull its punch by trying to spiritualize it. Wisdom says the wise lay up in store and the foolish squander all they have. The word for wise means skillful and is used throughout Proverbs to refer to living prudently and righteously. Proverbs never instructs to seek wealth (Proverbs 23:4-5; 28:22), nor does it instruct to seek poverty (30:7-9). Rather, Proverbs instructs to sacrificially and persistently seek wisdom, for it is more important and valuable than earthly treasures (Proverbs 2:2-4; 3:14-15; 8:18-19; 16:16; 23:23). While Proverbs never promises wealth to those who acquire wisdom, wealth will generally come to those who acquire money wisely (Proverbs 10:4; 11:8; 16:11; 21:6; 22:22-23), and use money wisely (Proverbs 3:9-10, 27-28; 6:6-8; 11:24-26; 13:22; 22:9; 28:27; 31:16, 20-22). Proverbs also warns that wealth can be lost through folly (Proverbs 11:6; 21:5; 23:20-2124:30-31; 27:23-27; 28:22).

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Proverbs 21:17

He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.
– Proverbs 21:17

Loving pleasure, or joy, and wine and oil means pursuing and indulging in luxury. Wisdom warns such pursuits and indulgences lead to poverty. The word for poor means need, or lack. The word for rich means wealth, or abundance. The just in Proverbs 21:15 do not pursue pleasure (the same word is translated joy there) as an end in itself, but rather pursue judgment and find pleasure. The problem is not with the wine, oil, or even pleasure, but rather with the misplaced love that gluttonously pursues them. A greedy appetite will never be satisfied (Ecclesiastes 5:10) and will leave a man in rags (Proverbs 23:21).

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Proverbs 21:5

The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.
– Proverbs 21:5

The word for thoughts means device, or plans. The plans of the diligent, or determined, are in view. It is contrasted with hasty in the second line, which means hurried. The word for plenteousness means gain, or profit. The word for want means lack, or poverty. Proverbs commends diligence and observes diligence being generally rewarded with gain (Proverbs 10:4; 13:4; 22:29; 27:23-27). From the different proverbs about diligence, we see the diligent make wise plans and work hard to execute those plans and generally make a gain.

By contrast, poverty is the gain of sluggards (Proverbs 10:4). This proverb does not mention the sluggard, but rather the hasty. Proverbs condemns haste as folly (Proverbs 14:29). Haste here contrasted with the plans of diligence suggests a haste to be rich, or the hatching of schemes for shortcuts to wealth. Wisdom condemns these schemes as having an evil eye (Proverbs 28:22). This proverb then contributes to the catalog of ways to poverty. Poverty can be reached through stingy greed (Proverbs 11:24), by talk without action (Proverbs 14:23), by gain through oppression (Proverbs 22:16), and here by haste (Proverbs 21:5).

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Proverbs 19:7

All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him! He pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.
– Proverbs 19:7

The kin of the poor are said to hate him. His friends have even less reason or attachment and so abandon him as well. The word for pursueth means to run after, and he has nothing to offer them but his words, or pleadings (Proverbs 18:23). The poor man has no leverage or natural attraction for people, so he is hated by all (Proverbs 14:20). This proverb furthers the observations of Proverbs 19:4, 6.

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Proverbs 19:4

Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor.
– Proverbs 19:4

The word for maketh means to add. Wealth adds many friends, or continues to add them. The word for friends is a common and general word that can cover a range of associations. The same word is translated neighbor in the second phrase. The contrast indicates the poor lose friends as the rich add them (Proverbs 14:20). This proverb is a wisdom observation and complements Proverbs 18:24.

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Proverbs 19:1

Introduction
Chapter 19 continues the proverbs of Solomon. The chapter touches on friendships, wealth, laziness, the home, and more.

Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
– Proverbs 19:1

We expect the poor to be contrasted with the rich, and Proverbs 28:6 does that in a similar proverb. So the fool in the second phrase is understood to be a wealthy fool. The word for integrity means completeness, or innocence in the sense of being blameless. It is sometimes translated as upright. Walking uprightly means having wisdom and walking in wisdom (Proverbs 2:6-7; 13:6; 20:7). The word for perverse means distorted, or crooked. It is sometimes translated as froward. Cleverness is implicit in the twisting of words by the obstinate fool. Being poor and possessing wisdom is possible and better than being such a rich fool.

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