Proverbs 28:11

The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.
– Proverbs 28:11

Being wise in one’s own eyes is a characteristic of a fool, regardless of the particular avenue the fool walks down (Proverbs 3:7; 12:15; 26:5, 12, 16). The foolish rich find false security in wealth (Proverbs 18:11) and here, they take credit for their situation in life. The saying contrasts the foolish rich man with the poor man who has wisdom, understanding. Wisdom looks past the facade of riches and success.

Proverbs 28:8

He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.
– Proverbs 28:8

Just as the previous saying, this wisdom saying follows the law closely (Exodus 22:24; Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:20-21). The law forbade exorbitant interest rates and prices, false scales, and other oppressive or predatory business practices. Israelites were not to profit off the poor and needy, or their family, which they were required to care for. The saying speaks to a redistribution of the gain that is consistent with other wisdom sayings (Proverbs 13:22). This saying fits in the general wisdom theme of injustice being resolved by justice.

Proverbs 28:6

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
– Proverbs 28:6

Proverbs consistently holds that wisdom does not equal wealth and folly does not equal poverty. Uprightness, or integrity, is contrasted with perverse, or twisted or crooked. This proverb is a better than saying that states honest poverty is better than dishonest riches. While it is possible to be honest and rich, as well as being dishonest and poor, the choice is often between integrity/wisdom and wealth. Crooked ways lead to destruction (Proverbs 28:18). Wisdom teaches it is better to be upright than rich, if that’s the choice before you (Proverbs 16:8; 19:1, 22).

Proverbs 27:24

For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
– Proverbs 27:24

Verse 24 gives the reason for the previous verse and is expanded on in the following verses. Flocks and herds, when properly cared for, will produce and reproduce. They are a renewable resource. Riches, or wealth accumulated, do not work the same way. The mention of the crown gives the saying its kingly flavor. The crown is like the stored wealth in that it’s not as renewable. Clearly, the establishment of the crown requires righteous care of the people (2 Samuel 23:3; Proverbs 31:3-9).

 


 

 

Proverbs 24:4

And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
– Proverbs 24:4

This verse completes the saying and the metaphor of house building. A house is not really beautiful and useful until furnished and lived in. God created the world through wisdom and furnished it for the life, learning, flourishing, and joy of man to bring glory to his Creator. We image God and walk in his way when we build through wisdom. Through wisdom we equip our families for this vocation, and wisdom is certainly not only about material possessions. Wealth laid up is symbolic of walking in wisdom (Proverbs 15:6; 21:20).

The word for knowledge means cunning, or understanding. It is one of words in Proverbs under the umbrella of wisdom. It refers to acquired knowledge. It can be used in the negative sense of a lack of knowledge, such as ignorance. The instruction and correction of wisdom gives knowledge (Proverbs 1:4; 2:6). Knowledge acquired is worth more than silver and gold stored (Proverbs 8:10).

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Proverbs 23:5

Wilt thou set thin eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
– Proverbs 23:5

Verse 5 uncovers the folly of exhausting yourself to be rich. The flying eagle is a figure of the fleeting nature of wealth. The eagle can be seen for a little while, but soon flies away out of grasp and eventually out of sight. This proverb doesn’t highlight any specific means of losing wealth, but such instances are mentioned elsewhere in Proverbs. A greedy man is in a hurry to be rich and his haste will actually turn to poverty (Proverbs 21:5; 28:22). Lovers of pleasure and indulgence will spread their wealth thin and come to rags (Proverbs 5:7-10; 23:20-21). The slothful fool will have trouble acquiring wealth, but what he will equally have trouble keeping what he has acquired (Proverbs 24:30-31; 27:23-27). Further, foolish managers and risk takers will exhaust their stores (Proverbs 21:20; 17:18; 22:26-27). So, in one way or another, riches tend to vanish away and wisdom teaches us not to set our hearts on material wealth.

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Proverbs 23:4

Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
– Proverbs 23:4

Verses 4 and 5 form the next saying, which is about the desire for wealth. The word for labor literally means to gasp and indicates being weary with toil, or exhausted. The word for rich means to accumulate and become wealthy. Wisdom warns against pursuing wealth as an object and expending much time and energy to acquire it. This warning is echoed in various ways throughout Scripture (Isaiah 55:1-3; John 6:27; 1 Timothy 6:8-10).

The word for wisdom means understanding and is often used positively in Proverbs. Here it is negative and qualified as “thine own.” Wisdom generally warns against our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). The warning in this saying speaks to stopping from our own understanding, which is tempted with riches as the solution for all our problems. Proverbs repeatedly teaches wisdom is better than riches and should be pursued as fools pursue wealth (Proverbs 2:4; 3:14-15; 8:18-19; 16:16).

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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 22:4

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honor, and life.
– Proverbs 22:4

The beginning by expresses a consequence. The condition is humility and fear of the Lord. The result, or reward, is riches, honor, and life. The word for humility means condescension, modesty, or meekness. The word is set opposite haughtiness in Proverbs 18:12. Pride brings destruction, but true honor is preceded by humility (Proverbs 11:2; 16:5, 18-19; 29:23). Fear and humility are the necessary conditions for acquiring wisdom (Proverbs 2:5; 8:13; 9:10). The rewards of wisdom are elsewhere expressed in these terms (Proverbs 3:16; 21:21).

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