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 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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