Proverbs 13:7-12

In Proverbs 13:7-12 Solomon tackles the topic of being rich. Material riches and wealth may be of little account for happiness in this world and especially in the world to come. One may work hard to make himself rich yet find at the end of it all that his wealth is as nothing. “One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth”. There are those who willingly make themselves poor on a material level, and do so out of generosity to others or out of fixed spiritual priorities. Such ones have great riches in this life and in the life to come. Happiness is never about money.  Happiness is a choice, and while riches could possibly influence our attitudes and actions – it does not control our choice to be happy.

Solomon goes on to tell us a man’s life can be measured in many ways. One of those measurements – though by no means the best measurement – is his riches. In a time of crisis, a man’s riches may create a conflict in his soul. “The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but a poor man hears no threat”. The poor will never find himself in the same trouble as the rich man who must make choices in his life in conflict with his riches. On the other hand, it seems Solomon may have considered that poverty comes from their moral failings. Certainly not everyone who is poor is in that condition because of their unwillingness to hear rebuke, but some are.

Righteousness – godliness as expressed in real life – is associated with light and with rejoicing. There is something wrong with the person who claims to be righteous but rarely has evidence of light and rejoicing. “The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked will be put out”. Righteousness is associated with light, but the wicked with darkness. The darkness conceived of here is imposed by the judgment of a righteous God who will put it out. Solomon then moves on to talk about insolence (or pride) – excessive self-focus and self-regard – which constantly generates strife. When people are focused on themselves they will always attempt to advance at the expense of others. “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom”. Those who listen to and receive the counsel of others walk in wisdom.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it”. This may be because God’s blessing is not upon wealth gained by dishonesty, or because such wealth was not gained by the habits of life that earn and retain wealth. God’s blessing will be on honest labor and in the practice of habits that normally earn, retain, and increase wealth. There are few things more powerful than hope. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life”. The strength of hope sustains the heart; when hope’s fulfillment is long delayed (deferred), it can make the heart sick but when it is finally fulfilled it brings long-sustained life.

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