There is one who pretends to be rich and yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor and yet possesses great wealth.
The ransom of a person’s life is his wealth,
but the poor person hears no threat.
The first proverb is an unusual one. It breaks the mold that most proverbs seem to follow. So far, most of the proverbs we have covered have been contrast proverbs – The righteous do this, but the wicked do this. But today, we just have a description of how some who are rich pretend not to be rich and some who are poor pretend not to be poor. While there is nothing that says right or wrong, honesty is still a big deal in the proverbs, so we must apply the principle of honesty to this proverb as well. Hiding your social status doesn’t do you any good. It’s best to be honest.
The second proverb talks about the rich and poor again, and is once again more descriptive. The wealthy will have to use their wealth to pay ransom for their life, but the poor don’t get threatened because they don’t have money – and if they do they don’t hear the threat because there is nothing they can do about it.
These are interesting proverbs as they break the mold. Honestly, they’re hard to deal with because of that. However, we do still see principles.
When you have a lot of money and possessions, you also have a lot of worries and the potential for big problems. You may spend your life accumulating great wealth only to have it stolen or to have to turn in over in order to save your life or another’s. While we don’t see warnings to not be rich, there are warnings about things that happen when you do have money. We should be careful not to say that it is better to be poor as I don’t see that in this proverb. The point isn’t how much you have, the point is what you do with it.
If you are rich, but you are a good steward of what you have and are generous with it – then that is a good thing. If you are poor, but you cling to every penny you have and don’t honor God with it, that is a bad thing as well. The point isn’t to avoid money or to worship money. The point is money isn’t the point, God is.