Gleanings from the Proverbs – Poor and Rich: True Riches Come From God


Proverbs 10:22: the blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

We should help the poor, and not trust in riches, which fly away. It is better to be neither poor nor rich. When God blesses a man to be rich, He also gives contentment, happiness, and peace, which amounts to a double blessing! Ordinarily, riches bring a measure of fear, greed, guilt, hoarding, labour, pride, vanity, or worry. Wealth can be more trouble than good! But the blessed God of heaven is able to give riches without their attendant sorrows!

Only fools think riches have no sorrow. Solomon wrote more than the book of Proverbs. He also wrote an inspired philosophy of life called Ecclesiastes, in which he documented the pain and trouble of wealth (Ec 2:17-23; 4:4-8; 5:10-17; 6:1-2). He called the troubles of the rich a sickness and evil disease, and he said this sorrowful condition was common.

Read this rich king’s wise comparisons. “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith” (Pr 15:16). “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Pr 15:17). “Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit” (Eccl 4:6). Poverty can be better!

Rich men fear losing their riches: there are competitors to worry about; the propensity to consume takes profits; they know death ends the good life; they dread the tax man more than a thief; and the thought of a foolish heir wasting their estate is horrifying. Similar factors apply to greed, guilt, hoarding, labour, pride, vanity, and worry.

Most men get rich as a result of time and chance – not from diligence, skill, strength, or wisdom (Eccl 9:11). Of course, God rules all time and chance (Pr 16:33; Eccl 7:14). Some men are cursed with riches. Pharaoh is a great example (Ex 9:16). And it is called the prosperity of fools, when God blesses a fool with riches to deceive other fools (Pr 1:32).

Promotion comes from the Lord (Ps 75:6-7). When God promotes a man to be rich as a blessing, He is kind enough to also give that man the spiritual gifts to be content, happy, generous, and secure in his wealth (Eccl 2:24,26; 3:13; 5:18-19). Such men are not dependent on their wealth, and they would be just as happy if it all went away from them. In fact, these men happily scatter their wealth by giving it to the poor (I Tim 6:17-19).

What are the lessons? Human effort without God’s blessing will not work (Ps 127:1). Riches bring sorrow, so it is dangerous to desire them (I Tim 6:6-10). The only wealth you want is by God’s blessing, for He gives contentment and peace with it (Ec 5:19). A happy and successful life requires factors other than riches (Pr 16:16; 17:1; 28:6). While the wicked eat the bread of sorrows, the righteous man sleeps sweetly (Ps 127:2; Ec 5:12).

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