Riches and Poverty in Proverbs

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The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: The destruction of the poor is their poverty (Proverbs 10:15, ASV).

Surely, as one can see, this proverb teaches that wealth is a strength and poverty is a weakness. As one makes use of his strength, he weathers battles much easier. On the other hand, as the poor man weathers battles he is overcome. Is this what we are to understand? The Greek translation (LXX or Septuagint) of the proverb reads this way: The wealth of rich men is a strong city; but poverty is the ruin of the ungodly (Brenton’s English translation). What you notice is the last half of the verse. It gives a different sense. Wealth is associated with strength, but the ungodly is associated with poverty. Here is another reading of the verse, this time from the New English Translation (NET): The wealth of a rich person is like a fortified city, but the poor are brought to ruin by their poverty. 

What do we make of this? As people look at life from their vantage point, and not that of God, in their practical experiences it is easy to see that wealth to a great many people believe it is their strength and muscle. The poor, however, don’t have this. Consequently, they suffer loss much more readily, perhaps quickly. From this a powerful less on can be and should be learned. Wealth comes and goes, the Lord is here for the duration. Rely on the Lord, not material possessions. 

What is the solution to such unfairness? Proverbs 10:2, Treasures of wickedness profit nothing; But righteousness delivereth from death. 

Ron Thomas
Sunrush church of Christ
Chillicothe, OH

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