Three Things to Know about Wealth – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. According to Proverbs 12:27 (printed below,) how do diligent men view wealth? What is the significance of this?

The slothful man does not roast what he killed in hunting; but the wealth of men is precious to the diligent. (Proverbs 12:27)

This proverb reveals the outlook of the diligent man, it reveals how he views wealth (material prosperity): he views it as being precious. This does not necessarily mean that he idolizes wealth; but he does recognize that it is a blessing and that it is the result of industriousness. Consequently, he appreciates the wealth he attains; he does not squander it or take it for granted.

2. According to Proverbs 12:11 (printed below,) what is the way to financial stability? What should be avoided?

He who tills his land shall have a sufficient amount of bread; but he who pursues worthless things lacks understanding. (Proverbs 12:11)

Proverbs 12:11a is not so much emphasizing the promise of prosperity (the Hebrew word has the meaning of either abundance or sufficiency,) but reminding us of a fundamental biblical principle: diligence and hard work meet with God’s approval and are blessed with God’s provision. The latter half of the proverb warns against the foolishness of neglecting the God-appointed course in order to pursue “worthless things.” What is in mind here is the pursuit of “get rich quick” schemes such as playing the lottery, patronizing the casinos, gambling on “a hot tip” in the stock market or at the race track, all in an effort to get rich without having to invest the effort of hard work and industriousness.

3. According to Proverbs 13:8 (printed below,) what are the benefits and the drawbacks of wealth?

A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat. (Proverbs 13:8)

On the one hand, if a rich man is kidnapped he can purchase his release by means of his wealth. But on the other hand, a poor man does not need to worry about being kidnapped in the first place! The point of the proverb: the man who possesses material prosperity possesses a certain measure of security—his wealth can bail him out of trouble and provide him with the comforts of life. But that man also possesses a certain measure of anxiety: Is my wealth safe? Is it protected from robbers? Is my money protected from the economic robbers of rising inflation, falling stock markets or bad investments? Is my wealth protecting me, or is it making me a prime target for unscrupulous men and those looking for a handout?

4. How would you explain the meaning of Proverbs 10:15 (printed below?)

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

Money in the bank is a source of security to the man who possesses it; he has an abundant supply of resources to meet an unexpected emergency. By way of illustration: if the rich man’s roof starts to leak, he has the money to get it repaired. Conversely, lack of financial resources is what brings the poor man to ruin: when he encounters an emergency he does not have the surplus funds to pay for it, he either goes into debt or loses all he has. Again, by way of illustration: if the poor man’s roof leaks, he has no extra money to get it repaired, so he must either let the house further deteriorate or he must go into debt to pay for the roof repair, or he must sell the house.

5. What are the demeanor and the attitude of the poor man? What are the demeanor and attitude of the rich man? See Proverbs 18:23 (printed below)

A poor man pleads and begs, but a rich man answers harshly. (Proverbs 18:23)

Poverty reduces a man to a position where he must lay aside his pride and humbly plead for mercy. The poor man is forced to recognize that he has no resources; that he is dependent upon someone else for help, and this realization is reflected in his humble demeanor. Conversely, wealth may cause a man to address others in a harsh, dictatorial manner: the rich man does not need the poor; they need him. With the possession of wealth comes also the possession of power and prestige; both potent commodities that can produce pride in the heart of their possessor if he is not on guard.