Summary: Part 10 of the Sermon Series, "Rich Man Poor Man in Proverbs"
"The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the maker of them all. The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them" (Prov. 22:2-5).
Hebrew parallelism in Proverbs 22:2-5 makes us see the connection.
A The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is
the maker of them all. (v. 2) [Rich and Poor Owe It All to God, Indicating the Need for Humility]
B The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (v. 3) [How Prudent and
Foolish People Handle Danger]
A1 The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life (v. 4) [Riches—the Result of Humility and
Fear of God]
B1 Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them (v. 5) [How
Prudent and Foolish People Handle Danger] 43
Six business tycoons from the Philippines made it to Forbes Magazine’s 2012 list of richest people on the planet. SM group founder, Henry Sy, leads the list. It includes Lucio Tan, Andrew Tan, Enrique Razon Jr., Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., and Roberto Ongpin. It was the first time for Cojuangco and Ongpin to join the list of the world’s dollar billionaires.
The top billionaire of Forbes’ global list is Mexican Carlos Slim, 72, who has an estimated net worth of $69 billion. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 56, is second and investment guru Warren Buffet, 81, chair of Berkshire Hathaway, third.44
I wonder why they do not publish the poorest people on the planet!
Lines A and A1 appear to be step-parallel statements, with new elements in Line A1 (“humility and fear of the LORD”) building a climactic conclusion (the reward of riches). Lines B and B1 are synonymous statements telling how prudent and foolish people handle danger.
In Line A, the verb “meet” (pagash) means “meet each other” in the niphal stem.45 The rich and poor encounter each other. The rich and the poor will always meet each other. Rich and poor will always be there. It is because God makes both the rich and the poor. The word “maker” is not a noun in the Hebrew text, but a verb, ‘a’a, which refers to the “fashioning of an object” (Gen. 8:6; 33:17; Ex. 25:10-11, 13, 17).46 God makes both the rich and the poor.
Another wisdom source, Job 34:17-19, asserts, "Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty, who says to a king, ‘Worthless one,’ and to nobles, ‘Wicked man,’ who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?"
Sirach 11:14, a Jewish interpretation, states, "Prosperity and adversity, life and death, poverty and riches, come of the Lord."47 Wisdom literature, ancient Hebrew life, the OT prophets, and Second Temple literature recognize the concept of equality between rich and poor. In this light, rich and poor meet together. Each has its own social and economic rights. They must regard each other with equal respect and kindheartedness.48 They must value each other. Such is the will of their Maker.
In Line A1, riches are the reward of humility and the fear of God. This is the reward of the righteous. Comparing Line A and Line A1, we infer one implication—the rich and poor owe it all to God. The rich owe their riches to God. The poor owe their livelihood to God. Since you owe your riches to God, be humble before God. Since you owe your living to God, fear God. You should see life in an attitude of humility and fear of God.
But therein is your reward. As you become humble before God and fear God, God will reward you with riches, honor, and life. "The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life" (Prov. 22:4). This verse repeats Proverbs 21:20-21—"Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor."
We learn the following key principles on how to find riches, honor, and life. First, seek righteousness and you will find it. Second, be kind to others and you will find life and honor. Third, be humble and fear God and you will find riches and life.
Compare Prov. 21:20 with Prov. 21:17. Prov. 21:20: "Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it." Prov. 21:17: "Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich."