The Rich and the Poor
1. This chapter mentions the poor several times: verses 2, 7, 9, 16, 22.
2. I Kings 10:23 – King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.
3. Solomon was the richest king on earth in his day. He knew about the rich.
4. Although the richest man on earth, he was compassionate towards the poor and expressed that compassion in several ways in Proverbs.
5. Also, because he observed human behavior so closely, he also knew something about the poor. He notes a similarity between the rich and poor in this verse.
A. The Two Groups
1. The rich: It refers to wealthy individuals with considerable power and influence, economically, socially, and politically. They have clout in the world.
2. The poor: a state of not having enough income or means of livelihood for normal essential needs; he has few resources and little standing or influence in a society.
3. There are two groups in every society: the rich and the poor.
4. Mark 14:7 – Until the coming of the Kingdom when poverty is virtually wiped out, the poor will always be with us.
a. We live in a cursed earth… in which the god of this world fosters the selfishness, greed, laziness, and slothfulness that already resides in the fallen hearts of sinful men.
b. According to Jesus, we will always LOSE in the war on poverty.
c. You will never cure poverty without curing those “heart” issues.
d. That doesn’t mean that we should not try to help alleviate the problem of poverty, but we shouldn’t have any dreamy-eyed expectations of eradicating it.
e. The poor will always be with us… and so will the rich.
B. The Two Groups Meet Together
1. Meet together: Two possible meanings:
a. To join together; to come in contact with.
b. To have in common.
2. FIRST MEANING: It IS true that these two groups DO come in contact with each on occasion.
a. The rich live in gated communities—to keep the undesirable riffraff out… but they cannot avoid contact with the poor altogether.
b. Although the rich usually like to keep to themselves, there is some mingling.
c. When the rich travel to their luxury hotels in Mexico or the islands, they come in contact with the poor.
d. Sometimes wealthy landowners and government officials in Africa have to travel to the oppressed regions of their country and do come in contact with those who are starving.
e. As they are being chauffeured to their million dollar suite, they sometimes see the homeless living in cardboard huts along the side of the road.
f. Contact between the rich and poor can make for some very uncomfortable and awkward moments.
g. Though Solomon was an extremely wealthy man, he frequently came in contact with the poor; especially as he functioned as a judge.
3. SECOND MEANING: While there may be many things that are vastly different about these two segments of society, there are some things that both groups have in common: the Lord made them all!
a. That seems to be the way the term “meet together” is used in this passage – to have in common.
b. We all have the same Maker—rich or poor.
c. There is one God over all.
d. The first part of the proverb states that the rich and the poor share something in common.
1. The Lord is the MAKER
a. Maker: This term is from a verb meaning to do, to make, to accomplish, to complete. God as the Maker is a synonym for God as Creator.
b. The fact of the existence of these two groups is to be traced back to God: to His providence and to His sovereignty.
c. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. That is His right as Sovereign and Creator.
d. Ecc. 5:19 – Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.
• Some might dispute that fact and claim that their wealth was not GIVEN to them by God. They had to EARN it!
• Deut. 8:18 – For it is HE that giveth thee power to get wealth.
e. I Sam. 2:7-8 – The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich.
• God is sovereign over life and death… who dies and who lives. He appoints the time of death.
• God is also sovereign over who advances and who does not… in every realm: finances; political power; businesses; whether barren of many children; even the size of churches.
• This is a great truth for both rich and poor to consider:
» The rich: Don’t look down on the poor; God could easily knock you down off your frail, temporal, economic pedestal! (Nebuchadnezzar)
» The poor: Don’t despise the rich. God set them in their place for His purpose.
» And hope for the poor too: God could easily lift up the beggar out of his dunghill… and set him on a throne.
» The Bible is full of examples of men whom God raised up out of obscurity to become powerful leaders: Joseph; Moses; David; Daniel. They each have stories to tell of God’s sovereignty in their lives… and changing the whole course of their lives.
2. The Lord made them ALL.
a. He made both groups. In this sense, they are all the same.
b. This is what they have in common.
c. They are all His creatures. (Fallen, sinful creatures in need of a Savior!)
d. Their differing social and economic statuses separate them from man’s perspective, but not from God’s perspective.
e. We look out on the sea of humanity and see the rich and the poor; we see humanity divided up according to groups that we have invented.
f. This goes beyond just rich and poor—also race, ethnicity; educated and uneducated; right down to what country and even city you were born in… etc.
g. When God looks out over the sea of humanity, He doesn’t see our social status; He sees nothing but His creatures made in His image.
h. Acts 17:26 – “He hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” God sees humanity as all the same… one blood… one race… one kind of creature… all in the same boat from God’s vantage point.
• Every creature is accountable to their Maker too.
• It matters not whether you are rich or poor, one day everyone will have to answer to their Maker… whether prince or pauper.
• Rev. 20:12 – “And I saw the dead small and great stand before God…”
• One day they will all meet together to be judged by God, either at the Bema or the Great White Throne.
i. That’s the point of this proverb.
• Of course God does divide mankind up into saved and unsaved, but that is not the point of this proverb.
• Solomon is speaking about how God as MAKER views the sea of humanity.
• As Maker, He sees creatures.
• As Maker, He doesn’t acknowledge social status or other man made divisions.
• God is no respecter of persons.
• He sees what they all have in common.
j. Gal. 3:28 – Today, (not as Maker but as Redeemer) when God sees us in Christ, He does not acknowledge the various groupings. He sees us all as ONE… one Body of believers. Here God sees us not only as creatures made in His image, but as new creatures in Christ, redeemed and being conformed to the image of Christ!
2. Implied is the fact that the Lord, the Maker is concerned about all the individuals in BOTH groups: rich and poor.
a. As a Creator He is concerned for all of His creatures.
3. Also implied is the fact that God has a PURPOSE in making some rich and others poor.
a. Poverty can be a blessing.
• It can teach creatures to be dependent upon the Lord; to be content with His provisions;
• Jas. 2:5 – The poor can learn to be rich in faith in ways the wealthy are unable.
• Poverty can also teach us how to be generous—like the poor widow who gave her last mite.
• Ps. 10:14 – The poor have an easier time committing their lives into the hands of the Lord.
• God has His purposes for allowing some to be poor.
• Poverty can be a blessing for those who are spiritually minded.
b. Riches can also be a blessing.
• It can teach creatures be thankful for God’s goodness and grace. It can teach creatures to be kind and generous with what they have been blessed with.
• Thus, there is a place for both rich and poor coming together… and rubbing elbows in society.
• Deut. 15:11 – The poor will never cease out of the land; hence, the opportunity to give and be generous will never cease.
• God providentially brings a Good Samaritan across the path of a poor, beaten, man who needs help and resources.
• God providentially crosses the paths of rich and poor… that the poor might be provided for… and that the rich might have opportunity to display generosity.
• James 2:14-16 – The poor also provide an ongoing opportunity for believers to express their faith.
• I John 3:16-19 – The poor provide an ongoing opportunity to manifest the love of God.
• Prov. 14:21 – Showing mercy to the poor is one of God’s means of providing true happiness and contentment to the rich.
• God’s purpose for having both the rich and poor in the world is for GOOD.
c. However, Satan may use this situation (trial) for evil.
• Poverty can become an excuse to steal and curse and envy.
• Riches can become an excuse to hoard and be selfish and to harden one’s heart.
d. Prov. 14:31 – One’s treatment of the poor is an expression of his attitude towards their Maker: for they are made in His image.
• Oppressing the poor is reproaching the Maker
• Showing mercy to the poor is honoring their Maker