Poor and Humble is Better than Rich and Proud
→ In this verse and the last, Solomon speaks of pride.
→ In vs.18 he indicates that pride leads to a fall and destruction.
→ In vs. 19 he states that pride is so bad, it is better to be poor to avoid pride.
→ Being poor and humble is better than being rich and proud.
Dividing the Spoil With the Proud
1. Spoil =
a. Strong’s: Prey; booty; plunder (of war). gain—usually associated with dubious means.
b. Used in Prov. 31:11 – The hard work of the virtuous woman results in her husband having no need of “spoil” – Here it seems to be used as a synonym for material goods.
c. Used in Prov. 1:13 of goods obtained through robbery.
d. Used in Gen. 49:27 – Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
e. Spoil is usually associated with obtaining goods in a less than honorable way… dishonest gain… through robbery OR violence… often used of the goods obtained through war.
2. Dividing the spoil – speaks of each of the crooks getting their fair share of the stolen goods. (Prov. 29:24 – translated “partner.” – partners in crime!)
3. Implicit in this statement is the fact that powerful, wealthy, proud, arrogant men OFTEN make lots of money through less than honorable means.
a. Money is power. And the wealthy use their position of power to oppress the poor and squeeze as much out of the little guy as he can.
b. Also implicit in this proverb is the fact that PRIDE is behind much of this wheeling and dealing.
c. Those in positions of wealth and power think of themselves as being bigger and better than the little guy… the Lilliputians.
d. In pride they reason that they deserve all the wealth… and the peasants, well, they’re just peasants. They wouldn’t know how to use money if they had it.
e. Jas. 2:6 – James notes that wealthy men have often oppressed the poor… with complete disregard for God.
f. Jas. 5:4 – James also notes that these wealthy and powerful land owners oppress the poor through FRAUD… dishonest gain… at the expense of the poor… making spoil of them… exploiting them…
g. Solomon tells us that pride is at the root of much of this kind of oppression.
h. Class warfare: we’re better than those uneducated, uncivilized peasants who live like animals! We deserve the wealth, the land, the power, and all the privileges.
4. Solomon pictures in all of this the proud, wealthy, upper crust (the big money people) gathering together to divide all the spoil they have gained through oppression, fraud, and by trampling over the poor.
a. He uses the very same language of these wealthy businessmen, nobles, and land owners that he previously used of street thugs.
b. Prov. 1:10-14 – here the thugs and robbers lure young men into their gang… to gather spoil through dishonesty… and they will all have ONE purse. (They will share it equally—divide the spoil.)
c. Solomon sees a connection between the two groups. They are doing the same sort of work… (oppression; dishonest gain; taking advantage of others; fraud; robbery)…
d. They have the same proud heart… The street thugs think they are smarter than the police (pride). The upper crust thinks they are better than the peons (pride).
e. They both think that they can get away with their actions—and often do… in this life.
f. There really isn’t much difference between them except in the size or value of the spoil.
g. They may differ in degree, but not in kind.
h. Solomon links it all to PRIDE. (We deserve this!)
5. Of course, this is NOT to say that all wealthy people are proud and dishonest.
a. It is possible to be wealthy and humble… and poor and proud.
b. But, Solomon did observe that the two traits of wealth and pride OFTEN went together.
c. I Tim. 6:17 – Paul warns those who are rich about an ever present danger among the wealthy: becoming high minded! (high minded = think highly of self)
d. Wealth and pride DO often go together. They feed off each other.
e. Being wealthy can MAKE you proud. (Ezek. 28:5 – the king of Tyre)
f. Or, being proud can sometimes MAKE you wealthy—
• IF you are willing to trample over others, use fraud, and dishonest gain to get to where you want to be.
• The love of money leads men to all kids of evil!
• Some proud men aim at being rich… and let nothing get in their way… their family, their friends—they will trample over anyone and anything to obtain their dream of wealth…
• If all you care about is yourself, and you are willing to walk all over others… lie, steal, cheat, etc… you CAN become wealthy.
• I Tim. 6:9-10 – but at a great price!
• Proud, wealthy men are not always happy.
• Too often they have made a lot of enemies along the way… and have missed out on the best things in life.
g. Pride is often at the root of it all—the lust of the eyes (things!) and the pride of life!
Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly
1. The humble spirit with the lowly stands in contrast to the proud, wealthy men.
a. Humble is the opposite of proud.
b. Lowly is the opposite of the rich who divide the spoil.
c. Lowly is used of one who is lowly financially: poor!
d. Poverty and humility are often associated…
• But remember, this is a proverb… a generalization.
• Not all poor men are humble.
2. Divine wisdom states that it is better to be one of the little people being plundered, than to be part of the proud, wealthy, dishonest, oppressors.
3. Poor and humble is better than rich and proud.
a. If you are ever put in a position where you have to choose, choose poor and humble!
b. Solomon says that it is better. It is the wise choice.
4. It is better because the Lord will destroy the house of the proud eventually. (Prov. 15:25)
5. It is better because it can affect your behavior and the way you treat people. (Prov. 18:23)
6. We are far better off being among the oppressed rather than the oppressors… especially in the Day of Judgment.
a. The proud, wealthy, and powerful might seem to do well in this life.
b. Ps. 73:12 – Asaph lamented over the wicked who seem to prosper in the world… but their day is coming.
• Asaph linked this to pride too… (vs. 6, 8c)
• Asaph saw a difference between the wealthy and the poor… and the wealthy seemed to be wicked and ungodly!
• It didn’t seem fair to him… and it isn’t fair!
• Injustice has been prevalent in the world since Eden. It’s nothing new.
• But their day is coming! Asaph learned that… it is better to be with the poor and humble than with them! (vs.17-18)
c. All throughout history there has been a great DIVIDE between the haves and the have nots.
d. Medieval times – the wealthy land owners and the serfs.
e. Colonial times – the slave owners and the slaves.
f. Today there are many poor countries that are actually RICH in natural resources, but they remain poor because the arrogant, wealthy class has all the power and they live like royalty as the people suffer and starve.
g. One day all men will stand before God and will have to give an account of their actions.
h. In that day, (if not before) it will be manifest that it is better to have been of a humble spirit with the lowly… than to have been dividing the spoil with the proud.
i. A day of truth and reckoning WILL come. All the crooked things will be made straight in that day.
j. This is a word of encouragement to be PATIENT… for the Lord is coming! (Jas. 5:7-8)
• Hang in there with the oppressed!
• Don’t wish for a second to be part of the wealthy oppressors!
• It’s better to be poor and humble than to be rich and proud.