7 One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. 8 A person’s riches may ransom their life, but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes. 9 The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out. 10 Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. 11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. 12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Prov 13 7-12 NIV)
7 One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
Deception is a falsehood. Someone pretends to be rich because they are trying to impress others. They might do this because they are looking for some social advantage. Equally false is the person who pretends to be poor when they are in fact rich. Perhaps they do this to gain an economic advantage.
8 A person’s riches may ransom their life,
but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.
A person with wealth can use their wealth to buy themselves out of trouble. The second part of the Proverb is very difficult to translate and the NIV has not worded this very helpfully. The meaning is that the poor person cannot respond to any threat on his life because he has no money to offer. Another translation suggests that the poor person doesn’t hear any threats because none are made, as those issuing the threats have nothing to gain from the poor man.
9 The light of the righteous shines brightly,
but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.
The metaphor of light normally represents pictures of life, vitality and joy. Those who pursue the path of righteousness are living the wise way and this is the way of life. It is a similar idea to that found in Psalm 1:
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither– whatever they do prospers. (Ps. 1:3 NIV)
In contrast the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out. It is a bad way to live, it has no vitality and it will end in death.
10 Where there is strife, there is pride,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
Once strife arises between two people, pride on both sides of the dispute means no one is prepared to give in. Usually there are faults on both sides of any dispute. The original offence gets compounded by things that are said. Rather than solve the problem people walk away from the relationship, and this can last for decades depriving both sides of the benefits they could have had through their friendship. Pride keeps this kind of resentment alive for a lifetime. Pride will prevent a person from listening to a third-party peacemaker who wants to help the parties resolve their issue. In contrast the wise person will take advice. The wise person is prepared to listen and respond to try and resolve any difference that may have arisen.
11 Dishonest money dwindles away,
but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
Dishonest money usually comes quickly. The person who acquires sudden wealth has not been used to handling wealth and so the money dwindles away. (The Prodigal son’s newfound wealth did not last very long). In contrast the person who works hard and saves a little over time is able to appreciate the wise use of money.
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
When a longing is deferred and time drags on, it can have a psychological impact on us making our heart sick. Waiting and waiting can be debilitating. On the other hand, when a longing is fulfilled, it is like a tree of life. We are invigorated by the hope being realised.
Lord forgive us for harbouring pride in our hearts. Forgive us for thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. If our pride is preventing us from resolving a dispute, help us to humble ourselves and seek peace, because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.