1 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse. 2 Desire without knowledge is not good– how much more will hasty feet miss the way! 3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD. 4 Wealth attracts many friends, but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them. 5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free. 6 Many curry favour with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts. 7 The poor are shunned by all their relatives– how much more do their friends avoid them! Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found. (Prov. 19:1-7 NIV)
1 Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse.
The implication of the first line is that the poor man had an opportunity to improve his lot in life but because of his integrity he chose not to pursue the opportunity. The poor man remains blameless and true to his integrity. This is not a state of moral perfection but describes a person who is fully committed to God. It is better to be poor and remain blameless than to acquire wealth in a dishonest way. The blameless poor person is also better than the fool who tells lies. The fool is prepared to tell lies to attempt to improve his lot in life.
2 Desire without knowledge is not good—
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!
Zeal and enthusiasm are not enough. Knowledge is required. This knowledge refers to the wisdom of God found in the Scriptures. Paul makes the same point in Romans:
For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. (Rom. 10:2 NIV)
Uninformed zeal and enthusiasm can cause a person to rush into action and unwittingly sin.
3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
yet their heart rages against the LORD.
A fool is responsible for his own folly and for the ruin to which it inevitably leads, yet he blames the Lord for the ruin that has come upon him. This is often heard in our world today where people will blame God for all the ills in the world. Humanity brings evil upon their own heads and in one moment they deny the existence of God while in the next blame God for everything that has gone wrong.
4 Wealth attracts many friends,
but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.
This proverb is a sad observation on human society. A person with wealth can attract what seems to be a lot of friends. If this kind of friendship is based on what one might gain from it, it is not surprising that a poor person has little or no wealth to offer. This should come as a challenge to every Christian as we should make sure that that type of relationship plays no part of the contact that we have with others.
5 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will not go free.
Lying and giving false testimony is often spoken against in the Proverbs. Those who give false testimony will not get away with this. God will hold them accountable. The message of the first line is reinforced by the second line. The lies that come from a false witness just pour out. Lying can quickly become a habit.
6 Many curry favour with a ruler,
and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.
Many will demean themselves to win the favour of a ruler. A ruler is worthy of our respect but not our fawning adoration. This type of relationship is insincere as it is bought with gifts and handouts.
7 The poor are shunned by all their relatives—
how much more do their friends avoid them!
Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.
This is a three-line proverb and quite unusual. It is sad when a poor person is abandoned by relatives and friends. When the poor plead for help and the relatives the friends are nowhere to be found.
Lord help us to be genuine in our friendships and not just pursue a friendship for personal gain. We thank You that the ultimate sacrifice for His friends was the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. Help us to be self-sacrificial in our friendships, because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.