He-Who-Dies-With-the-Most-ToysToday’s proverbs (Proverbs 13:7-8) read like a pair of paradoxes—absurdities, until you take time to ponder what a wealthy king is teaching his son concerning wealth and possessions.

Consider the first paradox: There are some who appear to have everything, but have nothing.

Proverbs 13:7There is [There exists] that maketh [feigns; considers] himself rich, yet hath nothing [nothing permanent or lasting in his life]: there is that maketh [considers] himself poor, yet hath great riches [lasting, enduring, indestructible riches].”

“He who dies with the most toys wins!” was a popular line that went around several years ago. Can you think of anything more ridiculous? What value do toys hold for a dead man? Such is the absurdity of human reasoning and bankrupt values!

rich farmersThere are some who believe themselves to be rich, but in reality their life is empty and their soul bankrupt. Like the parable of the rich fool whose barns were full, but it was never enough (Luke 12:16-21); the happiness of some men is  in having one dollar more!  He is rich, but has nothing!

By contrast, there are some who are poor in earthly possessions, but whose lives are rich, blessed and enduring. Their wealth is in riches apart from the balance of their portfolio.

In Proverbs 13:8, Solomon offers a second parable paradox contrasting the rich and the poor.

Proverbs 13:8“The ransom of a man’s life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke [the poor are not tempted by threats of loss; they have nothing to be envied for a ransom].”

Only the rich need worry about their life or the lives of loved ones falling victim to a ransom demand. The poor, having little, are not tempted by the threat of losses. Unlike the rich who might buy their way out of trouble, the value of a poor man’s life is not in what he possesses, but in what possesses him—his love for God, family and friends.

Tree by waterI close with King David’s assessment of a rich man’s life:

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Copyright 2014 – Travis D. Smith