Proverbs 10:15 (NKJV)
15 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city; The destruction of the poor is their poverty.
In the text before us today, Solomon highlights the blessing of wealth and the danger of poverty. On the one hand, we have the blessing of wealth. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city… In the ancient world, a strong city was a place of refuge and protection from the ravages of war. Walled cities, or strong cities as Solomon calls them, were havens of security in an insecure world. Like the walls of these strong cities is the wealth of the rich man. His wealth enables him to hide himself, his family, and his friends in times of hardship or difficulty. His wealth is a source of security and protection. It is a blessing from God.
On the other hand, we have the danger of poverty. The destruction of the poor is their poverty. Whereas marauders, thieves, and foreign armies often left strong cities alone, they frequently laid waste small villages and unwalled cities, plundering property, slaying the populace, and devastating the surrounding countryside. These unwalled cities were constantly exposed to danger and oppression. Likewise, the poor man. When hardship arrives, the poor man has no resources to protect himself or his family. His poverty is his destruction.
Solomon’s words remind us, first, of the blessings of material wealth. Living hand to mouth is sometimes necessary but rarely wise. It is always better to save for a rainy day and to build one’s wealth so that in times of hardship you have a strong city to which you can flee. In Scripture, it is commendable to acquire wealth. While it is sinful to have a lust for wealth, or to use your wealth to promote wickedness, or to steal from others to gain wealth, it is not sinful to acquire wealth. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city… and is, therefore, a blessing from God.
Solomon’s words also remind us, second, of the blessings of spiritual wealth. It is the man or woman who knows the character and promises of God who will be able to endure times of hardship and suffering in faith. And this type of wealth, spiritual wealth, is a wealth that any child of God can acquire whether he be materially rich or poor. So Paul writes of the rich: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim 6:17-19). And James writes of the poor, “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (2:5) Spiritual wealth is a strong city which any child of God may acquire by the grace of God.
So what of you? On the one hand, are you endeavoring to store up material wealth in order that you may have a strong city in times of trouble? Are you avoiding debt and endeavoring to save or are you perpetually living hand to mouth? On the other hand, are you endeavoring to store up spiritual wealth? Are you growing in your knowledge of God’s character and promises so that you may be able to weather the tribulations that will come your way in this life? Remember the words of Solomon: “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city; The destruction of the poor is their poverty.”
Reminded of our calling to think of tomorrow and to store up wealth for times of trouble, let us acknowledge that we often fail to do so. And as we confess, let us kneel before the Lord.