The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
The rich and poor have many similarities. God Jehovah made them both. Learn their similarities, and do not despise or envy either one. A godly worldview is great wisdom.
When the rich and poor meet together, the rich despise the poor for their poverty and stupidity, and the poor envy the rich for their prosperity and arrogance. But the LORD made them both, and they have no reason to resent each other. For if the truth be told, they both arrived naked and destitute, and they shall both leave this world the same way.
The rich and poor meet together at birth and death, and you should observe they are very equal in many important matters. They are born the same way, arrive naked, are unconscious and ignorant, are sinners before God, are vulnerable to the same diseases, are tempted with the same sins, and meet God after death with the same amount of assets.
The financial difference between the rich and poor was not their decision. The sovereign, creator God of heaven determined the economic factors in each life before the foundation of the world (Acts 15:18; I Cor 4:7; Dan 4:35). If you do not like this fact, it is too bad. You cannot change it, and His choices have already, and always will, affect your life.
Solomon did not write in this proverb about poverty from foolish actions. When a man is lazy, wasteful, and/or foolish, his poverty is his own fault. God judges such men. But that is not the object of this proverb. There are plenty of other proverbs condemning such conduct. Here the lesson is about the real and significant differences that God makes.
Consider a key economic factor. Who chose your parents? Successful parents provide children an inheritance, employment contacts, a superior education, great credit, ambition and confidence, and many other advantages. But the child did not make or approve the choice! Neither did the child born to mentally challenged parents scraping out a living!
Who chose the citizenship you received at birth? One child is born in poverty-stricken Ethiopia with little to no opportunity for anything. Another child is born in middle-class America with every opportunity and then some. But the infant citizen in either country did not make or approve the choice of his nation. God made the choice for each of them.
Who chose your intelligence and abilities? One child is born with an IQ in the top 10% of the population, verbally and mathematically skilled, with personal charisma and leadership abilities. Another child is born in the lower 25% of the population, cannot read, speak, or do math well, and has a weak and timid personality. God made these choices, and to miss His great sovereignty over men is to be ignorant of life’s realities.
Who chose your profession or business? One man gets an early job with a great company in a booming industry; it promotes from within, rewards good performance, and gives stock options to employees. He is rich in twenty years. Another man works for twenty years at low wages in a dying industry and is laid off, without warning or benefits. He is destitute at forty with nowhere to go. God chose, and the rich and poor must recognize it.
These examples could be multiplied many times for other factors. God determined the important factors that lead to financial success before you were born. He has made both the rich and poor, and they should tremble before Him and love and respect each other. No man knows the future, but the God of heaven does, and He blesses or deprives men accordingly. He knows all the factors and distributes them according to His own will.
You must settle any question you have about God’s sovereignty in these factors. Solomon stated this axiom: “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all” (Eccl 9:11). Who is responsible for this time and chance? Solomon gave you a proverb, “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD” (Pr 16:33).
The rich and poor also meet together in another circumstance. They come together necessarily in economic pursuits, for the one cannot exist without the other. The poor provide the labor, service, and trades to supply the rich with food, service, and luxuries; and the rich provide the poor with employment, wages, and purchases of their products.
If all men were either rich or poor, the advanced economies the world has would come to a grinding and screeching halt. If all were poor, who would provide capital? If all were rich, who would provide labor? The rich and poor meet together, because they need each other. And this mutually pleasing relationship extends to the church as well, where those rich in spiritual gifts should not despise those less gifted (I Cor 12:21).
When the rich and poor meet together, the rich should care for the poor and be willing to distribute of their abundance to the needs of the poor, and the poor should be willing to honor and rejoice with the rich for God’s good favor upon them (I Tim 6:17-19; Acts 4:34-37; 2:44-45; Rom 12:15; I Cor 12:26). There should be no respect of persons at all for economic advantage in the house of God (James 2:1-10). All are exalted (Jas 1:9-11).
To make fun of the poor is very wrong, for it reproaches your Creator (Pr 14:31; 17:5). It is the LORD Jehovah that makes both rich and poor, as Hannah prayed (I Sam 2:7). Job knew that both rich and poor were made alike in the womb by the hand of God (Job 31:14; 34:19). The rich should tremble, knowing that God can reduce them to poverty in a minute; and the poor should not despair, knowing that God can enrich them easily.
Why does God make one poor and another rich? He is the LORD; He is greater than man, and He does according to His own will with men (Job 33:12). But He can teach the poor humility, contentment, patience, and faith through their poverty. And He can as well teach the rich the necessity of humility, kindness, generosity, love, and thankfulness.
The proverb should cause you to tremble before the great and dreadful God, Who does all these things for His own glory. He is Lord of all! You should be thankful for every blessing He chose in His eternal counsel to send your way. You could go on and on. Count your many blessings! You will be surprised to see what the Lord hath done!
If you are poor, it is helpful to remember that there are many poorer than you can even imagine. Thank the Lord for His bounty toward you. Your situation is not as bad as others or as bad as it could be. If you are rich in this world, it is helpful to remember that there are many much richer than you. Thank the Lord for His reminder to be humble.
The prophet Agur who wrote the proverbs in chapter 30 prayed very wisely that God would give him convenient supplies to avoid both riches and poverty (Pr 30:7-9). When was the last time you saw a television commercial that suggested this approach to life? When did Joel Osteen last preach a sermon that success and wealth should be avoided?
When it comes to salvation, there is no rich or poor, for all men are equally naked and condemned before the holy Creator and Judge of all men (Rom 3:23; Gal 3:28). There is no respect of persons with Him whatsoever (Acts 10:34; Job 34:19). He is not impressed at all by the wealth of the rich. They cannot buy themselves out of even one sin.
The rich cannot redeem even a brother by his wealth (Ps 49:6-9). The poor will get no allowance for sin due to their poverty. Both rich and poor, small and great, shall stand before His horrible bar of judgment to receive Jehovah’s final verdict (Ps 49:1-2; Rev 20:12). The rich man went to hell, and the poor beggar Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-23). Riches mean nothing to this Judge. Salvation is of the Lord.
In fact, God has chosen a much greater number of the poor for His children than of the rich (I Cor 1:26-29; James 2:5). Therefore, in the church of Jesus Christ, there should be no class distinctions whatsoever by economics, employment, color, sex, or age (Gal 3:28; I Cor 12:13; Col 3:11). Both rich and poor have been made equal (Jas 1:9-10).
Though in Jesus Christ rich and poor are equal (Gal 3:28), they have different roles and stations in life, which are still to be honored. The Christian employee is still under his Christian employer (I Tim 6:1-5). And these God-ordained differences should never be despised or overthrown. Each man is to abide in his natural calling with a diligent use of the rank, talents, opportunities, and duties God gave him (I Cor 7:24).
As the church of Jesus Christ, God has created and redeemed all its members. There are no differences in Christ Jesus. All have the same salvation, the same hope, the same trials, and the same future expectation. There should be mutual love, respect, and joy in and with each other. Any other attitude, such as envy, strife, or resentment, is from hell. God’s churches should prosper through mutual love without respect of persons.
Christian reader, no matter how poor you are in the things of this world, the Lord has chosen you in His blessed Son unto eternal life and riches. He has written your name in the Book of Life, and He has predestinated you to everlasting glory and wealth. You are a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. You should be able to sing His praises forever, for your heaven in the future far outweighs the empty riches of the wicked in this world.