We have heard of the old adage—“You cannot bring your wealth with you when you die.” Let me suggest a new one—“You may lose your wealth while you live.” That’s what we learn from Prov. 13:7-11.
One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth (v. 7).
The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but a poor man hears no threat (v. 8).
In v. 7, the word, “pretends,” is not exactly in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word is ashar, “to become rich.” (BDB) It is a hithpael participle, translated, “becoming rich.” Thus, one, becoming rich, has nothing. The other, becoming poor, has everything.
It does not say that it is better to be rich or poor. It merely says that you may be rich, but have nothing. You may be poor, but have everything.
The writer illustrates this point in v. 8. When the rich is kidnapped, his wealth will pay for their ransom. His wealth gives him some protection. But when he is taken hostage, and a ransom is demanded, his protection—his money—is taken away.
The poor has no money, and thus, no protection. But nobody will threaten him, because he has nothing to pay ransom.
So then, the rich have riches, but have nothing to protect themselves from the threat of kidnapping and ransom. The poor have nothing, but everything to protect themselves from the threat of ransom payment—their poverty. Thus, the rich have really nothing. But the poor, everything.
Yes, you cannot bring your wealth with you when you die. But you may also lose your wealth while you live. You may lose it as payment for ransom. You may lose it through bad business decisions. You may lose it through other people.