Proverbs 13:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 13:8, NIV: A person's riches may ransom their life, but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.

Proverbs 13:8, ESV: The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but a poor man hears no threat.

Proverbs 13:8, KJV: The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.

Proverbs 13:8, NASB: The ransom of a person’s life is his wealth, But the poor hears no rebuke.

Proverbs 13:8, NLT: The rich can pay a ransom for their lives, but the poor won't even get threatened.

Proverbs 13:8, CSB: Riches are a ransom for a person's life, but a poor person hears no threat.

What does Proverbs 13:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This proverb uses an unexpected twist to uncover a hidden advantage of poverty. A rich person can "ransom" themselves. This might mean to buy themselves out of trouble, but in this context, it means a more literal ransom. This is the fee demanded by someone to return a captured or kidnapped person, or to free a slave. The rich person is subject to ransom demands because of their wealth. No one will make such threats against a poor person because they have no riches to give. Threats to wealth, property, or money are powerless against someone who has none of those things.

Material wealth does, in fact, come with downsides. That includes the risk of being robbed or kidnapped or murdered for one's money. Further, a rich man may wonder whether his "friends" are truly friends or simply pretending to be his friends to get something from him. Wealth at best is only temporal, whereas "godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world" (1 Timothy 6:6–7). Hebrews 13:5 provides the right perspective on what is truly important. It reads: "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"