What does Proverbs 13:7 mean?
ESV: One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
NIV: One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
NASB: There is one who pretends to be rich but has nothing; Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.
CSB: One person pretends to be rich but has nothing; another pretends to be poor but has abundant wealth.
NLT: Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor.
KJV: There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.
Verse Commentary:
The original language of this verse leads to subtle differences in how it can be interpreted. An extremely literal presentation of the Hebrew would read something like, "One enriching has nothing at all, impoverishing great wealth." This seems to play on the idea of those who put on an appearance of being wealthy when they have nothing, while others make themselves out to be poor when they have plenty (Proverbs 11:26; 16:19; 22:9). Another possible meaning is that those who focus on material wealth are spiritually poor, while those less concerned with worldly wealth are spiritually rich (Proverbs 11:24, 28; 22:1). Either view has support from Scripture; both lessons are supported elsewhere in the book of Proverbs.

The hypocritical boaster who has no wealth is insecure; to boost his self-esteem he pretends to be wealthy. The rich farmer in Jesus' parable boasted about his bumper crops, but he was spiritually bankrupt. When demanding his soul, God called such a person a fool and reminded him that material goods would not accompany him beyond the grave (Luke 12:20). The church at Laodicea boasted about its affluence, but it lacked true wealth. Jesus told the church: "You say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17). The apostle Paul assumed a sincerely humble posture. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:10 that he was poor yet made many rich and had nothing but possessed everything. It is better to be spiritually rich than to feign material wealth.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 13:4–11 observes key differences between the rich and poor, the testimony of the righteous and the dismal end of the wicked, the insolence of the wicked and the willingness of the wise to accept advice. This continues the pattern of contrast and comparison used in this section of the book.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter of Proverbs continues Solomon's wise sayings. He counsels his readers to be sensible and hardworking, as well as honest. This allows a person to be content with what they have, to enjoy life, and to bless their descendants. Laziness leads to trouble and ruin, as does a lack of discipline.
Chapter Context:
Starting in chapter 10, the book of Proverbs records a long series of wise sayings from Solomon. These continue for several chapters. Through chapter 15, a major focus is on issues such as godly living, mostly given in contrast with examples of ungodliness. This chapter emphasizes themes such as work ethic, honesty, and discipline.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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