We see the typical scene in movie after movie. The wealthy man has someone in his family - even himself - taken captive. The FBI is in the home awaiting the fateful phone call. When it comes there comes with it the call for ransom. They knew he was wealthy - and therefore he was their perfect target. Now that they have his life in their hands - he must pay and pay handsomely if he wants to preserve his life or the life of a loved one. Who would have thought that thousands of years ago God gave this wisdom to Solomon to warn the rich that due to the sinful, selfish tendencies of fallen man, they would at times have to realize that their riches would be the ransom for their life?
Here we have a proverb that simply states human nature. Very seldom do we read of a poor man who is held ransom for his good name and his hard work ethic. We don't see him held ransom for the simple way that he works and lives and loves his family. There is no demand for the happiness of a poor family who is content with the little they have - because they have each other. Men may covet such things when they realize that money really doesn't make a person happy, but seldom do they think that such basic joys can serve as a ransom for another's life.
This is a problem for the rich and not the poor. They have spent a great deal to get what they have. But there are those who would take them captive, even threatening their lives, for the purpose of extracting as much money from them as they can. Sin and rebellion to God make evil men think that they will be happy if they get enough money. They think no matter how they get it - they will have it made once they escape. Fascinating that the movies don't really follow these crooks to their fateful end. They show us the really cool ways they do their crimes - and how clever they are as they get away. They have the closing scene where they toast one another with champagne and talk of what they'll do with their loot. They don't show us men and women who are hunted for life - and who are looking over the shoulder at every turn. But then again, that wouldn't sell in a movie would it?
The rich have much - but they also have the struggle to keep what they have. Since their lives are bound up in their bottom line, they spend much of their lives protecting it any way they can. They do all they can do to protect their money - and they also have to spend a pretty penney on security to protect their lives and their families. When you look at all they do - and how they have to deal with fear of losing it all - you have to wonder, is it worthy it?
The poor man hears no such rebuke. He does not live in fear of having his family, friends, or himself taken captive for ransom. Now I am not against wealth or riches - because there are many who are very godly to whom God has given riches. There are those who use their riches wisely - and to the glory of God. But then again, we see them making wise choices and seeing wealth through the eyes of God. They may have the money of the rich man - but they most likely have the values of the poor content man at their core. They live for simple things even though they are wealthy. In fact some of the most precious people I've ever known were wealthy - but did not come close to living like it. Just about everyone they knew had no idea how wealthy they were - because they chose a very modest lifestyle. Interestingly, they probably heard no rebuke either - since they did not flaunt their wealth. Makes you think about how you are living. It also makes you think in one more way as well. Even though the rich may have their wealth to pay their ransom here on earth - it will do them no good at the end of the age. Just a closing passage of Scripture that rings in my ears as I think about this proverb. It is from the Psalms . . .
Why should I fear in days of adversity, When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me, even those who trust in their wealth and boast in the abundance of their riches? No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him—for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever—that he should live on eternally, That he should not undergo decay. Psalm 49:5-9
There is NO ransom for a man's soul. There is only ONE acceptable price paid for sin. That price is what Jesus Christ paid with His blood at the cross. The redemption of a man's soul is indeed infinitely costly. Maybe money can buy "everything" here on earth according to sinful men - but the second a man passes from this life, he better not be deceived into thinking that his wealth can be the ransom for his eternal life. Thinking like that can cost you . . . literally everything!