Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 28:11
"The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding sees through him"
This proverb adds to the consistent testimony that riches and wealth add a level of pride and power that must be fought against but not by getting rid of the wealth but by making sure that one understands that this layer of superiority comes with the riches and must be regularly peeled off.
One of the worst things in the Scriptures is to be wise in your own eyes, and this is what riches add. Wealth is like a new set of glasses that causes everyone to seem smaller to you. Everyone else is not as wise as you because you have this wealth.
Because wealth has the ability to move people and things, it can also change perspective in the beholder. One of the consistent warnings of the New Testament is that one must not let money own you. Store up treasures in heaven with your funds; do not be proud and conceited. Be generous.
Wealth has a seductive quality to whisper into your ear that you are better than you really are because you have been able to amass this wealth.
Note that this proverb says that the poor person who does not have the lenses of wealth distorting their vision can accurately examine the wealthy person if they have understanding.
The words sees through is the Hebrew word haqar which is search, inquiry, and examine. The idea is that the person who is poor is not under the spell of the wealth and is able to really make the accurate connections regarding why a person does what they do and potentially what the person should do.
A key idea here is that wealth is such a distorting thing that it causes the person who has it to automatically believe what they think is a great solution or idea. While it may be, it also may not be.
Another key idea is that wisdom does connect with earthly possessions as a prerequisite. This is the flaw in many of the Jewish thinkers in the time of Jesus: If I can get rich then I must be wise. No, in fact your riches will be a distortion to your wisdom.
The proverbs do say that riches, honor, and life are by-products of wisdom; but riches do not give wisdom. In fact, it is possible to be very wealthy and not have wisdom.
In this proverb there is an explicit warning to not be self-deceived by any wealth that one gains. Do not allow yourself to believe that you are somehow superior to others because you are wealthy.