15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.
Popular opinion suggests that people are basically good, which proves the point of this verse. Folly comes naturally to us, and the more we ignore it the more it grows. We may try to correct it by teaching manners, or by incentivizing good behavior, (both of which prove that neither comes naturally), but without discipline folly will prevail. We have been told that “whoever hates correction is stupid,” and this is true for both parent and child. Discipline may hurt, but it is freedom from folly, which is harmful if left unopposed.
“One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.” Here the tragic irony of sin is revealed. The ruthless pursuit of wealth leads to poverty, as does the shameless pursuit of influence. Though financial poverty may be somewhat delayed, the relational consequences are immediate. Indeed the tax collectors of the Roman age were despised far more than the poor, as are the sycophants of our day. Seek wisdom first, and wealth and influence will come, pursue them directly and you will get neither.