The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.
Here he is describing what is, rather than prescribing what ought to be. In all ages and in all lands money has been a mighty power, and its relative importance increases with the advance of civilisation. It does not reach the Divine purpose; but it controls human action. The Jews wield this money power in a greater degree than any other people. Over against this formidable power stands the counterpart weakness — "the destruction of the poor is their poverty." This feebleness of the body politic is as difficult to deal with as its active diseases. If pauperism be not so acute an affection as crime it is more widely spread, and requires as much of the doctor's care. Besides being an ailment itself, it is a predisposition to other and more dangerous evils. We are under law to God. The wheels of His providence are high and dreadful. If we presumptuously or ignorantly stand in their way, they will crush us by their mighty movements. We must set ourselves, by social arrangements, to diminish temptations, and by moral appliances to reclaim the vicious, if we expect to thrive or even to exist as a community. Money answereth all things in its own legitimate province of material supply, but when beyond its province you ask it to stop the gaps which vice is making, it is a dumb idol — it has no answer to give at all. A large proportion of the penniless are in a greater or less degree reckless. Partly their recklessness has made them poor, and partly their poverty has made them reckless. When a multitude who are all poor combine for united action, rash and regardless spirits gain influence and direct their course. Money, though a bad master, is a good servant. Money to the working man would answer all the ends which a strike contemplates, if each, by patient industry and temperance, would save a portion for himself. The whole community of rich and poor, linked together in their various relations, may be likened to a living body. The promiscuous mass of human beings that are welded together by their necessities and interests in this island is like a strong swimmer in the sea, and alas! it is too often like "a strong swimmer in his agony." Two truths stand out conspicuously from all the confusion. The world has a righteous Ruler, and the Ruler has a dislocated world to deal with.
(W. Arnot, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.