A kindhearted woman gains honor,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.
What a fascinating thing to say!
When this was first written down, and for many centuries after, women were second class citizens, not taken very seriously in society in many ways; they were considered inferior to men. Solomon gives us a dual contrast: First between woman and man, and second between honor and wealth. It would have been considered better to be a man than a woman, and whether honor or wealth were to be most prized was, and still is debatable. Certainly, those who would prostitute themselves in whatever fashion to pursue wealth would put wealth ahead of honor, as would the ruthless.
The great irony in this proverb is found in the word “only”. So, you have gone after wealth with ruthlessness and have succeeded; good for you.
A kindhearted second class citizen is better off than you, for you have no honor.