As a collection of wisdom sayings, the book of Proverbs touches on a diverse range of topics and life experiences. Among these are reflections on poverty, riches, contentment, justice, and injustice—and sometimes from differing angles. Life is not always simple and straightforward, and Proverbs alerts us to the different circumstances and choices that influence how life is lived, even among those who are faithful to God.
Read and compare Proverbs 10:4; Prov. 13:23, Prv. 13:25; Prov. 14:31; Prov. 15:15-16; Prov. 19:15, Prov. 19:17; and Prov. 30:7-9. What are these texts saying that is relevant to wealth, poverty, and helping those in need?
Proverbs emphasizes the concern and attention God has for the poor and vulnerable. Sometimes people are poor because of circumstances, poor choices, or exploitation, but whatever the causes of their situation, the Lord is still described as their Creator (see Prov. 22:2) and Defender (see Prov. 22:22-23). These people are not to be oppressed or taken advantage of, whatever their mistakes.
While Proverbs does offer a better life through choosing wisdom and obeying God, riches are not always the result of God’s blessing. Faithfulness to God is always seen as more important and ultimately more rewarding than material gain: “Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice” (Prov. 16:8, NIV).
Another concern in Proverbs is honesty and fair dealing in business, government, and in administering justice (see Prov. 14:5, Prov. 14:25; Prov. 16:11-13; Prov. 17:15; Prov. 20:23; Prov. 21:28; Prov. 28:14-16). Proverbs is not only concerned with the lives of individuals but also offers insight as to how society as a whole should function for the benefit of all, particularly for those who need protection. We are reminded again that at their best, those who govern and lead do so with the help of God (see Prov. 8:15-16), and should be acting as agents of His grace and compassion toward those in need.
|It’s easy for anyone to feel sorry for those in bad situations. How, though, can we take that feeling of sorrow and turn it into action?|