“A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.”
Growing up Poor:
Because my parents were divorced before I was five years old, my mom raised my two younger sisters and me by herself. She did an amazing job of taking care of us, and we always knew we were loved, even though we never had a lot of stuff. We were on social assistance and my mom applied to get into low-income housing. After they came out to see our house to do an inspection, and saw the rundown shack we were living in, we were quickly moved into a subsidized income housing complex. My mom had to work three jobs to support us including being a hairdresser and a waitress at a lounge.
So I know what it’s like to be poor. And because I’ve been there, I have a great compassion for others who don’t have a lot of stuff. My family and I sponsor a child in Costa Rica through World Vision Canada, and we often bring people in our home who need a place to stay. Right now, we have a single mom and her two week old baby staying with our family. The idea of oppressing a poor person is completely foreign to me – I can’t believe that people would do that! Although I’m sure it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, some people enjoy oppressing other people.
Proverbs and the Poor:
The Bible has a lot to say about how we are to treat the poor:
- “He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.” (14:21).
- “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.” (14:31).
- “He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” (17:5).
In today’s Proverb, Solomon tells us that when a poor person oppresses another poor person, it is like a sweeping rain that leaves no food. Imagine a pounding rain that swept through your garden and destroyed all of the vegetable crops there. That’s what it’s like when a poor person oppresses a weak or needy person. It’s a terrible thing to do! Not only is the poor person physically in want of food or life’s necessities, but now he has been hurt emotionally as well.
The unspoken challenge in today’s Proverb is this: Don’t oppress the poor! Instead, do whatever you can to help them, to bless them, to pray for them and care for them. When we do this, God will bless us for our generosity.
Lord, give us your heart of compassion for the poor and needy that are all around us every day. Help us to never oppress them, either by our words or actions, but instead to do whatever we can to help them. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.