Proverbs 22:22

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:

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What happens, if you take advantage of the poor or the afflicted? God Jehovah Himself will take up their cause and plead their case; He will spoil your soul for spoiling them.

This proverb is only half of the full warning of Solomon. The next verse reads, “For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them” (Pr 22:23).

Another proverb further warns, “For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee” (Pr 23:11). David had warned that God takes care of the poor, “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation” (Ps 68:5).

But Moses gave the warning graphically, “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless” (Ex 22:22-24). This is a very serious matter.

The poor or afflicted cannot defend themselves well. Some think this makes them an easy target, but they forget the most key fact in the universe. God will defend them. Beware! Any robbery is stealing (Ex 20:15), but God considers it a worse offence when it is against the poor. “Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause” (Ex 23:6).

Robbing the poor is taking advantage of them financially. It would be better to overpay or undersell or be defrauded in dealings with them (Pr 20:14; 11:26; I Cor 6:7-8). Afflicting them in the gate is taking advantage of them in any legal or relational way. Controversies were settled in Solomon’s day by elders of the city giving judgment in the city gates.

There are three ways you can treat the poor and afflicted, and each has its own outcome for you. First, you can take from them, mistreat them, or abuse them, as the proverbs and warnings above describe. God defends those who cannot defend themselves, and He will avenge them by destroying you or anyone else that presumes to take advantage of them.

Second, you can ignore them and their needs by being too busy and not getting involved. Solomon warned about this response, “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard” (Pr 21:13). And, “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” (Pr 28:27).

Third, you can be attentive and helpful to them and their needs, and God will bless you, because this is His pure religion (Jas 1:27; Luke 10:25-37; 14:12-14). Solomon wrote, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” (Pr 19:17). When the LORD repays, it is a payout (Luke 6:38)!

Not all who claim to be poor are poor, and not all who claim to be afflicted are afflicted. There are more beggars and those thinking they are entitled to a free lunch than ever before. You should righteously examine each case to find God’s will in the matter (Jn 7:24). The Good Samaritan did not consider long, because the desperate need was obvious, but Joshua did not consider long enough to avoid being scammed (Josh 9:3-16).

What poor or afflicted has God put in your life? Do not miss any. Do not be hasty. Start with your family, then your church, then other churches of the truth, and then those God puts in your path in your ordinary course of business. This is His order and priority. Are all in your family like parents and grandparents taken care of? Are there any widows, fatherless, or those in your church with a legitimate “act of God” in their lives?

How do you tip? Are you wise enough to know some people serve tables instead of manage banks because they are the poor this proverb describes? Are you a light, average, or heavy tipper? Tips are the larger part of their wages, assumed by employer, employee, and the government. Do you tip room service when you stay in a hotel? God sees it all.

Your future depends on it. One of the most telling observations of life is to watch those who barely tip, the frugal and miserly, struggle financially, while the generous and liberal prosper. Solomon has taught you why, but few are able to grasp the lesson and put it into practice (Pr 11:24-25). You will never lose believing someone is poor and being liberal.

The God of the Bible is incredibly just, merciful, and wise. He takes notice of the lowest of men, and He rewards your smallest care, neglect, or abuse of them. The Bible He wrote is a divine library of wisdom, including this book of Proverbs to teach you wisdom for His glory, the benefit of those around you, and your prosperity and success.

What will you do with this lesson? Every man will give an account for the things he was taught and the degree to which he put them into practice. Love this God. Love His word. Love the poor and help them when you have an opportunity according to His rules. May God bless you, if you take your religion and life seriously to obey the wisdom here.