Proverbs 22:23

For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.

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The poor and weak have a powerful Friend. If you mess with them, He will mess with you. It is a rule of godliness and wisdom to treat the oppressed and vulnerable with great care. The Bible often mentions orphans and widows as those deserving special treatment, but the rule applies to any afflicted, helpless, poor, or needy person (Pr 23:10-11; 31:8-9).

With pronouns in this proverb, you must find the antecedents in the context. Solomon had just written, “Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate” (Pr 22:22). The Lord will plead “their” cause, meaning the cause of the poor and afflicted. The Lord will spoil those that spoiled “them,” meaning the poor and afflicted. If you bother or harm a poor or afflicted person, the Lord will defend them by hurting you.

The rule is simple – do not take financial advantage of a poor person, since his poverty makes him more vulnerable; do not press claims or rights against afflicted or troubled persons. Using the example of orphans and widows, consider God’s repeated warnings (Ex 22:22-24; Deut 24:17; 27:19; Mal 3:5; Jas 1:27). Using the example of the poor, consider His repeated warnings (Pr 14:31; 17:5; Ex 22:25; 23:6; Deut 15:7-11; 24:12-15).

How severe is God’s revenge against those harming the weak and needy? “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 serious business! Helping the helpless is wise! Hurting the helpless is suicide! Do not worry about oppression you cannot stop, for their Friend is watching (Eccl 5:8).

Reader, are you tempted to think, But I have never robbed the poor, and I have never oppressed the afflicted. Really? Let’s see. If you are a husband, have you ever hurt your wife, the weaker vessel, out of bitterness (Col 3:19; I Pet 3:7)? If you are a parent, have you ever hurt a child by a critical, harsh, or overbearing approach (Eph 6:4; Col 3:21)? If you are an employer, have you ever failed to follow through on a commitment (Jas 5:1-5)? Have you ever presumed on the services of other church members (Jer 22:13-14)?

Rachel oppressed Leah, so God gave Leah three times more children, and Rachel died in childbirth (Gen 29:31; 30:14-16; 35:16-20). Peninah oppressed Hannah, Elkanah’s other wife, so God gave her Samuel, five other children, and her husband’s heart (I Sam 1:1-6; 2:21). Judas Iscariot oppressed the Lord Jesus Christ, so God dashed his bowels across a field and cut him and his family out of any mercy in this world or the next (Ps 109:1-20).

Rather than have the LORD God of heaven planning against your life and spoiling your soul, get Him on your side by being a benefactor to the poor and needy (Pr 19:17; 28:27; 31:8-9). This is a simple rule of wisdom for your prosperity and success. Think how wonderful the world could be if God’s wisdom were practiced by more than just a few.