The 365 Day Devotional Commentary



This book reports the efforts of “the Teacher,” long believed to be Solomon, to find meaning in life apart from a personal relationship with God. His pessimistic conclusion: such a life is “meaningless,” and will lead to despair. Only those who “fear God and keep His commandments” can live in hope.


I.Prologue: Life Is MeaninglessEcc. 1:1–11
II.Proof: Meaninglessness DemonstratedEcc. 1:12–6:12
III.Preferences: Making the Best of a Meaningless LifeEcc. 7:1–12:8
IV.Epilogue: Call to Fear GodEcc. 12:9–14

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary

MAY 11

Reading 131

THE NOBLE WIFE Proverbs 30–31

“Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate” (Prov. 31:31).The last of the three sections in these two chapters puts to rest the notion that women had no significant role in ancient Hebrew society—and challenges those who today view women as somehow inferior to men.


Three authors contribute to these two chapters. Agur, humble, but a sharp observer of nature and humankind (30:1–33). King Lemuel, pen name for a man who shares his mother’s thoughts on ruling (31:1–9). And the unnamed author of an acrostic poem in praise of a fine wife (vv. 10–31).

Understanding the Text

“I am the most ignorant of men” Prov. 30:1–4. Humility was a major trait of Agur. He had learned not to measure himself against other men, but against God. As a result he had no trace of false pride or arrogance. When we compare ourselves with the Lord, there’s no room left for pride. If we learn nothing else from the Book of Proverbs, this single lesson would be enough. “Two things I ask” Prov. 30:7–9. Humility had given Agur insight into himself. He realized how vulnerable mere human beings are. His second request, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread,” reflects this insight. Agur’s perspective was very different from that of the radio preacher who shouts, “God wants all His children to be rich!” What God in grace wants for most of us is to have enough—our daily bread. But not too much. Those with riches all too often feel no need of God. And those with nothing may steal for necessities. Agur, sensing his vulnerability, wanted to be put in neither position. You or I may wonder what we would do if we inherited a lot of money and were suddenly impossibly rich. Agur reminds us to thank God for what we have. Why should we want to risk the dangers wealth brings? “The way of a man with a maiden” Prov. 30:18–19. Agur made a variety of delightful observations, comparing human behavior with what he saw in nature. Here he expressed amazement at how eagles, serpents, and ships on the high seas found their way with no marked highway. Agur would never write an advice to the lovelorn column. He knew better! There are no highways for boy-girl relationships either. Yet somehow men and women find each other, marry, and produce the next generation. The way of a man with a maiden may be trackless, but despite the lack of beaten paths love too finds its way. “It cannot bear up” Prov. 30:21–23. Agur, a man who disliked pride, noted four types who tend to be unbearably arrogant. The servant who becomes king (who, in the ancient world, probably assassinated the old king). The fool (here, nabal, the proud and wicked rebel) who is “full of food” and openly scoffs at any need for God. The “unloved woman” (old maid) who at last finds a husband (surely not for her own qualities but most likely because of a large dowry). And the young servant girl who awakens the passion of her master, and replaces her mistress as his wife. In not one of these cases does the individual have reason for pride. In each case he or she has reason for shame! You and I may take satisfaction in a position we’ve achieved by hard work and excellence. But how wicked to be proud of a position won without merit. “It is . . . not for kings to drink wine” Prov. 31:1–9. These verses of advice by a king who wrote under the pen name of Lemuel reveal a very high view of royal responsibility. The king is servant to his people, called to protect the oppressed and judge fairly. Personal indulgence is “not for kings.” They must spend their strength and vigor serving their people, not on chasing women or getting drunk. These words of a mother remind us that we must view all authority in the context of servanthood. The man who is the “head of the house,” like the king of these passages, is not to use his authority to exploit or “master” his wife, but to serve her and their children. “A wife of noble character” Prov. 31:10–31. The Jewish rabbis suggested that these words were written by Solomon in honor of his mother, Bathsheba. This is unlikely. The woman here is an ordinary housewife. While it’s true that the family is well-to-do, much credit for their prosperity is given to her! The passage does not focus on the wife’s personal relationships, but rather on what might be called her business sense. She gets up early, assigns the day’s work to her servant girls (employees!), makes sure they have the resources needed to do their work, and supervises them during the day. While the primary focus of her activities was the family needs, this Old Testament wife is also an entrepreneur. She markets the garments her staff produces: she sells linen garments and “supplies the merchants with sashes.” The passage also makes it clear that the wife is free to make use of the profits from her enterprise. She “considers a field and buys it.” This is an investment. She’s decided to diversify, and add wine making to her businesses! The wife’s complete control of her earnings is illustrated by her generosity: “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” In modern terms, she’s set up a charitable foundation to distribute some of her profits to those less fortunate. And what do the men in this society think of the activist wife? Why, “Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” Rather than being a threat to his fragile male ego, the wife’s accomplishments are a source of pride and add to his prestige! What is so striking about the Proverbs 31 description is that it so powerfully contradicts the view of some Christians that a good wife must stay home, have babies, and keep busy with housework. Proverbs 31 shows us a woman of the Old Testament who is in fact a businesswoman, using her talents and abilities to the fullest, and performing the same kind of tasks that the men of that society performed. The “noble wife” of the Old Testament is not the silent, subservient woman so many Christians imagine, but rather an assertive, accomplished woman, whose success has clothed her “with strength and dignity” and who is relied on to speak “with wisdom,” for “faithful instruction is on her tongue.” In Old Testament times women used simple machines like the distaff and spindle to make threads from wool or flax, then wove the threads into cloth they used to make the family clothing (v. 19). But, as verses 10–31 show, the wife of Old Testament times was far more than a menial who performed only simple, limited tasks while her husband took care of the important family business.


Give Her the Reward She Has Earned(Prov. 31:10–31)

I suppose it’s all right to be upset with pastors now and then. At any rate, I thought it was all right for my wife to be upset with ours. Graham is a lovely, friendly, and thoughtful young man, and we appreciate him. But as he himself is quick to admit, he’s something of a chauvinist. Women belong at home. Or doing something female, like teaching grade school. The important decisions at home are to be made by the men. And all the decisions at church—frequently even all the talking about decisions—are for men only. So one evening when we were at Graham’s house for supper, my wife confronted him. Why aren’t women first-class citizens at our church? Why are they automatically excluded from so many positions and activities? Graham immediately jumped to the conclusion that Sue was lobbying for women preachers, and gave a somewhat stirring defense of the denomination’s position. And missed the point entirely. I suspect many in our churches miss the point entirely. The point is that women too are human beings. Women too have talents and abilities. Women too have spiritual gifts—gifts that go beyond teaching toddlers, changing diapers in the church nursery, and filling the Communion cups with grape juice. And of course, washing them afterward. Women, as members of the body of Christ, are essential to our spiritual growth and development. Yet in many churches women are given no significant role and permitted few significant ministries. And it’s a shame. Particularly when the view so many have of women is based on a faulty image of the “biblical” bride. The little woman who stays at home, looks after the kids, and lets the man deal with the important issues of life. Sometimes I wonder. Do you suppose it’s possible that Proverbs 31 was written for our instruction? And that the words, “Give her the reward she has earned,” is God’s exhortation to husbands and church leaders of today?

Personal Application

God-given gifts and talents are to be used—whatever the sex of the person who possesses them.


“God entrusted women with some of His most important tasks. He sent women with the Resurrection news to the rest of the disciples. Jesus accepted women into full discipleship. He commended Mary of Bethany for her efforts to sit at His feet and learn, rather than do the accepted thing and retire to the kitchen. To those who say women cannot fill positions of leadership, the Bible says women did. As the great evangelist D.L. Moody replied when someone asked him what a woman can do to serve Christ, ‘What could they not do?’ ”—Patricia Gundry

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary

MAY 10

Reading 130


“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Prov. 29:25).Though his observations are brief, this collection of Solomon’s sayings gives us deep insights into personal relationships.


In-depth study.

So far we’ve noted two ways to study the Proverbs. One is to read through a chapter, and note specific verses that “jump out” at us. The other is to do a topical study, and compare all the proverbs on a particular subject. In this unit we’re looking at a third method for studying the Proverbs. I’ve called it “in-depth,” though perhaps it might better be called “meditative.” To use this approach we simply look at a proverb and think carefully about it. What does the proverb say? What does it imply? What is the background that gave rise to it? To what situations might it apply? In today’s commentary I use this method to explore several proverbs selected from these sayings of Solomon.


These five chapters of brief sayings attributed to Solomon were added to Proverbs in the time of Hezekiah.

Understanding the Text

“If you argue your case with a neighbor” Prov. 25:8–10. What are we to do when we hear a rumor about someone, or see some suspicious act? Jump to conclusions? Run quickly to tell everyone we know? This group of proverbs suggests that the worst thing to do is to spread a rumor, or even make an accusation based on something we’ve witnessed. After all, we don’t know the whole story. We don’t know the motive for the act we saw, or all the circumstances surrounding it. Solomon suggested that we withhold judgment, and not hurry off to “bring [our neighbor] hastily to court [i.e., accuse him].” We’ll look mighty foolish if he has a good explanation! Solomon suggested that we go to our neighbor and “argue our case” with him. This doesn’t mean repeating what others have said in confidence: “Well, George said that you. . . . ” To repeat what others say is betraying a confidence. Do this, and when others find out, you’ll have a reputation that you’ll never be able to live down! On the one hand, Solomon’s words are simply good advice. They make a lot of sense. On the other hand, they are rooted in a unique view of the godly society. In a godly society if you witness or hear something about another person, you can’t just shrug your shoulders and say, “That’s his business.” You are accountable for the welfare of the other person, and for the purity of your community. To fulfill your responsibility you first go to the person involved. You share what you’ve seen or heard, and give him a chance to explain. In doing this you both show your concern for truth, and for the other person himself. If he can explain, well and good. If confronting helps him to set things right, again well and good. If he will not respond, that’s time enough to involve others and possibly the courts. Solomon’s point is that while you must do something, what you do had better be the right thing! And the right thing is not to gossip about what you’ve seen, or spread a rumor you’ve heard. The right thing is to go directly to the other person, to find out the truth, and to help. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” Prov. 27:5–6. What is friendship really all about? Today we can take courses on how to win friends and influence people. While those who teach tell us not to use the techniques they show us to manipulate others, all too often the goal we have in making friends is just this. We want to ingratiate ourselves; to use the relationship for some personal gain. Solomon, in exploring friendship, makes a different proposal. To win friends be a friend. Truly care about the other person. Rather than use him or her, serve. This view of friendship is behind each of Solomon’s sayings. Why is open rebuke better than hidden love? Because such love is morally useless. It fails to tell its object his or her faults, and thus leaves him or her without information that might lead to reform. When we hesitate to rebuke a person our motive is not really love. It is fear that we might be rejected or attacked. We’re not really concerned about the other person: we’re concerned about ourselves! Turning the saying around, Solomon invites us to evaluate our attitude to those who profess to be our friends. Do we prefer the flatterer? The person who has nothing but praise for us—while we’re with him—may very well be an enemy. You can tell a true friend by his willingness to wound you when a wound is for your own good. No, not everyone who hurts you is a friend. But we should be able to tell the difference between an insensitive clod who tells us something that is hurtful, and says, “Now this is for your own good,” and the person who really cares and shows caring by telling us the truth in love. Solomon’s insights are just as valid today as they were 3,000 years ago. Friendship calls for honesty exercised in the best interests of another, and for appreciating such honesty from others, even when it hurts.


Let It Out!(Prov. 29:11)

I’m often amazed at the new treatments psychologists come up with. A few years ago one popular fad was, let it out! If you feel angry, let it out. Take this foam-rubber bat and hit something as hard as you can. If you feel hostile, say all those nasty things you’re thinking. If you ventilate your feelings, the theory goes, you’ll get rid of them. If you hold them in, they’ll grow stronger. Nice theory. Of course, it doesn’t really work. Solomon knew that 3,000 years ago, and said so when he wrote, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (v. 11). When we practice letting any sinful or negative feeling out, what happens is that we become less able to control it next time. Rather than “ventilating” the emotion and getting rid of it, we find it returns more often. And, like a muscle that we exercise over and over again, those feelings we “let out” become stronger too. The reason is deeply rooted in the very nature of human beings. You and I are moral creatures. That means we are to stand in judgment of our own emotions. We are to choose against our emotions if those emotions are wrong. We are to be controlled, not by what we feel, but by what we know to be right. When a person chooses to “let out” his anger or hostility, he is not getting rid of it. He is permitting it to master him. How wonderful that in Christ you and I have a better way to deal with our anger. We can choose to do what is right—and confess our sinful feelings to God and ask Him to change them, and us. When we do, God works His gradual transformation within us, until we become loving rather than angry women and men.

Personal Application

Do what you know is right, not what you feel.


“There are many queer ideas about cross bearing. I recall a man once saying to me, ‘I have a fierce temper, but I suppose that is my cross.’ “ ‘My friend,’ I said to him (lovingly, I hope!), ‘That is not your cross. It is your wife’s cross, but it is your sin!’ ”—Alan Redpath

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 129

SAYINGS OF THE WISE Proverbs 22:17–24:34

“My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right” (Prov. 23:15–16).Speaking directly to us, the wise of the ancient world recapture the style of chapters 1–9, of a father speaking with his hand resting on the shoulder of his son. As Proverbs 23:15–16 says, a good father rejoices when his son or daughter speaks what is right.


These “sayings of the wise” abandon the brief saying in favor of paragraph—length observations that convey the practical wisdom of the ancient world.

Understanding the Text

“Listen to the sayings of the wise” Prov. 22:17–21. Proverbs are valuable to us only if we listen carefully, take them to heart, and pass them on as well as practice them. They must also be understood not as gimmicks by which others are manipulated, but as ways to express our trust in the Lord in daily life. This introductory paragraph helps us understand why the proverbs “work.” While some simply provide penetrating insights into how human society works, many function only because God Himself supervises the consequences of the choices you and I make. “Do not exploit the poor” Prov. 22:22–23. The warning not to exploit the poor “for the Lord will take up their case” illustrates the point made above. Living by the Proverbs does require faith. Many actually do become rich and seem to prosper at the expense of the poor. Only the conviction that God is a just Judge makes us sure that in the end “the Lord will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.” It takes faith to follow guidelines given in Proverbs, just as it takes faith to respond to any Word of God. “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man” Prov. 22:24–25. Never suppose that you can avoid being influenced by your friends. So don’t choose as a friend someone with a major character flaw. This proverb warns, “You may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” “Do not be a man who . . . puts up security for debts” Prov. 22:26–27. Economic advice too is found in these proverbs. These verses simply mean: never cosign a loan unless you’re ready and willing to pay it off yourself! “When you sit to dine with a ruler” Prov. 23:1–3. The social climber is likely to find himself in a situation where he feels most uncomfortable! “Do not wear yourself out to get rich” Prov. 23:4–5. The person who focuses his whole life on getting rich makes a bad bargain. Jesus made the same point when He called on us to store up treasures in heaven, where no moth or rust can corrupt and no thief break through and steal (Matt. 6:19–21). Note again the relationship of this proverb to faith. Only the believer, who sees a reality beyond this present universe, is likely to show such restraint. “Do not eat the food of a stingy man”Prov. 23:6–8. It doesn’t really pay to wheedle favors from others by manipulating them with compliments. Anything not freely given creates hostility in the heart of the giver, and will not benefit us in the end. “Do not move an ancient boundary stone” Prov. 23:10–11. In Israel, boundary stones marked the borders of each family’s fields. To move the boundary stone was to steal a little bit of a neighbor’s land. Why not? “Their Defender is strong; He will take up their case against you.” Again we see why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Only a person who takes God fully into account will view Him as the active Defender of the weak. “Do not let your heart envy sinners” Prov. 23:17–18. Envy is a mix of resentment and admiration. If we do not secretly admire a sinner, and feel resentment that he has what we want, we will be free of one of life’s most corrupting influences. How do we find such freedom? By being constantly aware of God. If we keep Him before us, we will not envy sinners and will have hope for the future. “Do not join those who drink too much wine” Prov. 23:19–21. The partying lifestyle of the “beautiful people” of our day is not good for us—or for them! “Do not gaze at wine when it is red” Prov. 23:29–35. The sober person who looks at a drunk sees the impact of alcoholism (v. 29). But the drunkard, fascinated by his wine, is unable to grasp the reality of his condition (vv. 30–33). Even when he staggers from side to side like a sailor on a stormy sea, he claims he is fine—and thinks only of where he can get his next drink (vv. 34–35). “Do not envy wicked men” Prov. 24:1–4. The wicked are destructive influences; the wise are constructive. Sinners tear down, and trample beautiful things; the wise build, and furnish society with beauty. “Do not gloat when your enemy falls” Prov. 24:17–18. Delight at an enemy’s downfall is as great a sin as the one he is being punished for! “An honest answer” Prov. 24:23–26. Total honesty is essential in every relationship, including honest confrontation of those who do wrong. “A little sleep” Prov. 24:30–34. A look at the situation of the lazy man teaches an important lesson. It’s dangerous to think, “Well, I’ll just take it easy for a while.” This soon becomes a lifestyle that guarantees poverty.


Somebody Else(Prov. 24:11–12)

I read a poem recently about Somebody Else. With tongue in cheek, the poet expressed admiration for this person who does so much for church and community. Why, every time anyone he knew was asked to help out, that person suggested Somebody Else do it. And, sure enough, Somebody Else did! Proverbs 24:11–12 suggests, however, that you and I aren’t to stand back and let Somebody Else take moral stands. “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?” We can plead ignorance. But we remain responsible for what happens in our society. I think the Rev. Donald E. Wildmon must have taken this proverb to heart. One night when he was trying to watch TV with his family, he had to ask his children to switch off a show on each of the major networks. After watching just a few minutes, each show portrayed some immoral or violent act he knew it was wrong to expose his family to. That led him to visit the networks to express his concern and, when the networks failed to respond, to form an organization which now goes directly to advertisers. When a show approvingly portrays adultery, violence, or other immoral acts, Don Wildmon goes to the advertiser and asks if these are the values they want associated with their products. And if they do, he makes it clear that he is ready to exercise his right not to buy that product. Is this censorship? Not at all. Wildmon says, “I have as much right as any other individual in this society to try to shape society. I have as much right to try to influence people. I have as much right to create what I consider to be a decent, good, clean, wholesome, moral society.” In the words of Proverbs, when Wildmon saw our society “being led away to death” he refused to say he “knew nothing about this.” Instead he accepted the responsibility that rests on all Christians to respond when evil threatens others. And he acted. In acting as he has, Don Wildmon has set an example for us all.

Personal Application

The next time you see an injustice or a wrong, ask yourself: Is God’s Somebody Else me?


“One has to have an ethical base for a society. Where the prime force is impulse, there is the death of ethics. America used to have ethical laws based in Jerusalem. Now they are based in Sodom and Gomorrah, and civilizations rooted in Sodom and Gomorrah are destined to collapse.”—Jesse Jackson

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 128

SOLOMON’S WISE SAYINGS Proverbs 10:1–22:16

“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception” (Prov. 14:8).The pithy sayings of Proverbs apply to moderns as well as to the Israelite of the ancient East. Billy Graham once said he read a psalm each morning to enrich relationship with God, and a chapter of Proverbs each evening to guide his dealings with his fellowmen.


On reading Proverbs. Either of two ways to read the Proverbs—straight through, or by drawing out sayings on a common topic—can be helpful. Either of these two ways is appropriate for devotional reading; each is illustrated in today’s look at the sayings of Solomon. For your reading, choose the approach which feels most comfortable to you.


Each of these chapters contains sayings that share insights into a variety of practical matters. We can draw sayings on a given topic together to develop more complete pictures of such things as a righteous way of life, the values of discipline, or attitudes toward work, laziness, and poverty.

Understanding the Text

“The proverbs of Solomon” Prov. 10:1–32. This first chapter of Solomon’s proverbs touches on many varied facts of life: v. 1. The choices we make necessarily affect others, not just ourselves. vv. 2–3. Wealth gained by wicked means can never provide security. vv. 4–5. Hard work is rewarded—and so is laziness! vv. 6–7. Goodness brings lasting blessing, wickedness does not. v. 8. It’s better to listen than to blither on without paying attention. v. 9. The person with nothing to hide has nothing to fear. v. 10. Any act that harms others is a first step on the road to ruin. v. 11. The spoken word can heal or harm others. v. 12. Our basic character is revealed in the way we treat others. v. 13. Punishment will overtake the man whose judgment is poor. v. 14. Discretion calls for thinking before speaking. vv. 15–16. Wealth provides a measure of security. But wealth unjustly gained provides only disaster. v. 17. The teachable man is the best teacher. v. 18. The problem with hatred is that it corrupts the one who hates. vv. 19–21. Words are important. Be careful how you use them. v. 22. God’s blessing is the only true wealth. (This emphasis is suggested in the grammer of the Heb. construction.) v. 23. What a person enjoys reveals his character. vv. 24–25. The fears and insecurity experienced by the wicked are well-founded! v. 26. How frustrating it is to work with a lazy person. vv. 27–30. The confidence of the righteous is well-founded too! vv. 31–32. The words of a righteous person are both wise and helpful. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33) illustrates how Proverbs reveals a people’s basic attitude toward life. The biblical universe is not ruled by chance, but all lies under the control of the sovereign God. We should read the Proverbs of the Bible with an eye to their underlying as well as obvious meanings. “The plans of the righteous are just” Prov. 12:5. One topic which is given much attention by Solomon is righteousness. The righteous make just, not violent plans (v. 5; cf. 16:27, 30; 21:7), for they truly care about justice (17:23, 26; 18:5; 19:28). Because the righteous are concerned for those in need, the righteous are generous (12:10; 21:25–26). They hate falsehood and dishonesty (13:5), so in all they do the righteous are upright (11:3; 15:19; 21:8). As a result the righteous are delivered from troubles that the wicked bring on themselves (11:8, 21; 12:21; 13:17; 22:5). They rightly feel secure (10:9, 25, 30; 12:3, 7; 14:11, 32), and have hope for the future (10:11, 16; 11:8, 19; 12:28; 16:31; 21:21). The righteous receive what they want; the wicked what they dread (10:24; 11:23). The righteous know joy (10:28; 12:20; 21:15) and are rewarded; the wicked get what they deserve (11:18, 31; 14:14). The dividing line between the righteous and wicked is clear, no matter how a society may attempt to confuse it by calling the corrupt “adult,” and by exploiting violence under the banner of “free speech.” God is never deceived, even though courts and lawmakers may be. We who choose righteousness surely are and will be blessed. Those who reject it will receive what their actions deserve. “He who spares the rod hates his son” Prov. 13:24. The Jewish people were noted for their love of children, and were among the best of parents in the ancient world. Such sayings as this lend no support to an abusive approach to child-rearing, but instead emphasize the necessity of discipline if boys and girls are to freely choose God’s way as adults. Discipline was not harsh, but loving and purposeful: “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope” (19:18), and “folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (22:15). Proverbs reminds us that we adults too are subject to discipline: God’s. When God disciplines us, His motive too is loving. The wise person recognizes this and gladly responds, while the foolish man rebels and is punished (10:17; 12:1; 13:1, 18; 15:5, 12, 32; 17:10; 19:16, 25; 21:11). “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” Prov. 14:23. The proverbs of Solomon often contrast the benefits of hard work and the disaster courted by laziness. The one who works his land produces food, profit, wealth, and high status (10:4–5; 12:11, 24, 27; 13:4; 14:23; 22:29). Whatever his excuses (v. 13), the lazy man will soon lack even necessities (18:9; 20:4, 13).


Blessed Are the Poor?(Selected Proverbs)

In general, the Proverbs seem to take a middle-class attitude and blame poverty on the poor. That view is reflected in such sayings as, “Lazy hands make a man poor” (10:4), “Do not love sleep, or you will grow poor” (20:13), “He who loves pleasure will become poor” (21:17), and, “Drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (23:21). At the same time, the Proverbs show that at times the poor are victims of powerful others. “A poor man’s field may produce abundant food,” 13:23 notes, “but injustice sweeps it away.” The reality of injustice is shown in warnings against harming the powerless poor (18:23; 22:16). Indeed, the well-to-do are to offer help: “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered” (21:13). It’s true that in society the rich are generally lionized and the poor ignored (14:20; 19:4, 6–7). It is also true that wealth protects the rich from dangers to which the poor are vulnerable (10:15; 18:11). Yet wealth is not an unmixed good, nor poverty an evil. After all, “A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat” (13:8). No one bothers to kidnap a poor man! Perhaps the most significant saying, however, is found in 19:17. “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.” What is so important about this proverb? It reflects the Old Testament’s conviction that God has a special love for the poor. Society ignores, exploits, or abandons the poor. But God makes the poor an object of His special concern. When we are sensitive to the needs of the poor, we are close to God, for God Himself is on their side.

Personal Application

We are not to assign blame for poverty, but to help the poor.


Advantages of Being Poor 1. The poor know they are in urgent need of redemption. 2. The poor know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with one another. 3. The poor rest their security not on things but on people. 4. The poor have no exaggerated sense of their own importance and no exaggerated need of privacy. 5. The poor expect little from competition and much from cooperation. 6. The poor can distinguish between necessities and luxuries. 7. The poor can wait, because they have acquired a kind of dogged patience born of acknowledged dependence. 8. The fears of the poor are more realistic and less exaggerated, because they already know that one can survive great suffering and want. 9. When the poor have the Gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threat or a scolding. 10. The poor can respond to the call of the Gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.—Monica Hellwig, as quoted by Philip Yancey

Considering the Bible

Scripture Musings

The Official Home of Rolli - Author, Cartoonist and Songwriter

Pure Glory

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Psalms 19:1

The daily addict

The daily life of an addict in recovery

The Christian Tech-Nerd

-Reviews, Advice & News For All Things Tech and Gadget Related-

Thinking Through Scripture

to help you walk with Jesus in faith, hope, and love.

A disciple's study

This is my personal collection of thoughts and writings, mainly from much smarter people than I, which challenge me in my discipleship walk. Don't rush by these thoughts, but ponder them.

Author Scott Austin Tirrell

Maker of fine handcrafted novels!


Sharing words of Support, Motivation and Compassion

In Pursuit of My First Love

Returning to the First Love

Becoming HIS Tapestry

Christian Lifestyle Blogger


Biblical postings, Talmidim- meaning students

Unshakable Hope

"All of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain." (Hebrews 12:27)

Life Hub Inspirations

Finding inspirations through the Word of God. A hub of encouraging thoughts and reflections.

Fountains of hope poetry

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Home of Micropoetry, Literature, art and philosophy.

Bible Daily

Hannah's daily devotional

Learning From God's Word

Prayers, Bible Readings Notes, Sermons And Theological Articles

The Eyes of My Heart

Stay true to His calling

Ritika Rasal

Never Wanted Perfect Just Real