The poor is the subject of 6 of the 28 verses found in Proverbs 28. What did it mean to be poor in Solomon’s day?
Historically, the poor have been destitute—left to glean leftover grain in fields or beg sitting by the way. Examples of impoverished men and women are found throughout the scriptures, including widows, orphans, the blind, diseased and crippled. The poor have been ever-present throughout history and no amount of government aid or intervention will eliminate poverty. Teaching His disciples, Jesus said, “Ye have the poor always with you…” (Matthew 26:11).
Unlike America’s poor who receive food stamps, subsidized housing, healthcare, cell phones (the list goes on and on) and are wealthy by Third World standards, the poor have historically been a hardworking, oppressed people dependent upon the charity of family and others.
Proverbs 28:3 presents a sad commentary on the depravity of man, that a poor man would wrong and defraud another as unfortunate as himself.
Proverbs 28:3 – “A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.”
Solomon describes the oppressor’s actions as a “sweeping rain”—like a heavy down pour that washes away seedlings or a crop ready for harvesting—leaving the farmer, his family and servants destitute and begging for food.
Proverbs 28:6 gives us an illustration of a poor man who is a man of integrity, contrasted with a rich man who is a thief and deceiver.
Proverbs 28:6 – “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.”
Solomon’s challenged his son that a poor man with integrity is more noble than a rich man who pursues a crooked and perverse path. Liberals are forever explaining crime in poor areas as an outcome of poverty. They argue, eliminate poverty and you will eliminate crime. That line of reasoning is both foolish and a lie; if it were true, the rich would be the most lawful among us, rather than the greatest perpetrators of “white collar” crime.
Lawlessness knows no boundary in an ungodly society and the poor and rich are equal offenders of truth and honesty. The government has spent trillions of dollars in its “War on Poverty” and we are no better as a nation! The heart and soul of what made America great was not the vastness of her resources or the wealth of her citizenry. America was great because the people of her heartland were rich in godly character.
There would be hope for America if Christians were more focused on having godly character and less on money and possessions!