Proverbs 14:31b

Mercy on the Poor Honors God


1. The poor defined:

a. Strong’s: in want, needy, chiefly a poor, needy person. 2 subject to oppression and abuse. 3 needing help, deliverance from trouble, especially as delivered by God. 4 general reference to lowest class

b. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament: ebyôn emphasizes “need” and thus is to be distinguished from oni^ “afflicted,” dal “poor,” and raš “weak”.

c. Thus, Solomon used the term that speaks primarily of one in NEED… and especially in need of “goods.” (food, clothing, shelter, etc…)

2. Mercy: to be gracious; show favour; pity; an act of kindness; compassion to another.

a. In this passage, it speaks especially of the very practical side: meeting a need.

b. It is not a FEELING of pity… but an ACT of mercy… DOING something to alleviate a person’s lack or need.

3. God Himself has mercy on the poor… the needy. It is His nature to be merciful.

a. Deut. 10:17-18 – God does not respect persons.
• He is not impressed with a person’s position or wealth.
• In fact, He executes judgment for those who are in need: fatherless and widow and the stranger… people in need.
• God is OFTEN spoken of as a father to the fatherless… He shows mercy to those in need: the poor; fatherless; orphans; widows; etc…

b. When the Savior came to earth, He related to the poor and the needy…

c. Ps. 113:7 – …He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among the princes.”

d. Ps. 40:37 – I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me…

e. Ps. 72:12-14 – God delivers and spares the poor and needy. (He not only thinks about their condition… He does something about it!)

f. Ps. 132:15 – He satisfies the poor (in Zion) with bread.

4. Usually (though not exclusively) when the poor are mentioned in Scripture, the author generally refers to the poor among God’s people.

a. Giving to the poor usually meant giving to the needs of the poor brethren… whether in Israel or in the church.

b. But of course, showing mercy is not to be restricted to believers. It is part of our testimony as believers to do goodunto all men, but especially unto the household of faith. (Gal. 6:10)

5. We have a responsibility to show mercy to the poor. This has always been God’s will… in any age.

a. Deut. 15:7 – If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother.

b. I John 3:17-18 – when we have the ability to help a poor brother, we should…

c. Luke 6:36 – We should be merciful because of who God is… it is His nature to be merciful. Therefore, when filled with the fullness of God, we too should be merciful!

d. Prov. 3:3 – mercy should be engraved on our heart…

e. Ps. 37:26 – it is characteristic of a righteous man… of saints.

f. Thus, Solomon is saying that it is not enough to STOP oppressing them… but on the positive side, we are to START showing mercy to them!

g. Put off the behavior of the old man… and put on the behavior of the new man.

h. Eph. 4:28 – Stop stealing and start GIVING. Stopping the bad behavior is only half the duty. Go the extra mile and start GIVING to those in need.

6. There are certain BENEFITS to showing mercy to the poor!

a. Prov. 22:9 – the bountiful eye is blessed…
• This speaks of someone who keeps their eyes open for opportunities to show mercy…
• He is LOOKING for opportunity to show mercy.
• This man is eager… he shows mercy, not out of compulsion, but with cheerfulness… which is just the way that WE are to show mercy!
• Rom. 12:8 – he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

b. Prov. 14:21 – happy is he!
• There is a built-in blessing for those who give.
• Jesus said, It is MORE blessed to give than to receive.

c. Prov. 19:17 – lendeth to the Lord and will be repaid.
• Showing pity to the poor = LENDING to the Lord.
• The one who gives money to the poor, in a sense, is giving it to the Lord.
• Only it is GIVEN to the poor, but on LOAN to the Lord… for the Lord repays!
• This does NOT mean that the one who lends to the poor will be repaid monetarily from the Lord.
• Deut. 15:10 – Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.”
• As a Christian, our repayment is the JOY of being used of the Lord. We can expect the BLESSING of God in our lives… joy, contentment, peace, rest…

d. Prov. 28:27 – he that gives to the poor shall not lack.
• Gods’ ways are not our ways.
• We think that if we are to avoid lack, we must hoard… keep it all to ourselves. That’s the way to avoid lack.
• God says just the opposite: he that GIVES to the poor shall not lack.
• Prov. 11:24 – There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
• God thinks differently than man does.
• Here the Lord states that giving is like scattering good seed. When you scatter seed, you end up with less seeds… but you increase in your crops.
• The one who holds and hoards all the seed and doesn’t sow it… ends up with a handful of seeds… while the other man has fields full of crops!
• God’s ways DO make perfect sense.

e. Prov. 11:17 – doeth good to his own soul. (it feels good!)
• Again, there is a blessedness that comes from giving…
• Blessed are the merciful… for they shall receive mercy!
• The soul who gives out mercy… will also receive mercy… from God and others.
• Heb. 6:10 – One of the ways that GOOD is done to his own soul is the fact that God REMEMBERS the good we have done to others… and He rewards such service.

f. Of course this should not be our motivation. We should not give in order to get.

g. But when we DO give with pure motives… (To glorify God by helping others) then there is a blessing attached!

7. Be gracious and generous, but also be discerning.

a. When Solomon speaks of the “poor” he seems to imply those who are poor through no fault of their own…

b. He is not speaking of the scam artist or the man who refuses to work, or the man who begs money for a bottle of cheap wine.

c. We have no obligation to give to those folks—even if they are poor… even if they are starving! God says that if a man will not work, neither should he eat. (II Thess. 3:10)

d. By showing mercy to such folks, we could be doing more harm than good. We re removing the God-instituted STING designed to motivate the man to work!


1. Honors: to make heavy; honourable; to glorify; esteem of great value.

a. Those who want to honor God will demonstrate it by showing compassion to the poor…

b. God says that He is honored by this kind of action.

c. When a believer does this… empowered by the Holy Spirit… for the glory of God… he is manifesting the indwelling LIFE of Christ.

d. God is HONORED by that practical manifestation of life.

e. Prov.3:9 – we are to honor God with our substance… with the way we USE the money, property, or assets that God has entrusted to us. This includes giving TO the Lord’s work… but also includes using our resources to help those in need. That also honors God.

f. Phil.4:17-18 – it is honoring to God; it is a sweet smelling savor to Him.

2. This is an example of God identifying with His creatures.

a. Jesus said of the Jews in the Tribulation: “for I was hungry and ye gave me meat…”

b. Jesus said of the church: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

c. The way we treat people is a reflection of our attitude towards their Maker. (Helping the needy = honoringGod)

d. We may never be in a position to lift the poor out of poverty as a whole… or to improve their standard of living… but we CAN show mercy to those whose lives intersect with ours.

e. It doesn’t have to a million dollars either.
• Buy a family in need with a bag of groceries…
• Mail a gift card anonymously to someone in need
• Drop a bag of clothes off at a brother’s house…
• Buy some new shoes for their kids…
• Send a gift to a missionary…

f. In doing so, Solomon says we are honoring God. That’s a worthy goal… and a very practical way to glorify the Lord… and manifest Christ to the world.