Proverbs 19:17

Pity Upon the Poor

17a He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD

A. He That Hath Pity Upon the Poor

1. Poor: Low, poor, weak, having little wealth and so of a humble condition and low status and vulnerable to oppression.

a. This term is used often as a noun to designate poor and oppressed persons for whom the Lord has a special concern.

b. Prov. 19:4 – Solomon earlier spoke of the poor as those who have few friends.

c. I Sam. 2:7-8 – The Lord is sovereign over a man’s status. He delights in raising up the poor.

d. But God does NOT raise up all of the poor. He ALLOWS many men to remain in poor, weak, lowly positions.

e. God has a reason for that. It serves His purpose for there to be people who are weak and lowly and in positions where they suffer great need.

2. Pity: To be gracious, show favor; show an act of kindness or compassion to another.

3. The man who has pity is not a man who FEELS something. He is a man who DOES something.

a. His pity is more than simply feeling sorry for the weak and sad plight of others.

b. His pity is not just an inward emotion.

c. Rather, it is an inward emotion that MOVES him to action.

d. He DOES something about the situation that causes him to feel sorry.

e. The man who HAS pity on the poor SHOWS pity towards the poor.

4. True pity is expressed in DEEDS.

a. It is expressed by meeting the needs of the one who is weak and poor.

b. He doesn’t say, “Be warmed and filled.” He helps provide them with food and clothing.

c. This principle was an important part of Old Testament Law.

d. Deut. 15:7-11 – Open your hand wide to your poor Jewish brother.

B. Lending to the Lord

1. Lending:

a. This term literally means to be “joined together” with someone; to be associated or bound to someone in a relationship.

b. It is used in being joined together monetarily.

c. Hence, it can mean EITHER to lend or to borrow. The context has to determine which.
• Cf. Prov. 22:7 – where the word appears twice and is translated in both ways: borrower and lender.
• Cf. Deut. 28:12 – where it is again translated both lender and borrower.

2. The one who has pity on the poor by meeting their needs is in a sense, LENDING unto the Lord.

a. This implies that it COSTS us something to meet the needs of the poor, the weak, and the lowly.

b. Solomon’s point here is that whatever we SPEND on the poor is like money (or effort; work; etc.) that we are LOANING to God.

c. We are not only showing mercy and love to the poor man, but we are demonstrating love to the Lord!

d. This transforms our ministry to men into a service for God.

e. Proverbs 14:31 – One’s treatment of the poor and weak, the feeble is an expression of one’s attitude towards God.
• If you want to honor God—show mercy to His people in need!

3. This also ought to transform our MOTIVES in such service.

a. It’s for the Lord, not man.

b. That means that we can minister to men we may not actually LIKE.

c. We can minister to the UNLOVELY… when we realize that it is actually the LORD we are serving.

d. Even if we later discover that the people we ministered to were just taking advantage of us, it does not detract from our ministry to the Lord.

e. Paul took up this principle in Colossians in giving instructions to servants with respect to their masters—even cruel masters.

4. This elevates our service concerning temporal and earthly things to that which is eternal and heavenly in nature.

5. There is a great sense of satisfaction that comes from obeying God in this area.

a. Prov.14:21 – “Happy” is the man who shows mercy on the poor.

b. Prov. 22:9 – He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

c. There are two levels of the kind of happiness of which Solomon describes.
• There is a happiness on an earthly level.
→ This is often the driving force behind philanthropy.
→ It feels good to help others.
→ Many unsaved men regularly give to the poor.
→ Religious men from all faiths give to the poor.
→ And it brings a sense of happiness to the giver.
→ It is better to give than to receive.
→ Philanthropy is good and moral on an earthly plane. It is about as good as the unsaved man can do.
→ It is about one of the best things that fallen flesh can do, but it has no merit before God.
• On a spiritual plane, the happiness that comes from giving for the Lord is deeper than a feeling.
→ It is the sense of satisfaction that comes from being yielded to God and allowing Christ to be manifested through us.
→ It becomes a love offering to the Lord Himself.
→ This is the joy of the Lord! It is infinitely superior to philanthropy (the love of man).

17b And that which he hath given will he pay him again.

A. That which he hath given

1. Given: What is done; performed. It indicates the actions or good deeds done to benefit others.

2. Note that Solomon equates HAVING pity on the poor with GIVING to them.

a. The man who has pity GIVES. The man who has pity HELPS. The man who has pity DOES something to alleviate the suffering of the one he pities.

b. Pity is the kind of thing that needs to find an outlet… an expression.

B. He will pay him again.

1. The first “he” here refers to the Lord, not the poor man.

a. By giving to the poor, you are lending to the Lord and HE (the Lord) will pay back.

b. In other words, GOD will pay back the man who expresses his pity by giving to the poor.

2. Pay: Recompense, restore, pay back, restitution.

a. I Sam. 24:20 – And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.
• Saul recognizes here that he is a usurper who stole the kingdom from David.
• He also recognizes that God will RESTORE the kingdom to David one day.

b. Solomon uses a term of restitution to describe what GOD does to the man who spends himself for others.

3. God will pay back… restore whatever is spend.

a. This does not necessarily mean He will pay us back in THIS life. But He will in the life to come.

b. That’s where faith comes in.
• A person really has to BELIEVE this truth before he will be willing to practice.
• Naturally, we think like Esau. He was willing to sacrifice eternal things for the present.
• God wants us to be willing to sacrifice the temporal earthly here and now things for the eternal.

c. Consider what Jesus said to Peter. (Matt. 19:27-29)

d. Giving up anything in this life for others is no loss in light of eternity.

e. Paul was willing to spend and be spent for God’s people.

f. But he also knew that it was not foolishly spending his time, energy, and resources.

g. He realized he was laying up treasure in heaven. (Matt. 6:19-20)

h. Showing mercy and pity and helping the poor and weak is actually an investment in eternal things.

i. Psalm 37:26 – “He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.”
• It is good to give to others KNOWING that God will reward in glory. (Even a cup of cold water given in His name is rewarded.)
• But the very BEST reason to help the poor is not that God will pay us back.
• The best reason is that such action testifies concerning WHO GOD IS.
• HE is merciful and lends to the poor! It is an expression of godliness… for the Christian it is a manifestation of the indwelling life of Christ.

4. As we mentioned in the introduction, God has a PURPOSE in allowing poor and weak men to cross our pathway.

a. It becomes an opportunity for us to demonstrate the love of God to others.

b. It becomes a TEST of the sincerity of our faith…

c. It is an occasion for the indwelling Christ to manifest HIMSELF through us.

d. And what a privilege: when we allow God to use us as HIS instrument in that way, HE is glorified… and we are rewarded!

5. Two Common Abuses of this Concept:

a. People who purposely take advantage of the pity and compassion that people FEEL.
• Many have made a killing by showing pitiful pictures of poor starving children… hoping that people will respond on an emotional basis… and send in money.
• But remember, Solomon’s point is that the kind of giving he speaks of is spiritual in nature—not just emotional.
• The world gives to the poor out of earthly, temporal, and emotional motives.
• That is not bad or evil, but it is not spiritual. It is not elevated to giving to the Lord.
• That makes it merely a humanitarian effort. Even atheists give on that basis.
• It is quite secular and has no eternal value.
• I Tim. 4:8 – Here Paul distinguishes between the earthly and heavenly… the temporal and eternal.

1. Taking care of the human body (exercise; eating well; health care; etc.) does have a little profit. It profits during THIS LIFE ONLY. That is a little compared to eternity.

2. But godliness—doing things for God and with eternal values in mind—profits not only in this life, but also in the life which is to come.

3. Thus, if you are going to help someone physically (food; money; clothing; etc.) make sure that there is a Christian testimony attached to it—or it has no eternal value.

4. And be careful about groups who show pitiful pictures of starving children who claim to be Christian. Make sure you know what KIND of Christian testimony they hold to.

b. Another abuse of the concept in this passage comes from the charismatic movement.
• They teach that if you give to their ministry, then God will pay you back!
• And what they mean is in THIS life!
• They even say that God will pay you back 10 fold.
• In other words, if you give $100.00 to our ministry, God will give you $1000.00 in return somehow.
• And they put people on their platform who testify of such a “payback”—in this life.
• Thus, the motivation behind that kind of “pity” and “giving” is often selfishness and greed!
• Our adversary is clever isn’t he? He can twist a passage designed to teach God’s people to express selfless generosity for God’s glory into an expression of greed and selfishness!