Giving to the Poor
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack:
but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
1. In this simple proverb, Solomon speaks about the results of being either generous or stingy towards the poor.
2. This principle has great application to us today—with some minor adjustments for dispensational distinctions.
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack:
A. Giving to the Poor
1. Here Solomon speaks about giving to the poor.
2. The term he used is broader than giving financially.
a. This Hebrew word is used about 2000 times according to the Complete Word Study Dictionary.
b. It involves many shades of meaning: To give; ascribe; bestow; commit; consider; present an offering; granting.
3. Thus, when used in conjunction with giving to the poor, it may imply more than just monetary donations.
a. It would certainly include giving money.
b. But it also implies “considering” them – considering their cause and being sensitive to their situation.
c. It may imply granting funds to the poor as a national endeavor. Remember, Solomon was the king of a nation.
d. It could include providing opportunities for them.
e. There are lots of ways to help the poor. People (even today) are not always in agreement as to what is the BEST way to help the poor. (Should we give them free corn or teach them how to plant corn? Should we give them fish or give them a fishing pole?)
f. As believers, we may disagree as to what is the best way to help the poor, but we should be in agreement on the fact that God has always desired His people to be considerate of the poor.
g. Solomon doesn’t recommend any particular program for the poor here. Rather, he speaks of the principle: giving to the poor is good. It is God’s will.
4. The poor defined:
a. Dictionary of Biblical Languages: “to be in a state of not having enough income or means of livelihood for normal essential needs.”
b. It can refer to a person in need.
c. It can refer to people who have “few resources and little standing or influence in a society.” (Complete Word Study – Old Testament)
d. The term also can describe a weakened condition (sometimes the result of a lack of food or water). The poor are usually the weakest group in any society and are easily trampled over.
e. Solomon is obviously speaking here of one who is poor through no fault of his own. That is not always the case.
5. Solomon sometimes spoke of the poor in a bad light.
a. Prov. 10:4 – “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” Laziness results in poverty.
b. Prov. 20:13 – A love for sleep also leads to poverty.
c. Proverbs 28:19 – “Hanging around” with “vain persons” also leads to poverty.
d. Prov. 23:21 – An overly indulgent lifestyle leads to poverty. Solomon uses two examples: “drunkenness and gluttony” Spending too much might also be included in that overly indulgent lifestyle.
e. But that is certainly NOT always the case.
6. Often, people are living in poverty through NO FAULT of their own.
a. A person may be in poverty because he happened to be born in a poor country—ruled by a dishonest and greedy dictator who abuses his power and keeps the nation’s wealth for himself.
b. A person may be in poverty because he became sick and unable to work, or perhaps his company fell on hard times and laid him off.
c. There are lots reasons for poverty. We should not be quick to judge the poor until we have walked in their moccasins.
d. Prov. 22:2 – “The Lord is the Maker of them all,” meaning both the rich and the poor.
• God sovereignly appoints individuals to poverty for His own good reasons.
• Perhaps it is to test our faith or to cause us to depend upon Him more.
• God is the MAKER of both groups.
• We look at the rich or poor from an earthly perspective and usually think highly of the rich and not so highly of the poor.
• God does not see mankind that way as Maker. The Creator looks at them all as His creatures, made in His image.
e. The fact of the existence of these two groups is to be traced back to God: to His providence and to His sovereignty.
• The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. That is His right as Sovereign and Creator. He has allowed men to be born into and to live in either great wealth or poverty.
• Ecc. 5:19 – Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.
• I Sam. 2:7-8 – The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich.
• Deut. 8:18 – For it is HE that giveth thee power to get wealth.
f. The Bible is pretty clear that God is sovereign over the social strata into which men are born, live, and grow.
7. This proverb encourages us to be generous in our giving to the poor. This principle is seen in every age.
a. Israel under LAW:
• Lev. 25:35 – RELIEVE the poor: “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him.”
• Ps. 82:3-4 – DEFEND the poor: “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”
• Deut. 15:11 – BE GENEROUS to the poor: “For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” (see vs. 7 – harden not your heart)
b. Church under GRACE:
• Gal. 2:10 – REMEMBER the poor: “Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.”
• Gal. 6:10 – DO GOOD: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
• Acts 20:35 – SUPPORT the weak; “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
• Acts 11:29-30 – SEND RELIEF: “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”
• Romans 15:26 – CONTRIBUTE: “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”
• I John 3:17 – SHOW COMPASSION: “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
• Clearly the church is to be generous to the poor – in particular, to the poor saints.
B. Shall Not Lack
1. Here we see a slight dispensational distinction.
2. Under the Law, those who obeyed could expect blessings for obedience in this life.
a. Deut. 15:10-11 – “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.”
b. Prov. 3:9-10 – “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: 10So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
c. Deut. 28:1-6 – This was part of the Mosaic Covenant. “If ye obey… then I will bless.”
d. Prov. 19:17 – “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”
3. In the age of grace, we are also promised blessing for obedience and for giving to the poor. However, the blessing is not promised for this life but rather, heavenly rewards.
a. Luke 14:13-14 – “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
But he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
1. The opposite of generous giving followed by blessing is mentioned.
2. The one who hides his eyes
a. This speaks of the one who SEES the poverty.
b. In the story of the Good Samaritan, there was a priest and a Levite who SAW the plight of the crime victim, beaten, and lying on the road. They turned their eyes the other way.
c. God providentially caused their pathways to cross and they refused to offer any help.
d. This is willful ignorance. This man cannot excuse himself for a lack of knowledge. He saw and chose to hide his eyes.
3. This man shall have many a curse.
a. This too has dispensational ramifications.
b. This was part of the Mosaic Law. If a Jew did NOT obey, then he could expect cursings.
c. Prov. 11:26 – “He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him…” This curse shall come from the people he treats cruelly.
d. Deut. 28:15 – These curses shall come from the Lord Himself.
e. The application for the Christian here is that if we refuse to help the poor, we will lose rewards that we could have had.
• When God confronts us with a “Good Samaritan” moment, he expects us to help the poor.
• I John 3:17 – When God confronts us with the need of a brother, he expects us to show love and compassion.
• These are opportunities for the believer to manifest Christ and when he acts in love and obedience, then he will be rewarded in heaven.
• God may bless us in this life for our generosity. But we are not to give in order to get, or to obey in order to be blessed. We are to give because we have already been blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
4. Our proverb encourages generosity towards the poor… and consequences for our action or inaction.