The Lord Lightens their Eyes
1. This is an unusual proverb.
2. Here Solomon presents three different characters: the poor man, the deceitful man, and the LORD.
3. Then makes what initially seems to be an unrelated statement.
4. Obviously, like all proverbs, this statement is designed to make us think.
A. The Poor Man
1. POOR defined: To be in want; to be in hunger; impoverished; not having enough income for normal essential needs; bodily weakness due to a lack of food.
2. In this proverb, the poor man is seen in contrast with his opposite: the rich, deceitful, oppressor of the poor.
3. This is a contrast between good and evil.
a. The poor man is depicted as a good poor man.
b. The rich man is depicted as an evil oppressive rich man.
c. It has often been the case throughout world history that rich, powerful men tend to oppress and take advantage of the weak and the poor.
4. Obviously, this is not always the case. These are proverbial statements.
a. There are many exceptions to the rule. We are not to make assumptions about people on the basis of their wealth.
b. There are many good rich men; and many evil poor men.
c. Prov. 28:3 – Sometimes poor men oppress other poor men.
d. Sometimes rich men are very generous with their money and give philanthropically to benefit the poor.
5. But in this proverb, Solomon is pitting the rich, oppressive usurer against the poor man.
B. The Deceitful Man
1. DECEITFUL defined:
a. Deceit; fraud; oppression; oppressive creditor; usurer; injurious, pressure, anxiety, feeling weighed down.
b. The term translated “deceitful” implies a usurer or an oppressor.
2. The reason for this translation is obvious: the oppressive usurer (creditor) often uses deception in his trade.
a. He preys on the ignorance of those who are forced to take loans from him. He demands ridiculously high interest on the loans.
b. Often the poor man is not well educated, and is ignorant of how quickly his interest payments are compounded… and what a trap he is entering.
C. Meet Together
1. MEET TOGETHER:
a. To meet; to encounter; a point at which two meet or come together; to have in common.
b. The idea of “having something in common” fits the context here the best.
c. Solomon is stating that the poor man and the oppressor have something in common.
2. However, it is also true that these two characters do meet together on occasion.
a. They meet in the business world.
b. Certainly there have been times when men like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Warren Buffet and other men of great wealth have met up with some average Joes on the street.
c. Sometimes a big fish and a little fish meet together in a business transaction.
3. One might think that the two men have almost nothing in common. They seem to live in two different worlds. They would cross each other’s path very rarely.
The Third Character: The LORD
A. The LORD
1. LORD: Jehovah; Yahweh.
2. When the rich and poor meet together, the LORD sees it all. He observes all that transpires. He takes note of all transactions between the two. Nothing escapes His notice.
3. There are two other proverbs in which these two characters are mentioned—as well as the LORD.
a. Prov. 14:31 – “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker.”
b. Prov. 17:5 – “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.”
4. The book of Proverbs makes it clear that the LORD is aware, observing, and keeping track of the way the godly poor are treated by oppressive rich men.
a. This is what they both have in common: God is observing their every thought, word, deed, and motive of heart.
b. If they meet together for a business transaction: God sees.
c. Prov. 15:3 – “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”
B. Lighteneth Both Their Eyes
1. LIGHTENETH: Gives light to; illuminates; makes to shine; to light a lamp; etc.
2. But in this passage, Solomon is not talking about the sun shining and illuminating; nor is he talking about lighting a lamp.
3. He is speaking about God giving light to the physical eyes of two men: the poor and the deceitful oppressor.
a. In other words, they can SEE each other. This is the thought that Solomon wants his readers to meditate upon.
b. God enables both men to SEE. Their physical capacity to see is from the same Lord. This also is what they have in common.
c. When God gives the capacity to see, He expects that we open our eyes and see. “He that hath ears to hear… or eyes to see” should use that capacity.
4. You might say, “Well, of course they can see each other. They are not blind.”
a. But the question is, what do they SEE when they look into each other’s eyes?
b. This is the point of the proverb.
c. Solomon wants us to think about what they see.
5. What the poor man sees when he looks into the eyes of his oppressor:
a. He probably sees an arrogant man—full of pride.
b. He sees cruelty in his eyes as well.
c. He sees a man with a hollow soul… no heart… no compassion.
d. He sees a man who is also quite guilty before God.
e. He probably sees a man, who because of a guilty conscience, is not able to look him directly in the eyes… a man who pretends that he doesn’t see the poor and their poverty… their struggles and tribulations.
f. The poor man may see in the eyes of the rich oppressor, one who is spiritually blind… careless about spiritual things… with no heart for God.
g. He sees a man who is Hell bound… and cares nothing about it.
h. He sees a man who has many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition… a man who has pierced himself through with many sorrows.
i. He sees a pitiful man—a miserable man—a man to be pitied, not envied.
6. What the rich usurer sees when he looks into the eyes of the poor oppressed man:
a. The rich man sees in him just the opposite. He sees a poor man who doesn’t have much, but is content with what he has.
b. He sees a poor man whose heart isn’t pierced through with many sorrows over money.
c. He sees a man who is able to sleep at night because his conscience is clean. This man “lies down, and is not afraid: yea, he lies down, and his sleep is sweet.” (Prov. 3:24)
d. The rich man looks into the eyes of a poor man and sees a man who has had a hard life of manual labor… and perhaps the rich man sees in his eyes the result of his own oppression and usury.
e. He looks into the eye of the poor man, and sees, in spite of the difficult life he has had, he sees a man at peace with himself and his God. He sees a man who has been oppressed but is not defeated.
f. He may even see a brightness and twinkle in his eye that speaks of a happy man.
g. The rich man may even experience a passing moment of envy as he looks upon the poor man.
7. It was the LORD who enables each one to see what he sees in the eyes of the other.
a. God gave the poor man eyes to see. The poor man is not stupid. He knows that he is being oppressed. And the poor man can see the effect of that oppression in the eyes of his oppressor… a man tormented by guilt.
b. God gave the rich man eyes to see too. The rich man is able to see something in the eyes of the poor that he wishes he had – peace, rest, contentment.
8. An alternate view: Some understand in the expression, “the Lord lighteneth both their eyes” to mean that God gives His light and life to all – rich and poor; oppressed and the oppressor.
a. The point: therefore, the oppressor should show respect to the poor; and the poor should not be resentful towards the rich.
b. Before the bar of God, both men are equal.
c. Regardless of their station in life, God is the Maker of them all.
d. As such, it would be similar in meaning to Matt. 5:45 – “your Father which is in heaven: he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
e. Prov. 22:2 – “The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.”
f. The two views are actually very close in meaning: the rich and the poor meet together—and they both have the LORD in common. God is the Source of life for all. They both will stand before Him and will give an account to Him one day.