A word about proverbs. Every culture has them, and they tend to be similar through the ages. They are intended to be adages to live by, helpful guides for the young and those needing guidance.
Are they true? Yes and no. Take two modern proverbs: “he who hesitates is lost,” and “look before you leap.” They seem to contradict each other, but both are true(ish). There are times when each is true, and only the wise can tell which is true in each case. That is probably why King Solomon gets credit for writing these 31 chapters.
Today’s reading picks six verses from the chapter that have a common theme. That is one of the difficulties; the proverbs seem to be willy-nilly in their listing. Yet, there are often connections that don’t leap out on the first reading.
The first two verses assure us that earning a good name—by doing what is right—is always the path to Godliness. Then, verse 3 is a caution that follows this theme, as do verses 4, 5, and 6. Verse 7 sets up our next two verses.
Being rich or borrowing money is not the issue. Whoever sows injustice, NIV is the issue. Consistently, the Bible condemns the rich who misuse their wealth. God does not condemn people for loaning money. If I am rich and I loan money to someone, I must treat it as a gift; if he can pay it back, great.
Now that I’ve made myself a rich man, should I charge interest? That becomes another case of knowing when it is right and when it is wrong. It may be necessary to charge one or two percent to encourage the borrower to pay on time. If I make it seem like free money, I may be asking for trouble.
That brings us back to justice. Remember verse 1: Rather than wealth, choose a good reputation. CJB Any loan may be lost, no matter how careful the loaner is. If a person with a great reputation asks me for a loan, I am more likely to provide it interest-free. Is that justice? Sure, I’m rich; I don’t need more money. He who is generous is blessed. CJB
Justice is about doing what is right for other people, especially those who have so little. Having taken ten STMT’s—short-term missionary trips—to Haiti, I have some sense of poverty in that beleaguered country. My understanding is still too limited to know the best solution, but I know I can’t just ignore their suffering.
In addition to my personal visits, I spent several years reading for a master’s degree on the topic of how best to eliminate world poverty. That was in the early seventies, and I now know most of what I read and believed was wrong.
Verses 22-23 are right. Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor, and don’t use your position to crush the weak, because God will come to their defense; the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them. MSG
There are over 300 private aid organizations operating in Haiti. Few of them cooperate with one another. Too many duplicate what others are already doing. Too many spend most of their efforts on fundraising in the States without spending it on those most in need. The most effective are those who people who live and work with the poor because they know who has a need and who only pretends. Many agencies have nice offices in Port-au-Prince and rent a nice house or live in one of the American run hotels. They make quick excursions to poverty hot spots, taking their cameramen along for the publicity photos.
God will come to their defense.
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.