ODJ: devouring the poor

July 24, 2015 

READ: Proverbs 30:7-14 

Give me just enough to satisfy my needs (v.8).

In great cities,” noted Nathaniel Hawthorne, “it is unfortunately the case, that the poor are compelled to be the neighbours and fellow-lodgers of the vicious.” Hawthorne was writing about the slums of early 19th century London, but his observation is timeless. Those among us who lack money tend to congregate in neighbourhoods marred by crime and human exploitation.

It seems a harsh rule of life that the evil and manipulative prey upon the disadvantaged and naive. It seems even harsher that the strong oppress the weak.

A mysterious ancient sage known only as Agur wrote about such predators: “They have teeth like swords and fangs like knives. They devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humanity” (Proverbs 30:14).

A particularly uncomfortable truth is that the poor as well as the predators come from the ranks of us! Agur surely sensed this hard reality. Perhaps that’s why he preceded his observation about human oppression with a candid admission of his own struggle for balance. He prayed, “Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name” (vv.8-9).

—Tim Gustafson

365-day-plan: Matthew 17:24–18:6

Read Matthew 5:38-48 from the Sermon on the Mount. 
How have you been reflecting God’s heart for the poor and needy? What are three ways you can help make your neighbourhood a better place?