Proverbs 14:21
He that despises his neighbor sins: but he that has mercy on the poor, happy is he.
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Proverbs 14:21. He that despiseth his neighbour — That doth not pity and relieve the poor, as this is explained in the next clause; sinneth — And therefore shall be punished for his inhumanity, which is opposed to his being happy, in the next branch; but he that hath mercy on the poor — That shows his compassion for them by his bounty to them; happy is he — He doth a worthy action, and shall be blessed in his deed.14:18. Sin is the shame of sinners; but wisdom is the honour of the wise. 19. Even bad men acknowledge the excellency of God's people. 20. Friendship in the world is governed by self-interest. It is good to have God our Friend; he will not desert us. 21. To despise a man for his employment or appearance is a sin. 22. How wisely those consult their own interest, who not only do good, but devise it! 23. Labour of the head, or of the hand, will turn to some good account. But if men's religion runs all out in talk and noise, they will come to nothing. 24. The riches of men of wisdom and piety enlarge their usefulness. 25. An upright man will venture the displeasure of the greatest, to bring truth to light. 26,27. Those who fear the Lord so as to obey and serve him, have a strong ground of confidence, and will be preserved. Let us seek to this Fountain of life, that we may escape the snares of death. 28. Let all that wish well to the kingdom of Christ, do what they can, that many may be added to his church. 29. A mild, patient man is one that learns of Christ, who is Wisdom itself. Unbridled passion is folly made known. 30. An upright, contented, and benevolent mind, tends to health. 31. To oppress the poor is to reproach our Creator. 32. The wicked man has his soul forced from him; he dies in his sins, under the guilt and power of them. But godly men, though they have pain and some dread of death, have the blessed hope, which God, who cannot lie, has given them. 33. Wisdom possesses the heart, and thus regulates the affections and tempers. 34. Piety and holiness always promote industry, sobriety, and honesty. 35. The great King who reigns over heaven and earth, will reward faithful servants who honour his gospel by the proper discharge of the duties of their stations: he despises not the services of the lowest.The maxim, jarring as it is, represents the generalization of a wide experience; but the words which follow Proverbs 14:21 show that it is not to be taken by itself. In spite of all the selfish morality of mere prudence, the hearer is warned that to despise his "neighbor" (Christians must take the word in all the width given to it by the parable of the Good Samaritan) is to sin. The fullness of blessing comes on him who sees in the poor the objects of his mercy. 21. For such contempt of the poor is contrasted as sinful with the virtuous compassion of the good. That despiseth his neighbour; that doth not pity and relieve the poor, as this is explained in the next clause; the word neighbour being here generally taken for any man, as it is most commonly used in Scripture; which not relieving him proceeds from a contempt of his person.

Sinneth; and therefore shall be punished for his inhumanity, which is opposed to his being happy in the next clause.

That hath mercy; that showeth his compassion by his bounty and relief.

Happy is he; he doth a worthy action, and shall be blessed in his deed. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth,.... He that despiseth his neighbour in his heart, speaks slightly of him, overlooks him, is not friendly to him, will neither converse with him, nor relieve him in his necessity; for it seems to be understood of his poor neighbour; and so the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "he that despiseth the poor"; that despises him for his poverty; because of his pedigree and education, and the low circumstances he is in; or on account of his weakness and incapacity, or any outward circumstance that attends him; such an one sins very greatly, is guilty of a heinous sin; and he will be reckoned and dealt with as a sinner, and be condemned and punished, and so be unhappy and miserable;

but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he; or,

"that gives to the poor,''

as the Targum; who has compassion on him in his distress, and shows it by relieving him: he that shows favour to the meek and humble ones, as the word (s) may be rendered, and as they generally are that are in affliction and poverty, for these tend to humble men; and such who regard them in their low estate are "happy" or blessed; they are blessed in things temporal and spiritual, and both here and hereafter; see Psalm 41:1.

(s) "modestorum", Montanus, Mercerus; "mansuetos", Cocceius.

He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
Verse 21. - He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth. Taken in connection with the preceding verse, this teaches that it is a sin to despise and shun a man because he is poor or of low estate; such a one has a claim for love and pity, and it is a crime to withhold them from him for selfish considerations. The Christian view is taught by the parable of the good Samaritan. But he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he; hail to him! (Proverbs 16:20). Contempt is contrasted with mercy, sin with blessing. "Blessed are the merciful," said Christ (Matthew 5:7): "for they shall obtain mercy;" and St. Paul preserves another precious word, "It is mere blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). The merciful disposition, which shows itself in works of mercy, is a proof that the soul is in union with God, whose mercy is over all his works, whose mercy endureth forever, and therefore such a soul is blessed. "The poor," wrote James Howell, "are God's receivers, and the angels are his auditors" ('Five Hundred New Sayings'). The Vulgate here appends a line absent from the Hebrew and the ether versions, "He who believeth in the Lord loveth mercy." The true believer is charitable and bountiful, knowing that he will not hereby impoverish himself, but lay up a rich store of blessing; he acts thus not from mere philanthropy, but from higher motives: he has the grace of charity which springs from and rests upon his faith in God. 15 The simple believeth every word;

     But the prudent takes heed to his step.

We do not translate, "every thing," for "word" and faith are correlates, Psalm 106:24, and פּתי is the non-self-dependent who lets himself be easily persuaded by the talk of another: he believes every word without proving it, whether it is well-meant, whether it is true, whether it is salutary and useful, so that he is thus, without having any firm principle, and without any judgment of his own, driven about hither and thither; the prudent, on the other hand, considers and marks his step, that he may not take a false step or go astray, he proves his way (8a), he takes no step without thought and consideration (בּין or הבין with ל, to consider or reflect upon anything, Psalm 73:17, cf. Psalm 33:15) - he makes sure steps with his feet (Hebrews 12:13), without permitting himself to waver and sway by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14).

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