He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker: but he that honors him has mercy on the poor.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Reproacheth his Maker.—For having placed him in such a lowly condition. The equality of all men, as being all of them the work of God, is taught by Genesis 1:27; Job 31:15; Proverbs 22:2. The duty of aiding the poor is in Matthew 25:40 based on the still higher ground of the union of Christ with His people, which makes Him regard good done to them as done to Himself.
But he that honoureth him . . .—This would be better rendered, but he that hath mercy on the poor honoureth Him.Proverbs 14:31. He that oppresseth the poor — That uses the poor man hardly, as the Syriac renders it: that withholdeth from him that which is his due, either by the rules of strict justice, or by the great law of charity, of which see Proverbs 3:27; reproacheth his Maker — Whose image the poor man bears, by whose counsel and providence he is made poor, and who hath declared himself to be the protector and avenger of the poor; but he that honoureth him — That honoureth God’s image, and works, and laws; hath mercy on the poor — Does not only forbear oppressing or injuring the poor man, but affords him his pity and help.He that oppresseth the poor; that useth him hardly, as the Syriac renders it; that withholdeth from him that which is his due, either by the rules of strict justice, or by the great law of charity, of which see Proverbs 3:27, and so it is opposed to having mercy in the next clause.
Reproacheth his Maker; whose image the poor man bears, which might challenge respect, Job 31:15; by whose counsel and providence he is made poor, 1 Samuel 2:7 Proverbs 22:2, and who hath declared himself to be their protector and avenger.
He that honoureth him, his image, and works, and laws,
hath mercy on the poor; doth not only forbear oppressing or injuring of him, but affords him his pity and help. Proverbs 22:2;
but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor; he that is desirous of honouring God, and glorifying him, will give of his substance to the poor; having compassion on him in his necessitous circumstances, will relieve him; and in so doing he honours God, whose image the poor man bears, and who has commanded him so to do. The words may be rendered, "he that hath mercy on the poor honoureth him"; that is, his Maker: so the Targum,He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)31. he that honoureth &c.] Rather, he that hath mercy on the needy honoureth him, R.V. Comp. Proverbs 17:5; Matthew 25:40.Verse 31. - He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker, even God. who hath placed men in their several conditions (Proverbs 17:5; Proverbs 22:2). "The poor shall never cease out of the land" (Deuteronomy 15:11); "The poor ye have always with you," said Christ (Matthew 26:11); therefore to harass and oppress the poor because he is in this lowly condition, is virtually to arraign the providence of God, who is the Father of all, and has made all men brothers, however differing in worldly position. Christ puts the duty of aiding the poor on the high ground of his solidarity with his people (Matthew 25:40, 45), how that in ministering unto the least of these his brethren men are ministering unto him. "Prosperity and adversity, life and death, poverty and riches, come of the Lord" (Ecclus. 11:14). Even the heathen could say -
Ἀεὶ νομίζονθ οἱ πένητες τῶν Θεῶν.
Deem ever that the poor are God's own gift." Septuagint, "He that calumniates (συκοφανῶν; calumniatur, Vulgate) the poor angers him who made him." This version refers to oppression of the poor by means of calumny or false and frivolous accusation. But he that honoureth him - the Lord - hath mercy on the poor; or, better, he that hath mercy upon the poor honoureth him; for he shows that he has proper regard to God's ordinance, acts on high motives, and is not led astray by worldly considerations. Christ himself has consecrated poverty by coming in low estate (2 Corinthians 8:9), and they who love and honour him are glad to minister to his brethren in their poverty and distress (comp. James 1:27).
But he who breathes out lies is nothing but deception.
When men, in consequence of false suspicions or of false accusations, fall into danger of their lives (דיני נפשׁות is the designation in the later language of the law of a criminal process), then a tongue which, pressed by conscientiousness and not deterred by cowardice, will utter the truth, saves them. But a false tongue, which as such (vid., Proverbs 14:5) is a יפח כזבים (after the Masora at this place ויפח, defective), i.e., is one who breathes out lies (vid., regarding יפיח at Proverbs 6:19), is mere deception (lxx, without reading מרמּה [as Hitzig does]: δόλιος). In Proverbs 12:17 מרמה is to be interpreted as the object. accus. of יגיד carried forward, but here to carry forward מצּיל (Arama, Lwenstein) is impracticable - for to deliver deceit equals the deceiver is not expressed in the Hebr. - מרמה is, as possibly also Hebrews 12:16 (lxx δόλιος), without אישׁ or עד being supplied, the pred. of the substantival clause: such an one is deception (in bad Latin, dolositas), for he who utters forth lies against better knowledge must have a malevolent, deceitful purpose.
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