For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command you, saying, You shall open your hand wide to your brother…
The meaning is that there will always be greater or less scope for the exercise of the virtues of kindness and liberality, - that it is vain to hope for a Utopian condition of society in which there shall be absolutely no poor.
I. THIS DOES NOT IMPLY:
1. That many existing causes of poverty cannot be permanently removed.
2. That every attempt ought not to be made to reduce poverty within its narrowest limits. The saying, "Ye have the poor always with you" (Matthew 26:11), is no utterance of fatalism. Much can be done to reduce poverty. With the growth of society, still more as a result of the spread of Christian principles, numbers of the causes of poverty now existing may be expected to disappear (idleness, intemperance, bad laws, merciless competition, class antagonisms, unfavorable sanitary conditions, etc.).
II. IT DOES IMPLY:
1. That under the most favorable conditions of existence on earth a residuum of poverty is still to be looked for.
(1) There are diversities of talents. There will always be those whose abilities only fit them for the humblest positions in society. And these may be left friendless, or health may fail them, or they may live to old age, and become dependent.
(2) There are vicissitudes of fortune. These come to the most fortunate of men, reducing them oftentimes to great straits. And it is too much to expect that, even under millennial conditions, the causes of such vicissitudes will altogether cease to operate.
2. That while poverty lasts, it is our duty to help to bear its burden. Poverty, in a state of society such as we anticipate as the goal of history, need never be the painful thing it is now. With loving hearts, and hands ready to help, its sting will be taken away. - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.