Some thoughts on poverty from Proverbs

Proverbs has a lot to say about wealth and poverty. This is not an exhaustive list, but it has some very interesting things to say about wealth and poverty. One specific takeaway is that Proverbs does recognize that injustice and oppression do cause poverty, but the scriptures are also very clear that there are many causes of poverty which are specifically related to an individual’s sin and poor choices. Another takeaway is that generosity and compassion toward the poor are regarded as marks of godly character, and are things that God rewards. A final takeaway is that the means by which wealth is gained could be described as generosity, diligence, humility, hard work, and living within your means; whereas the path to poverty could be described as adultery, drunkenness, laziness, and the pursuit of get-rich-quick schemes.

What are some causes of poverty?

Adultery and paying for prostitutes – Proverbs 5:9-11, Proverbs 6:26

Laziness – Proverbs 6:10-12, Proverbs 20:13, Proverbs 24:34

Negligence – Proverbs 10:4

Pursuing easy money or quick wealth – Proverbs 13:11, Proverbs 21:5

Lack of discipline – 13:18

Injustice – Proverbs 13:23

Empty talk, or talking rather than working– 14:23

Love of pleasure, alcohol, and good food – 21:17

Debt – 22:7

Oppressing the poor, or giving to the rich as a means to gain wealth – 22:16

Heavy drinking and gluttony – 23:21

“Empty pursuits” instead of work – 28:19

What are some cures of poverty?

Honoring God with your wealth/giving – Proverbs 3:9-10

Wisdom – Proverbs 8:21

Diligence – Proverbs 10:4, Proverbs 21:5

Living within your means – Proverbs 12:9, Proverbs 13:7

Work/labor – Proverbs 13:11, 14:23

How should I treat the poor?

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor – Proverbs 14:21

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. – Proverbs 14:31

Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished. – Proverbs 17:5

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. – Proverbs 19:17

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. – Proverbs 21:13

The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the Maker of them all. – Proverbs 22:2

Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor. – Proverbs 22:9

Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate,for the Lord will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them. – Proverbs 22:22

Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. – Proverbs 28:27

A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge. – Proverbs 29:7

If a king faithfully judges the poor, his throne will be established forever. – Proverbs 29:14

(The excellent wife) She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. – Proverbs 31:20

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