One major theme repeated throughout the Bible is God’s cares for the poor. Our Lord clearly wants His people to look out for the economically impoverished. As a consequence, these individuals merit special attention from His followers.
Recently reading Love Your Neighbor by Kathryn Feliciano, a booklet newly published by the Institute for Faith Work & Economics (IFWE), served as a fresh reminder of this for me. “There are thousands of verses in the Bible about our response and responsibility to the poor,” Feliciano writes. “They remind us of our call to love our neighbors as ourselves and serve the least of these with mercy and justice.”
Love Your Neighbor, which I reviewed here, covers both overarching strategies and practical steps for Christians called to combat poverty. I highly recommend it for those interested in delving into the complex task of ministering to the poor.
But on an even more basic level, the booklet prompted me to open my Bible and review what God has to say about the poor. Such references occur extensively throughout the Scriptures. Some of the most striking come from Psalms and Proverbs. These two books contain wise insights into God’s desire to rescue to poor and award them justice. They also provide direct instructions to readers about how to treat the poor.
Based on my reading, I decided to compile a list of fifteen passages from Psalms and Proverbs which I found particularly powerful. I hope you too find these verses enlightening, convicting, and inspirational!*
“Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him; the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.” Psalm 41:1-2
“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.” Proverbs 19:17
“Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.” Proverbs 28:7
“For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.” Psalm 9:18
“Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:19
“The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the Maker of them all.” Proverbs 22:2
“All my bones shall say, ‘O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?'” Psalm 35:10
“‘Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,’ says the LORD; ‘I will place him in the safety for which he longs.'” Psalm 12:5
“Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.” Psalm 113:5-8
“A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.” Proverbs 29:7
“Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” Proverbs 22:16
“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 22:22-23
“The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.” Psalm 37:14-15
“Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.” Proverbs 14:21
“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13
“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9
*(Note: All quotations are from the ESV.)