Sunday, October 9, 2011

Proverbs 31:8-9 Speak Up for the Needy

   The next two verses are rich enough in their own right, but they also are accompanied by a long list of references in the Schofield text.  In my opinion this stuff needs very little expounding, though each of us, depending on our stations and functions in this world, may learn to apply the directives uniquely.  First, the lines from Proverbs:

  "Open thy mouth for the dumb in the course of all 
such as are appointed to destruction.  
Open thy mouth, judge righteously, 
and plead the cause of the poor and needy."

These references follow:

"I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. 
I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out."
~Job 29:15,16

"And Johnathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, 
Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good."
~I Samuel 19:4

"Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment:  thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty:  but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour."
~Leviticus 19:15

"And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him."
~Deuteronomy 1:16

"Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him."
~Job 29:12

"Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow."
~Isaiah 1:17

"He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him:  was not this to know me?  saith the Lord."
~Jeremiah 22:16


   In what ways are you exposed to the poor and needy?  The widowed, the orphaned, the lonely?  How do you personally cross paths with those who cannot speak up for themselves or who are appointed to destruction?  Granted, these lines are perhaps directed in context to an actual ruler, a king, but if the popular scholar's interpretation of proverbs 31 is to be considered, then the Christian church is accountable for these behaviors too.  These instructions are certainly consistent with Christian teaching.

   Also, how are we doing in the judging righteously department?  Not so awesomely most times, I suspect.  We are all naturally shaped with unique filters, feelings, preferences, grudges, politics, indoctrination, just all kinds of multi-faceted, self-protective words that really mean, "personal opinion."  And personal opinion has a way of affecting how we treat others. Personal opinion also has a way of being wrong.  Ever been called to jury duty and felt, whether you expressed it or not, a strong bias, despite the evidence?  Ever catch yourself being cold to someone you don't know based on another person's opinion of him?  I have.  And worse.

   These events are common and natural human behavior, but if we read these words in the Bible then we hear a call to do better.  To strive for a life past what is natural and easy.  Stretch, not stagnate.

   I am reminded that every story has more than one side, very often more than two.  And I have been wrong a thousand times in my life, siding with the wrong person, standing on a moral I later discovered to be flawed or at least incomplete.  This is scary; it impresses on me the gravity of the job of judges who decide the fates of people daily.

   This brief study tonight has excavated in my heart more guilt and greater challenge than I expected.  I have a lot of work to do, but I believe that it can be turned around.  I believe that love and mercy are powerful, and I am hoping for second chances.  Checkout the above reference in Isaiah; the words learn and seek are loud to my eyes.

   Learn to do well.

   Seek judgment.

   These are active verbs, words that immediately acknowledge a position of lacking and then command work.  Ignorance and error can be overcome, so do it.  (I am bossing myself around, not you guys.)  I am thrilled by this idea, this encouragement.  
   That's all for tonight.  Oklahoma is finally receiving a much needed deluge of cold rain, and a big pot of homemade chicken and dumplings is almost ready on the stove.  Pain is ever present, and so are hope and joy.  Wishing everyone a peaceful end to the weekend. 




  1. This appears to be something we can all use, learn from, and strive toward. Perhaps this is comparatively trivial, but bear with me for a moment.

    I remember spending time with friends making fun of other people. I remember teasing people in school - in particular, I remember teasing two sisters in our 7th grade classes who dressed and looked differently. I was told they were Jehovah's Witnesses and though I had no idea what that meant, it somehow made it okay to make fun of them. And, oh, did we. In my defense, though, they didn't help matters by picking their noses and eating it.

    I continued in high school, finding people to make fun of. On into my 20s, etc. I remember going out with my girlfriends and making fun of people at the clubs for what they wore or how they danced or whatever else I could find to make fun of.

    Something in me snapped about 8 years ago and I stopped doing this. I was overcome with guilt about all the times I had done this and I started calling my friends out for doing this. Lost several "friends" that way too. Interesting, isn't it?

    Anyway, you made me think. Congratulations! :-)


  2. Wow, I'll spare you my story as it parallel's The M' half's story all to well. I just recently lost a friend whom I thought to be a GREAT friend over "opinions" and "quick judgments." I am really in love with the fact that you're picking apart Proverbs 31. There are so many people out there who take it literally word for word and can't process cross referencing verses from other chapters against the words in front of them. I like that you don't necessarily question the proverbs themselves, but actually dig deeper to find true meaning for YOU.


Hey thanks for commenting! I love hearing from people. It's the best. I have recently added word verification, a necessary annoyance. Have a wonderful day!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...