Today I want to step away from Israel’s history and the starkly different first two kings of Israel, Saul and David. Though we have been reading the Proverbs for some time, one set of proverbs allows me to show in part how to read this book. Proverbs are sayings of wisdom that will reflect how the wise understand the world to generally work. These proverbs are meant to help us live with care. Proverbs 14:20-21 tells us, “The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.” The first proverb tells us the truth about how people relate to the poor and rich. If we stopped at verse 20, we would only have wisdom about how the world is. Verse 21 takes us a step further and helps us see what God thinks of the common partiality to the rich and the neglect of the poor. God views such partiality, especially disdain of the poor, as sinful. Additionally, God honors those who care for the poor.
There is a way the world works, and there is a way God works. The wise person understands both God and their world. Our world is still characterized by disdain towards the week and needy, but God honors those who live differently towards the marginalized. May we walk with wisdom towards our neighbors in the days ahead.