Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Enough for Everyone 02

Money and the Bible 02: Poetry Books

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Although Job was extremely wealthy, he was a righteous man. To demonstrate his righteousness, he speaks about his actions toward the poor. The actual righteousness of Job is a separate theological question, but when Job tries to argue or appeal his righteousness, he consistently speaks of his actions toward the poor and oppressed.

Job 29:11-17, Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow's heart sing. I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.

Job 30:25, Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?

Job 31:16-40, "If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless- but from my youth I reared him as would a father, and from my birth I guided the widow- if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment, and his heart did not bless me for warming him with the fleece from my sheep, if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things. "If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, 'You are my security,' if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high. "If I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him- I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against his life- if the men of my household have never said, 'Who has not had his fill of Job's meat?'- but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler- if I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my guilt in my heart because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside ("Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. I would give him an account of my every step; like a prince I would approach him.)-"if my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants, then let briers come up instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley." The words of Job are ended.

The Songbook of the Hebrew Scriptures talks a lot about poverty and wealth. There are two principles that appear to be in tension with each other. On the one hand, God richly supports and blesses his own people. On the other hand, he is attracted to the poor and needy. These two principles, when separated can lead us to think that God wants everyone to be rich, or that he wants everyone to be poor. Truthfully, God wants everyone to have enough. We ought not to be satisfied with our own money if others still lack basic needs.

Psalm 9:9, The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalm 9:18, For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

Psalm 10:16-18, The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalm 12:5, Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will arise, says the LORD; I will place him in the safety for which he longs.

Psalm 13:5, You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge.

Psalm 35:10, 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 40:17, As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

Psalm 68:5-6, Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

Psalm 69:33, For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

Psalm 72:4, May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to eth children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!

Psalm 72:12-14, For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.

Psalm 103:6, The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

Psalm 112:1-5, Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.

Psalm 112:9-10, He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish!

Psalm 113:5-9, 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 form the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 128:1-4, Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD.

Psalm 140:12, I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.

The proverbs talk a great deal about money, wealth and poverty. I’ll group them into categories.

Wealth is a good thing

Proverbs 10:22, The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.

Proverbs 14:24, The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly.

Proverbs 15:6, The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings them trouble.

Money comes to the righteous and hard-working person

Proverbs 6:10-11, A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 10:3-4, The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

Proverbs 13:4, The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

Proverbs 13:25, The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but eh stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

Proverbs 15:19, The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but he path of the upright is a highway.

Proverbs 16:26, The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.

Proverbs 19:15, Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry.

Proverbs 21:17, He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

Proverbs 21:25-26, The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.

Proverbs 22:4, Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.

Proverbs 22:29, do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.

Proverbs 28:19, He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.

Poverty comes from injustice and oppression

Proverbs 13:23, A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away.

Proverbs 22:16, He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich – both come to poverty.

Proverbs 28:3, A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.

Wealth is not a good ultimate goal

Proverbs 3:13-15, Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.

Proverbs 8:19, My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.

Proverbs 11:4, Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 15:16-17, Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

Proverbs 16:8, Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.

Proverbs 16:16, How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!

Proverbs 17:1, Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Proverbs 23:1-8, When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive. Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Do not eat the food of a stingy man; do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.

Proverbs 30:8b-9, Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

Money should be earned honestly

Proverbs 10:2, Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 11:1, The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.

Proverbs 13:11, Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

Proverbs 15:27, A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.

Proverbs 16:11, Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making.

Proverbs 17:23, A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice.

Proverbs 18:16, A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.

Proverbs 20:17, Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

Proverbs 20:21, An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.

Proverbs 20:23, The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.

Proverbs 21:6, A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.

Proverbs 28:20-22, A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eater to get rich will not go unpunished. To show partiality is not good – yet a man will do wrong for a piece of bread. A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him.

Proverbs 28:25, A greedy man stirs up dissension, bu the who trusts in the LORD will prosper.

Proverbs 28:27, He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

Proverbs 29:4, By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.

Money should be managed wisely

Proverbs 11:15, He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.

Proverbs 17:18, A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor.

Proverbs 21:20, In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.

Proverbs 23:20-21, Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Proverbs 27:23-27, Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field. You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed you and your family and to nourish your servant girls.

Money should be given away to help those in need

Proverbs3:9-10, Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Proverbs 3:27-28, Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow” – when you now have it with you.

Proverbs 11:24-25, One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes other will himself be refreshed.

Proverbs 14:21, He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

Proverbs 14:31, He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 19:17, He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Proverbs 21:13, If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 22:9, A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

Proverbs 28:27, He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

Proverbs 29:7, The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditures on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our won, we are probably giving away too little.” C. S. Lewis, Mere Chrsitianity, iii.3 (81-82).

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