Proverbs 22:22-29

Proverbs 22:22‑29  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THE apothegms before us have all a prohibitory character save the last which is a positive example to be followed and honored.
“Rob not the poor, because he [is] poor, neither oppress the afflicted in the gate; for Jehovah will plead their cause, and despoil the soul of those that despoil them.
Make no friendship with an angry man, and go not with a furious man; lest thou learn his paths, and get a snare to thy soul.
Be not of those that strike hands, of those that are sureties for debts; if thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set.
Hast thou seen a man diligent in his work? He shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before the obscure” (vers. 22-29).
It may seem singular to say, “Rob not the poor,” and in particular “because he is poor”; but it is a warning especially: so base, selfish, and cruel is human nature as now. The rich who might appear the more inviting prey to the unscrupulous are able to take care of themselves in ways that the poor would or could not essay. Hence bad men flatter the rich for gain, whilst they also rob or oppress those who ought to be objects of pity. But Jehovah has His eye on such villainy, at the very gate whence justice should flow, pleads the cause of the poor and the afflicted, and repays heavily those who despoil them.
With one given to anger it is hard to keep friends, and unsafe to make a friend; and to go with a furious soul is to run the risk of learning his ways, and thus to get a snare instead of a deterrent. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath, says the apostle; not to hear him in this is to give place to the devil. Even if we have grave reason, the only right Christian feeling is to forgive; and if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses. You who are so slow to forget your wrongs, perhaps imaginary, do you believe Christ's words?
If one realized the duty of having to pay, in any bargain that is made, or suretyship which one agrees to, there would be a serious consideration whether God approves and leads the way. But as drowning men catch at a straw for life, so the imprudent lose their own means, and then seek to draw to their help their trusting friends, even if these have little or nothing to spare. It is a trifle, say they or a mere form without risk; for it is sure to answer. The sanguine and the improvident thus ensnare others into their own ruin. How homely and pungent the hint! If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away the bed from under thee?
Another dishonesty is then held up to censure, in which men are apt to cheat craftily rather than with open violence. The ancient landmark set by thy fathers is to be kept contentedly, and without allowing a covetous desire.
Lastly, it is well to regard a man diligent in his work in a world where so many begrudge their time, care, and labor. No wonder that one who does his business with conscience, despatch, and skill makes himself at length an object for the king's honor if not need, leaving behind the obscure with whose company he began. Those who rule value industrial integrity.