If a king judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever. Proverbs 29:14
Just recently we finished an election cycle in the United States. The pattern for many years now has been that the candidate with the most money usually wins the election. Thus, for an American leader, the addage is that whoever can court the most wealthy people and gather the most money will rule over the land. It is not so much how one will rule - or what they plan to do in this country - as it is how many of the wealthy come to their $5000 a plate each fundraisers. One must keep the wealthy happy - or else you will no longer have the money to win an election.
Things were not always like this - in fact, today's proverb gives wise guidance to the leader or king who will hear it. That advice is not based upon men making you or keeping you as their leader. It is insted about caring for things like compassion toward the poor and truth. These are things that have long been trampled under the foot of American political process and theory. Yet God still considers them very important in a leader.
The king is to judge the poor with truth. That is his responsibility. It is an easy thing to forget - especially when the poor do not have the means to protest or challenge an unfair ruling in the courts. It is even more difficult when the one you rule against is rich. The wealthy don't appreciate truth in those situations. But a ruler may not face a challenge greater than maintaining truth when it comes to disputes between the wealthy and the poor. God's wisdom is to judge with truth - then it will not matter what a man's position in life is. Only one thing matters - and that is that truth is upheld.
The promise of God is equally as clear. When you judge the poor with truth - your throne will be established forever. God rewards the king who qppreciates truth and justice more than power and position. The people of that nation will greatly appreciate their king, and will joyfully support him. It is hard to overthrow a king who acts this way because he is very popular among the people.
There was a king in Israel named Ahab who decided that he wanted a piece of land next to his palace. The land was owned by a man who took great pride in his families' inheritance. Though the king offered to purchase the land, the man refused because he desired to keep the land in his family. At this point the king pouted like a two year old because he did not get his way. Others acted on his behalf and got him the land - although it meant departing from the truth and judging unrighteously. So aggregious was this situation that they chose to have the man killed in a false court proceeding. When the king was informed that the dirty deed was done, he went to claim his new garden next to his palace. He was met by the prophet Elijah whom God informed of the entire sordid affair. What was going to be a time of rejoicing over his new land - turned into a horror story. The prophet informed the king that God was going to judge him and his wife for their wickedness - and their unwillingness to treat the poor with truth and justice. Jezebel, the queen, would be eaten by dogs - and the king and all his entire family would be killed and not allowed to rule Israel any longer. This is what happened when the king decided to oppress and abuse the poor. He, his kingdom, and even his legacy were destroyed.
Leaders can get cocky and decide that they are beyond the reach of justice and truth. Nothing could be further from the truth. God will eventually bring even kings and rulers under his bar of justice. Therefore it is good for kings to know that one of the measures of the fitness of their kingdoms is how they treat the poor. Do that with justice and your kingdom will endure. Cast justice to the curb - and you might just find yourself sitting next to those who have previously robbed of justice.
Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor, But it is swept away by injustice. Proverbs 13:23
God is concerned about the poor - and about justice concerning them. What is interesting about this passage is that the major concern that God has is about freeing the poor to make the most of their lives by hard work. Unfortunately in our day too many think that the best way to care for the poor is for the government to take care of them by instituting programs that foster what is called social justice. This kind of justice involves the government using a taxing power to redistribute wealth so that fairness is reached as far as "outcomes" are concerned. What we see here is that God is more interested in the poor having fairness in regard to opportunity rather than outcomes.
God is the God of justice and He is very concerned about the injustices that are perpetrated against the poor. In the Old Testament He makes it very clear through the prophets that one of the reason judgment falls on societies is because they no longer have compassion for the poor. But, social justice is NOT a compassionate response toward the poor. It is rather an example of government trying to bring about justice by promising equal outcomes for all. This is done whether or not the person receiving the promised outcome is deserving of it or not. Whether we like it or not there is some poverty that is the direct result of choices made by the one who is in poverty. There is also poverty that is the result of people not being willing to work. The Bible is clear that if a man is not willing to work, he is not to eat. Then Proverbs tells us that when he is hungry enough - that will motivate him to work. The poverty of the prodigal son was due to his own ungodly living and ungodly choices. When a man wastes his money on drunkenness and riotous living, he should not prosper in life. To promise him the same outcome as the hard working man is not social justice. It is social injustice!
God makes promises to those who work hard and who live wisely. He also makes promises to those who choose ungodly paths - speaking of poverty and want that will come to them. We cannot try to stay His hand in these matters without eventually bringing the entire government under His discipline. That is what we are experiencing today. The government has decided to work for common outcomes for all in a perverted sense of what is just. But this is unjust - to confiscate the wealth of those who have worked hard for what they have - and to redistribute it to those who in many cases have not worked hard for it. When someone gives to the poor freely it is a gift. But when a government gives to the poor by confiscating the wealth and gain of the productive - it is thievery by taxation.
God says here that abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor. That means that the poor could till the ground and make a crop that would lift them out of their poverty. The abundant food does not produce itself - it is given when the poor have the freedom to till their ground and bring it forth. What is being restricted here is the freedom of these who have been reduced to poverty. When this happens, there is poverty abounding. But where there is freedom instead of injustice, the poor man is able to work hard and over time lift himself out of poverty. Where the government works to provide a level playing field for all to prosper equally from hard work - there will be a blessing on that society. The government also has a responsibility to make sure that in doing this the rich do not use their money to keep the poor from succeeding. This happens as well in the world - and it is the responsiblity of the rulers of a nation to make sure that they are not unduly influenced by money to decide for the rich in disputes. They are to make just decisions and not allow the rich to abuse the law to keep the poor in their poverty.
God desires justice and freedom to prevail in the affairs of men. He desires for these things to free men to be able to work hard and prosper from their labors. These things can be infringed upon in life, but not without cost. The cost is that the poor cannot achieve better things through hard work, saving, and investing in something that can give them more in their future. Whether this is done by the rich oppressing the poor - or a government oppressing all by taking from one class to give to another - God is not pleased. All men - and all governments will stand before God to give an account of their stewardship of the poor. May we be wise to free the poor to till the fallow ground of their farms and lives so that they may be lifted out of poverty, not by a government program, but by a work-ethic that encourages them to work hard, save, and build for a better future.