Is God against all lending that is done establishing a level of interest that is charged for the use of the money? Some would look at today's proverb and say yes. But before we decide to level wholesale accusations against the banking industry, let's take a closer look at what God is saying in this proverb.
God says that those who increase their wealth by interest and usury - will only gather it for the one who will be gracious to the poor. What are the principles here - and how do we deal with the wisdom of this in today's world?
First of all, God told Israel that they could not charge interest to their brethren (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36-37; Deut. 23:19). They could, however, charge interest to a foreigner (Deut. 23:20). The question that we need to ask is whether this was in regard to the poor among the people - or in all matters of commerce. The passages mentioned here refer to the poor. The Bible speaks very strongly to the fact that we need to be gracious to the poor. What God is prohibiting is the use of interest to keep the poor mired in their poverty. This was expressly forbidden. The people of Israel were to be kind to one another - especially the poor among them. Thus, what we have here is the prohibition of interest put on the poor in Israel.
If this were not the case, then we would ahve a huge problem in the New Testament in the parable of the talents. This is a story where God is represented as One who gives 10, 5, and 1 talent of money to three different servants. When the third tells him he hid his talent in the ground and is giving it back. The owner calls him a wicked slave - and says that he should have at least taken his money and given it to the bankers so that he woul have received his money back with interest. So what we see is that in regard to commerce interest can be charged for money lent for the purpose of doing business. But even in this regard God is definitely opposed to excessive interest being charged. This does not bode well for our friends at the credit card companies who charge 18-20% or those who give cash advances on people's paychecks at rates sometimes above 50% or more.
God's promise to those who do this is simple. God will eventually take their profits and redirect them to the poor - or at least to one who will lend to them in the way God desires. Know this before you decide to try to get rich with disreputable people. God sees all things - including every business that is getting rich on ungodly principles. Among these are those who get rich on the backs of the poor and disadvantaged. God will even things out one day - and often is doing it without us even realizing it. It is better to make a little less - or none at all - if our other option is to become rich in an ungodly fashion. This is especially true for those who want to bilk the poor out of their money by burying them in debt. Beware - because while burying them under a load of debt - you are burying yourself under a load of judgment.