Word to the Wise (Part 10) – Proverbs 23:10-11


Proverbs 23:10-11 Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the field of the fatherless, for their redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you.

This saying echoes the fourth one found in Proverbs 22:28. But here the author broadens it to include not only moving a landmark, but also encroaching on the fields of the fatherless. The term “fatherless” is often translated “orphan”, referring to the defenseless.

Amos 2:6-8 is a blistering indictment against Israel for her pathological exploitation of the poor. It led to slavery, prostitution, and confiscation of goods like clothing and wine.

Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals— those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted; a man and his father go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.

God is not oblivious to cruelty. These desperate people have a Redeemer (it should be capitalized). In the Old Testament the redeemer was a person who could deliver you (think Boaz and Ruth). This Redeemer is God himself, the Almighty, provoked and ready to bring sovereign retribution on the oppressor.

He is strong. He is the one who stands in as an advocate and pleads their case before the Supreme Court of the universe. He prosecutes the oppressor before the sovereign Judge of the living and the dead.

Here’s the point: Don’t take advantage of the disabled, the immigrant (Deuteronomy 1:16), or the destitute. Wisdom is found in James 1:26-27.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

God says unequivocally that true Christianity includes helping the helpless, but religion without compassion is vacant and hollow.

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