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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 14:31

 

 

He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.

Adam Clarke Commentary

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker - Because the poor, or comparatively poor, are, in the order of God, a part of the inhabitants of the earth; and every man who loves God will show mercy to the poor, for with this God is peculiarly delighted. The poor have we ever with us, for the excitement and exercise of those benevolent, compassionate, and merciful feelings, without which men had been but little better than brutes.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-14.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Honoureth him - i. e., God, who is the Maker of poor and rich alike.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-14.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 14:31

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker.

Oppression of the poor a reproach to their Maker

Every man acting his part in his social capacity is “a spectacle.” Society is an organisation of rational creatures, acting together for some good. Society is a commonwealth of human nature in close connection with God. And so every man becomes his “brother’s keeper.”

I. Human nature, as involving a crime--“oppressing the poor.”

1. By political injustice. When they have no proper organ for expressing their wants, or have a voice in the representation of their country, or a free agency in all the enactments of their country.

2. By social neglect. When the state, as a body, allows vast masses of accumulating distress and ignorance and misery to grow up around it.

3. By mental debasement. Real, true, solid Christian education consists in three things--in giving the mind great truths, in imparting to the mind great motives, in the bestowment of great principles.

II. The consequence--the maker is reproached. The poor cannot but think ill of God, when society, which assumes to be His arrangement, presses so heavily upon them. (R. Montgomery, M.A.)

Godliness and humanity

Piety and philanthropy are essentially one. Wherever there is piety or godliness, there is philanthropy. Philanthropy is the offspring of all true religion. The text teaches--

I. That inhumanity is ungodliness. There is a great deal of inhumanity in the world, the poor have to endure a great deal of “oppression.” Superior force is exerted to exact their labours for the most inadequate remuneration, and thus to “grind their faces.” All this oppression of the poor is a reproach of God; he who does it “reproacheth his Maker.” He reproaches his Maker--

1. By disregarding that identity of nature with which our Maker has endowed all classes.

2. By disregarding those laws which our Maker has enjoined concerning the poor (Leviticus 25:35-36; Deuteronomy 15:11).

II. True humanity is godliness. “He that honoureth Him, hath mercy on the poor.” He that honoureth God, by loving Him supremely, and serving Him, will have mercy on the poor. There is, it is true, a fickle, sentimental, natural mercifulness for the poor, which has no connection with godliness, but this is not true humanity. True humanity is that which sympathises with man, as the offspring of God, the victim of moral evil, the child of immortality, and which consecrates itself in the Spirit of Christ to ameliorate his woes and redeem his soul, and this is godliness in its practical development (Isaiah 58:6-7). (Homilist.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 14:31". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-14.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker; But he that hath mercy on the needy honoreth him."

There are three classes of the poor: (1) those, who through lack of ability, have never been able to make a living, (2) those who were once affluent, but have been brought down by affliction, and (3) those who, though not actually in want, are able through diligent and constant toil to supply the barest necessities of life but do not know any of the luxuries of ease or wealth. "Oppression of any or all of these is an insult to God. To oppress class (1) is to increase the affliction of them whose condition is not their fault, any more than is the color of their skin; to oppress class (2) is to add to an affliction that God has permitted to fall upon them; and to oppress class (3) is to oppress those who make up the vast majority of God's kingdom."[35] The oppression of any poor man is an insult to God.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-14.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker,.... That does him any injury, either by scoffing at him, and reproaching him for his poverty; or by vexatious law suits; or by withholding from him his wages; or not giving him that relief which he ought: such an one not only injures the poor man; but reproaches God that made him, not only a man, but a poor man; and who is the Maker of the rich man also, Proverbs 22:2;

but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor; he that is desirous of honouring God, and glorifying him, will give of his substance to the poor; having compassion on him in his necessitous circumstances, will relieve him; and in so doing he honours God, whose image the poor man bears, and who has commanded him so to do. The words may be rendered, "he that hath mercy on the poor honoureth him"; that is, his Maker: so the Targum,

"he that hath mercy on him that suffers injury honoureth him.'


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-14.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

reproacheth his Maker — who is the God of such, as well as of the rich (Proverbs 22:2; Job 31:15; and specially 1 Samuel 2:8; Psalm 113:7).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-14.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

31 He who oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker;

And whosoever is merciful to the poor, it is an honour to him.

Line first is repeated in Proverbs 17:5 somewhat varied, and the relation of the idea in 31b is as Proverbs 19:17, according to which וּמכבּדו is the predicate and חונן אביון the subject (Symmachus, Targ., Jerome, Venet ., Luther), not the reverse (Syr.); חונן is thus not the 3 per. Po . (lxx), but the part . Kal (for which 21b has the part. Po . מחונן ). The predicates חרף עשׂהוּ ( vid ., regarding the perf. Gesen. §126, 3) and ומכבדו follow one another after the scheme of the Chiasmus . עשׁק has Munach on the first syllable, on which the tone is thrown back, and on the second the העמדה sign ( vid ., Torath Emeth , p. 21), as e.g. , פּוטר , Proverbs 17:14, and אהב , Proverbs 17:19. The showing of forbearance and kindness to the poor arising from a common relation to one Creator, and from respect towards a personality bearing the image of God, is a conception quite in the spirit of the Chokma , which, as in the Jahve religion it becomes the universal religion, so in the national law it becomes the human. Thus also Job 31:15, cf. Proverbs 3:9 of the Epistle of James, which in many respects has its roots in the Book of Proverbs. Matthew 25:40 is a New Testament side-piece to 31b.


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Bibliography
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-14.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

God is here pleased to interest himself more than one would imagine in the treatment given to the poor. 1. He reckons himself affronted in the injuries that are done them. Whosoever he be that wrongs a poor man, taking advantage against him because he is poor and cannot help himself, let him know that he puts an affront upon his Maker. God made him, and gave him his being, the same that is the author of our being; we have all one Father, one Maker; see how Job considered this, Job 31:15. God made him poor, and appointed him his lot, so that, if we deal hardly with any because they are poor, we reflect upon God as dealing hardly with them in laying them low, that they might be trampled upon. 2. He reckons himself honoured in the kindnesses that are done them; he takes them as done to himself, and will show himself accordingly pleased with them. I was hungry, and you gave me meat. Those therefore that have any true honour for God will show it by compassion to the poor, whom he has undertaken in a special manner to protect and patronise.


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Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-14.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

To oppress the poor is to reproach our Creator.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-14.html. 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

His maker — Whose image the poor man bears, by whose providence he is made poor, and who hath declared himself to be their protector and avenger.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-14.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 14:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

Ver. 31. He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker.] Since it is he that "maketh poor, and that maketh rich, and thereby killeth and maketh alive." [1 Samuel 2:6-7] Rich men only seem to be alive. Hence David, sending his servants to that Pamphagus, that rich curmudgeon, Nabal, speaketh on this sort, "Thus shall ye say to him that liveth" [1 Samuel 25:6] - there is no more in the original - as if rich men only were alive. Poor people are "free among the dead" [Psalms 88:5] - free of that company, as David was, when they are crushed and oppressed, especially by rich cormorants and cannibals. [Psalms 14:4] A poor man’s livelihood is his life, [Luke 8:43] for a poor man in his house is like a snail in his shell - crush that, and you kill him. This reflects very much upon God, the poor man’s king, as James IV of Scotland was called, who will not suffer it to pass unpunished, "for he is gracious." As unskilful hunters may shoot at a beast, but kill a man, so do these oppressors hit God, the poor man’s maker.

But he honoureth him that hath mercy on the poor.] Quibus verbis nihil gravius, nihil efficaciu dici potuit. God takes it for an honour; how should this prevail with us! "Honour the Lord with thy substance," [Proverbs 3:9] and take it for a singular honour that he will vouchsafe to be thus honoured by thee, as David did. How exceedingly shall such be honoured in that great Panegyris (a) at the last day, when the Judge shall say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father: I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat," &c. [Matthew 25:34-35]


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-14.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 31. He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker, mocks God Himself, who is the Champion of the poor and downtrodden; but he that honoreth Him, having the proper regard for the Lord, hath mercy on the poor, this being the natural result of the fear and love of Jehovah. Pro_17:5; Pro_19:17.


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Bibliography
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-14.html. 1921-23.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Proverbs 14:31

I. Notice some suggestions as to the practice of mercy to the poor. We must not confine our aim either to the sins of the soul on the one hand, or to the sufferings of the body on the other.

II. Every one must do his part in the great work of helping those who cannot help themselves.

III. Mercy to the poor must be a law operating from within, and not a system adopted from without.

IV. There must be regulating wisdom as well as motive power.

V. Whatever share you may be able to take in the wholesale benevolence of organised societies, you should also carry on a retail business by personal contact with the sufferers.

W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 410.


References: Proverbs 14:32.—J. Owen, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 49; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 417; Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 198; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 179. Proverbs 14:32-35.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. ii., p. 11. Proverbs 14:34.—J. Budgen, Parochial Sermons, vol. ii., p. 262; Bishop Temple, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 49.




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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/proverbs-14.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He that oppresseth the poor; that useth him hardly, as the Syriac renders it; that withholdeth from him that which is his due, either by the rules of strict justice, or by the great law of charity, of which see Proverbs 3:27, and so it is opposed to having mercy in the next clause.

Reproacheth his Maker; whose image the poor man bears, which might challenge respect, Job 31:15; by whose counsel and providence he is made poor, 1 Samuel 2:7 Proverbs 22:2, and who hath declared himself to be their protector and avenger.

He that honoureth him, his image, and works, and laws,

hath mercy on the poor; doth not only forbear oppressing or injuring of him, but affords him his pity and help.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-14.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

31. Oppresseth… reproacheth — God is the maker, patron, and friend of the poor, and whose “oppresseth” such, because of his poverty, “reproacheth,” or injuriously reflects on, God, who assigned him his lot.

That honoureth him — Better, he honoureth him (God) that hath mercy on the poor, the needy. Two Hebrew words in the verse are rendered by one word, poor. This is often the case in these proverbs. It is probable, indeed, that the words in the original are nearly synonymous, and are used merely for variety of expression. It is a pity that our translators had not more closely imitated the elegance of the original, as they might oftener have done. Compare Proverbs 5:21; Proverbs 17:5; Proverbs 19:17; Job 31:15-16; Matthew 25:40; 1 John 3:17; Deuteronomy 15:7; Luke 3:11; Proverbs 22:2.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-14.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

"Loving evangelism is the foremost road out of poverty." [Note: Larsen, p174.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/proverbs-14.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 14:31. He that oppresseth the poor — That uses the poor man hardly, as the Syriac renders it: that withholdeth from him that which is his due, either by the rules of strict justice, or by the great law of charity, of which see Proverbs 3:27; reproacheth his Maker — Whose image the poor man bears, by whose counsel and providence he is made poor, and who hath declared himself to be the protector and avenger of the poor; but he that honoureth him — That honoureth God’s image, and works, and laws; hath mercy on the poor — Does not only forbear oppressing or injuring the poor man, but affords him his pity and help.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-14.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Him. God takes the poor under his special protection, (Matthew xxv. 40.) and is the distributor of all riches. What would the rich do without the poor? (Calmet)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-14.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the poor = a weak one. Hebrew. dal. See note on Proverbs 6:11.

his Maker. An ancient title found in the book of Job (Job 35:10), also in Proverbs 17:5; just as we speak of the "Creator". Used here because He is the Maker of the weak as well as the strong. We meet with it again in Isaiah 17:7; Isaiah 51:13; Isaiah 54:5. Not "confined to the later literature of Judaism".

the poor = a humble one. Hebrew. "ebyon. See note on Proverbs 6:11.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-14.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker - who hath made the poor as well as the rich (1 Samuel 2:7; Proverbs 22:2, below; Exodus 4:11). The oppressor of the poor, whether by word or deed, persuades himself that God either will not, or cannot, vindicate the poor.

But he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor - i:e., he honoureth his Maker whosoever hath mercy on the poor. It is not enough merely not to oppress, we must also show positive mercy, whereby we honour the Lord, who hath commanded the poor be relieved.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-14.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(31) Reproacheth his Maker.—For having placed him in such a lowly condition. The equality of all men, as being all of them the work of God, is taught by Genesis 1:27; Job 31:15; Proverbs 22:2. The duty of aiding the poor is in Matthew 25:40 based on the still higher ground of the union of Christ with His people, which makes Him regard good done to them as done to Himself.

But he that honoureth him . . .—This would be better rendered, but he that hath mercy on the poor honoureth Him.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-14.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
that oppresseth
17:5; 22:2,16,22,23; Job 31:13-16; Psalms 12:5; Ecclesiastes 5:8; Matthew 25:40-46
but
21; 19:17; Matthew 25:40; John 12:8; 2 Corinthians 8:7-9; 1 John 3:17-21; 4:21

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-14.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

THE OPPRESSED AND THEIR OPPRESSORS

I. Those who are objects of oppression—"The poor." They are made up of three classes.

1. Those who have never known their supplies to be equal to their positive needs—who have not only always lived from hand to mouth, but whose hands have never been able to obtain a sufficient supply for the mouth. Such poor ones have this advantage, they have never known better days—their life is like a river whose shallow waters have never overflowed its banks—whose channel has always been much deeper than the stream. There is no force of contrast to add to the present bitterness.

2. Those who have been reduced from sufficiency to want. To such poverty is a greater hardship than to those just mentioned. The light and comfort of the past makes the darkness and misery of the present harder to bear. If their own wrong-doing or mistakes have been the cause of their fall, the trial is all the heavier.

3. There are those whom we call poor who, though not actually in want, have to toil hard and unceasingly for the necessaries of life, and who know nothing of the luxuries of wealth and ease.

II. The oppression of any or all of these is an insult to God. To oppress the first is to oppress men for what they cannot help—for that for which they are as irresponsible as for the colour of their skin, and therefore it is to reproach Him who appointed them to their lot in life. To oppress the second is to insult God, by afflicting them beyond the affliction which He has permitted to fall upon them. Whether their present condition is retribution or chastisement, its measure has been appointed by the hand of the All-wise Ruler of men, and it is "reproaching" Him to add to it by oppression. If a child is being corrected by its parent, or a criminal is paying the penalty which the judge has awarded to him for his crimes, it is an impeachment of their judgment to add in any way to the punishment that has been decreed. Those who oppress the third class are guilty of a sin against those who have always been special objects of His favour, and who make up a large proportion of the members of His kingdom. (See Homiletics and Comments on Pro .)

III. Mercifulness to the poor reveals reverence for God.

1. It shows that the man regulates his conduct by Divine laws. God, as we have seen in considering the 21st verse, has been most explicit in the revelation of His will in this matter.

2. He sees in every man some trace of his divine Creator.

"Man is God's image; but a poor man is

Christ's stamp to boot."

—Herbert.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

"Oppression" means something more than the contempt and neglect dealt with in Pro . He who acts such a part "reproacheth His Maker." For, first, he acts as if the poor were of another species—an inferior order of beings; whereas they have all the attributes of the same manhood with him by whom they are condemned. Second, he acts as if the circumstances in which the poor are placed were a warrant for him to imitate the Divine conduct and depress them still further, which is a reproach of God, as if He dealt with the poor in a spirit of unkindness or partiality.… A man may have mercy on the poor who does not "honour God." Humanity may, and often does, exist without godliness; but godliness cannot exist without humanity.—Wardlaw.

We treat God with no respect

(1) when "the poor" who are His children, are not treated as such;

(2) when the poor, who are his dependents, are left unhelped, so as to seem to bring Him into discredit, but (as is most intended, judging from the whole drift of this part of the chapter)

(3) when the poor, who are His instruments, and are sent to exercise our virtues, are not treated as such, but our "Maker" thwarted in the work of making us better by these needy visitants. Life moves by such sort of influences.—Miller.

God takes it for an honour, how should this prevail with us? How exceedingly shall such be honoured in that great panegyris at the last day, when the Judge shall say, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat."—Trapp.

He that reproacheth the poor reproacheth his own Maker, and showeth himself unworthy to have been made by Him; reproacheth the Maker of the poor, as if either He could not help him, or else as if He had made him to be oppressed by making him poor. But God, who suffereth thee to oppress the poor, will not suffer thee to be unpunished for it, and seeing thou sparest not to reproach Himself, will not spare to scourge thee. Tully saith, "Men in nothing come nearer God than in giving," and Gregory Nazianzen goes further, and tells us, "Thou mayest even by no labour be made God, do not, therefore, neglect the opportunity of obtaining a Deity. Make thyself God to the miserable, by imitating the mercy of God."—Jermin.

The ancient Church possessed in full the glorious truth, that of all the real compassion which flows through human channels, the fountain-head is on high. He who gets mercy shows it.—Arnot.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:31". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/proverbs-14.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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