(#48) The Proverbs of Solomon 11:26-Corrupt Commerce

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 11:26: “The people will curse him who withholds grain, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.”

It is bad business to withhold products that are needed. “Buy low and sell high” may be popular in the Stock Market, but in the marketplace, it loses future business! Companies, or individuals, who buy up needed products in “bad” times, in order to sell them at higher prices during “harder” times, not only incur the wrath of customers, but also the curse of God, Himself. In condemning corrupted Israel, God gave Amos a vision for those “who swallow up the needy, And make the poor of the land fail, Saying: ‘When will the New Moon be past, That we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, That we may trade wheat? Making the ephah small and the shekel large, Falsifying the scales by deceit, That we may buy the poor for silver, And the needy for a pair of sandals-Even sell the bad wheat?’” (Amos 8:4-6). “Swallowing up the needy,” and “making the poor fail” describe business and/or governmental practices that slant economics away from hard work being rewarded with honest pay and profit. Those evil practices included: cutting product sizes with short scales, while increasing the price of the goods sold; making the “poor” go into such debt they are bought for “silver;” reducing them down to such need their price is the same as shoes; and selling them damaged goods! Today, this would be called “re-packaging,” “inflation,” “over-extended credit buying,” “depression economy,” and “selling expired goods.”

When the Israelites were returned to their Promised Land, fulfilling all prophecies on that subject, the “nobles’ and rulers’” practices were listed as: “For there were those who said, ‘We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.’ There were also some who said, ‘We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.’ There were also those who said, ‘We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards’” (Nehemiah 5:2-5). When the leaders of a people, whether business or government, adopt practices or legislation that take unfair advantage of the hard-working families under their care, God will hold them accountable. James wrote: “Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth” (James 5:4). Jesus Christ endorsed truth with: “the laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7); “he who reaps receives wages” (John 4:36); and Paul added to this with: “to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” (Romans 4:4). Wages are earned, not given, and everything that is done to keep honest work from being rewarded with honest wages is against God’s Will!

Another proverb upholds this teaching: Proverbs 30:14: “There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, And whose fangs are like knives, To devour the poor from off the earth, And the needy from among men.”

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

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Studies in the Book of Proverbs #10

(#10) Wisdom’s 2 Simple Rules for Life 3:27-35

Verses 27-30: How to “Love Your Neighbor.”

Verse 27: “Due” is the operative word. This refers to what is owed, whether something purchased, work hired, or payment promised. Moses’ Law required this: “’You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning” (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14-15). The wisdom of Solomon required this: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed- Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6). First Century Jews had long since lost this practice: “Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth” (James 5:4). It is not wrong to buy on credit, but it is wrong to not pay when you can and should!

Verse 28: Delaying promised assistance to one’s neighbor is an evil exercise that  frustrates mercy. “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).

Verse 29: It’s bad enough to frustrate mercy to a neighbor in need, but to “devise evil” takes this to a newer, lower level of indecency! The word “neighbor” literally describes the ones closer to us than the rest of the world, and they probably have chosen our “safety” for neighborhood. This is a main missing ingredient in “the hood,” for neighbors should be able to rely upon each other for “safety” when police cannot always be there. “Neighborhood Watches” should be the order of the day everywhere.

Verse 30: In our litigious society, this must be re-instated! It is easy to ignore this rule of “neighborliness” when TV commercials are creating band wagonloads of people wanting to “sue” someone for something. Lawsuits should be limited to “harm done,” not in order to establish some “harm done!”

Verses 31-35: How to NOT Get “Suckered Into the Wrong Crowd!”

Verses 31-32: Don’t envy them. “The oppressor” who sues for no other reason than greed and who “devises evil” against neighbors shows a tyrant stripe wide enough to be seen! He/she/they should not be “envied” (desire what they obtain) because what they are doing is “perverse” and an “abomination to the LORD.” This unyielding damnation on their “oppression” should show this as a wrong path for the righteous. We may not see that God meets with the righteous, not oppressors!

Verses 33-35: Accept God’s Awaiting Judgments. God curses the “house of the wicked,” but “blesses the home of the just,” that is, He will not bless those whose will is to be wicked, and He will bless those who seek to do right. Verse 34 is quoted in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 as: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” and in both passages this is a reason to “be humble.” Do not count “the legacy of fools” by their money, influence, power, glory, murders, conquests, but by their standing before Almighty God!

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

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