Tewoldemedhin Habtu: Warning and Encouragement

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The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken. The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. Proverbs 22:7-9

“This proverb is merely realistically presenting the economic leverage one set of people have over others when it states: the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. It has both warning and encouragement: warning to the one who sows wickedness and encouragement to those who suffer. The wicked person will reap trouble and the rod of his fury, which brought suffering to others, will be destroyed. Encouragement is also given to the righteous [who share].”

Tewoldemedhin Habtu in “Proverbs” in Africa Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 790.

We live in a world that encourages debt. It provides people things they want and also mortgages their future, sending them to slavery.

To sow injustice is to aim to rule over others. Alternatively, to share with those in need is praised by God. So don’t miss the message.

Habtu helps us see the two ideas at play here. One is a warning and the other is encouragement. The warning is for those who have economic leverage.

Will they use it to share or to sow injustice and to maintain their place of dominance? Do you see that material blessing comes with a test of obedience?

And if you suffer, take heart. God sees. He will break the rod of those who oppress and fail to share at some point. Take heart.

God, when we are blessed, teach us to share. And when we have need, show us your faithfulness through the obedience of others by caring for us. Amen.