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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 14:21


"He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor"

despises

This is the Hebrew word buz, which means despise, hold as insignificant, scorn.

The idea seems to be that Solomon is letting us know that we will run into people who will have needs and they will ask us for help. If we look down on them because they have a need, we are sinning. We are being selfish, arrogant, and haughty.

neighbor

This is the Hebrew word reah, which means companion, someone who is known to us. There is a tendency to look down our noses at people we know who go through difficult times. We can believe that we are superior and wiser and that is why we are the one who is not affected by this problem. Solomon is trying to curb our arrogance.

happy

This is the Hebrew word esher, which means happiness, bliss. This is a state of internal satisfaction. In this context it is in contradistinction to the state of arrogance and superiority that many people want to be in. Solomon is pointing out that many of us may want to enjoy a position of superiority over those we know, but the real state of bliss is when we help those who are in need. Having more power, a higher position, and belittling people does not produce the happiness that most think it will.

gracious

This is the Hebrew word hannun, which means gracious, giving, generous. Solomon is clearly pointing out what we all know – that truly meeting the needs of another person produces a sense of accomplishment and joy. He contrasts this with the evil delight we can take in putting people down whom we know.

poor

This is the Hebrew word ani, which means poor or afflicted. We are to help those who have a need that we can meet. This is the story of the good Samaritan.

There is a principle of selfishness that lives within us that wants to think more of ourselves by putting down all the people that we know. It is a mistake to give into those mental impulses. Those ways of thinking bring a certain sinful pleasure and satisfaction, but they do not produce true happiness. This comes from meeting the needs of others.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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