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Prov 31:20 – She stretched out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
It has always struck me that this verse is a double barrel – it seems to say the same thing twice and yet as I studied the meanings of the words used, trying to get an understanding of the richness of the Hebrew compared to the simplicity of word choices in the English I think it is saying two different things. Let me share my word study with you.
She stretched out her hand to the poor.
The word hand here though it means our physical hand, it comes from a root word that has the connotations of humilty, to bend down, to bow.
The word stretched out is more than just doing – it is an active powerful word that indicates “break in pieces”. Her attitude, her actions made change.
The word poor can be described with words like: afflicted, humble, wretched, needy, weak, lowly, depressed, downcast. These people had a physical need.
yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
Reacheth forth – this is a deliberate, intentional act
Hands – though the hand continues to be a physical part of her body, there is strength and power in her hand, and there is an aspect that it refers to her portion (inferring the things that belong to her.)
Needy – these people are in great want – oppressed, abused, they need help, deliverance from trouble, especially as delivered by God.
With an attitude of humility this lady brings about change in the lives of the needy around her; people who are afflicted, weak, depressed, people with physical needs. She does all that she can to help them and she is successful! She breaks in pieces their needs!
But… she also brings her spiritual portion, to share with those in need of God – those who need deliverance of spirit, those who are oppressed she shows them life, she shows them Jesus!
Who are the people in need around us?
- Our children – when I saw this verse in terms of a spiritual need – my children came to mind. God has placed these children, who need Jesus, in my care. Do I bring all that is at my disposal to show Jesus to my children? What is at my disposal? My relationship with Jesus – do I show my children what this looks like? My prayer life – do I pray for my children’s spiritual well being. My love – do I love my children even at their worst – just like Jesus loved me, just like Jesus loves the needy?
- My friends – We all go through physical and spiritual struggles – am I there for my friends? Do I bring them Jesus? Do I give them my practical help, my time, my strength? Do I do all that I can to help them in their time of need?
- The people that I meet – this is probably the most challenging because often we aren’t invited into their lives and yet their needs are so great. Jesus show me how to meet these peoples needs.
How to bring change in the lives of people who are in need? I wonder if there isn’t wisdom in the sequence of this double barrel verse in Proverbs. The first portion is addressing the physical needs, the second is addressing the spiritual. As we build relationships with people, helping them, providing for their physical needs, we will be there when they come to their darkest hour, and recognise their need for Jesus.
Am I willing to invest my time, my energies to the needs of other people?