Proverbs 14:21

He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
– Proverbs 14:21

The word for despiseth means to treat with contempt or view as worthless. The word used is common in the Old Testament for sin. It means to miss the mark or the way. We infer from the parallel the neighbor is in some way needy, so to ignore or despise him is to miss the way of wisdom and righteous (Proverbs 11:12). It is a direct affront to our Creator (Proverbs 17:5) and a mark of the wicked (Proverbs 18:3). The contrast is to show mercy, which is to bend down in pity to one beneath you. To show mercy is the way of wisdom and righteousness to acknowledge that both alike are created by God (Proverbs 22:2). The merciful thereby honor God (Proverbs 14:31). The merciful will also receive mercy and be happy, or blessed (Proverbs 19:17; 28:27).

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Proverbs 14:20

The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends.
– Proverbs 14:20

This proverb is a wise observation of reality. The poor are those without resources and means (Proverbs 10:15; Luke 14:13-14). Consequently, they don’t have so many friends as the rich do. We would call these sorts of friends as belonging to the fair-weather class (Proverbs 19:4, 6).

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