Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor!
The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble.
The LORD protects them
and keeps them alive.
He gives them prosperity in the land
and rescues them from their enemies.
The LORD nurses them when they are sick
and restores them to health.
Psalm 41:1-3 NLT
The very first line of the first verse in this Psalm associates joy with showing kindness to poor people. Sadly, for people in affluent societies, being poor is associated with negative connotations, and perhaps unkind judgements about why they are “poor”. We tend to look at poverty as being a lack of finances, but that is to neglect so many other forms of being poor. There are, perhaps, a few hints in these verses about other kinds of poverty. The poverty of being in trouble. The poverty of being in physical danger. The poverty of sickness. I would add too the poverty of being lonely, without friends or family.
In Matthew 5, Jesus said to His disciples, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The “poor in spirit” are those people who recognise that they lack the resources God puts value on. Heavenly currency is not anything of earthly value, like gold (we read in Revelation that it is used to make roads!). Having spiritual currency starts with the realisation that we have nothing to offer God of any value. Because of our sins we are destitute before Him and have to recognise this by coming to Him in faith for the salvation He has offered through Jesus. In Matthew 6, Jesus encouraged His disciples to build up “treasure in Heaven” through their service to Him.
But what was David referring to in these verses in Psalm 41? In verse 1, he was, I think, referring to Godly people in his day, who were looking after the needy people around them. And through them God was providing for them. Although God can directly provide the resources people need for life, most of the time He chooses to deliver His provision through His people. So we are encouraged to be His servants by looking out for those who are poor, in our communities, in our families, supplying fellowship, a helping hand. Nursing those in need. Providing a listening ear when needed. The opportunities are endless. There is a young woman in my community who every week, uses her lunch hour to walk the dog of an old lady, now immobilised following a fall. A young woman banking spiritual currency for her future.
So we, as God’s people, have a challenge today. As the King’s servants, what does He want us to do to relieve the poverty around us? There may not just be financial needs, there will be others as well. In our communities, who can we find who is “poor”?