"Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness." Psalm 119:36
Text: Exodus 22 : 25-27
LOANS TO THE POOR
There were many ways in which the poor may be offered help. One of them was to offer loans. However, significant words of warning were given to those who were thinking of profiteering!
“If you lend money to any of My people who are poor
among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him;
you shall not charge him interest. If you ever take your
neighbour’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him,
before the sun goes down. For that is his only covering,
it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in?
And it will be that when he cries out to Me, I will hear;
for I am gracious.”
Definite conditions were attached to loans offered to the poor! No one was allowed to take advantage of those who were already found in distress!
1. “You shall not be like a moneylender”
Moneylenders appear to have suffered ill-repute even in the ancient days! Their practice is well described as “loansharking”.
2. “You shall not charge him interest”
Who would pursue giving out loans if no interest could be charged? Only those who had genuinely altruistic hearts!
3. “Garment as a Pledge”
The rich person may feel that he ought to take a pledge that would guarantee the repayment of the loan! This was allowed. But what if the poor person had only his cloak to offer as a pledge? God’s law insisted that the pledge must be given back to the poor man every evening. His garment must be returned because it is used by the poor as a blanket in the cold night!
4. “When he cries out to Me, I will hear”
The poor were not denied access to God! His cries were as valid as those of the affluent! Social status matters not at all to God! There is a veiled threat in the words “I will hear”. The meaning is clear though! The Lord will discipline those who try to take advantage of the poor!
5. “For I am gracious”
Did Israel understand God’s laws? These laws were certainly different from those found in other countries! The poor, the weak, the helpless… these were especially protected by the Divine laws of God. The laws well reflected an important truth- that He was Gracious! And indeed that was absolutely true!