Proverbs 13:23

ESV The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice.
NIV An unplowed field produces food for the poor, but injustice sweeps it away.
NASB Abundant food is in the uncultivated ground of the poor, But it is swept away by injustice.
CSB The uncultivated field of the poor yields abundant food, but without justice, it is swept away.
NLT A poor person’s farm may produce much food, but injustice sweeps it all away.
KJV Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.

What does Proverbs 13:23 mean?

Many statements in the book of Proverbs refer to the general rule of godly wisdom: doing good usually results in good (Proverbs 3:21–23). For the most part, following biblical principles and obeying the Lord gives a person greater success than pursuing sin (Proverbs 2:3–8). At the least, godly conduct avoids the negative consequences of dishonesty and crime (Proverbs 5:22; 11:5). However, Scripture is also honest about how evil people can take prosperity away from those who are righteous. An especially heinous form of evil is when those who are rich take advantage of those who are poor.

A poor man may work his land and obtain enough food to put on the table, but he may lose it quickly. An unjust person or persons may steal what the land produces. Unfair or unwise orders from a landowner may severely limit what the crop produces. The apostle James took unscrupulous rich farmers to task for keeping their workers poor. They were unjust and cared only about increasing their wealth so they could live in luxury. He writes in James 5:4–6: "Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you."
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