Proverbs 17:5

ESV Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
NIV Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
NASB One who mocks the poor taunts his Maker; One who rejoices at disaster will not go unpunished.
CSB The one who mocks the poor insults his Maker, and one who rejoices over calamity will not go unpunished.
NLT Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.
KJV Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

What does Proverbs 17:5 mean?

God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:27). This means everyone—even those culture looks down on as less important—bear value and meaning in the Lord's eyes. This proverb condemns something described by the root word la'ag, which evokes the image of a mocking stutter or "making fun of" another. Insulting classes of people insults God. As the NASB puts it, such a mocker "taunts his Maker."

Instead of ridiculing disadvantaged people, those who are better off should help the poor. God had made provision for the poor in Israel's agricultural society by instructing farmers not to reap the corners of their fields. Instead, they were to leave them for the poor to harvest (Leviticus 19:10). Isaiah 61:1 declares that the message brought by Jesus, the Messiah, will be especially welcome for those less privileged in society. Luke 6:20 quotes Jesus as saying, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." Truly, the poor who believe in Christ will be rich in His kingdom.

This verse also condemns gloating over the misfortunes of others. That attitude is especially heinous when driven by spite, but it's sinful even if the disaster is entirely expected or "deserved.". This temptation is so universal that modern psychology labels it with the German word schadenfreude. It's appropriate to appreciate justice; we can legitimately approve of well-deserved consequences for evil. That is a very different than experiencing glee over another person's pain and suffering. Smirking over anyone's agony—even if they "earned" it—is contrary to God's will. The first half of this proverb sets the basis for that requirement: all people are made in God's image; God doesn't enjoy it when anyone suffers pain (Ezekiel 33:11). Israel's rival nation, Edom, was strongly condemned for such a response to tragedy (Obadiah 1:12). Other proverbs make similar comments (Proverbs 24:17–18).

In His earthly ministry, Jesus demonstrated compassion on all who experienced harsh circumstances. Instead of rejoicing over their misfortunes, we ought to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).
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