Proverbs 3:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 3:28, NIV: "Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back tomorrow and I'll give it to you'-- when you already have it with you."

Proverbs 3:28, ESV: "Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you."

Proverbs 3:28, KJV: "Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee."

Proverbs 3:28, NASB: "Do not say to your neighbor, 'Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,' When you have it with you."

Proverbs 3:28, NLT: "If you can help your neighbor now, don't say, 'Come back tomorrow, and then I'll help you.'"

Proverbs 3:28, CSB: "Don't say to your neighbor, "Go away! Come back later. I'll give it tomorrow"--when it is there with you."

What does Proverbs 3:28 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In this verse Solomon endorses both charity and transparency. This comment flows naturally from the prior verse, which forbids someone to "withhold good" from those to whom it is due. Doing good for others—especially when it's something expected or owed—is not to be delayed. The imagery used here also suggests someone coming with a request for help. Saying "come back later," when help is available now, is stubborn and dishonest. In the New Testament, James evokes this same idea, condemning the practice of offering words to the poor without backing them up with charitable giving (James 2:15–16).

Further context for this approach comes from other scriptural commands about helping one's neighbors. The Lord instructed Israel not to reap their fields right up to the edge but to leave some of the harvest for the poor and the sojourner (Leviticus 23:22). Being a devout Israelite, farmer Boaz observed this injunction and gave instructions to his laborers to let the widow Ruth glean "even among the sheaves" (Ruth 2:15). Ezekiel 18:12 condemns the person who "oppresses the poor and needy."

The early church diligently cared for the poor. At Pentecost the believers sold their possessions and belongings and distributed the proceeds to the needy (Acts 2:45). The needy at the time were Jews from foreign countries who had come to observe the Feast of Pentecost and had become believers in Jesus. Far from home, they had no means of support. Later, in a time of famine, the apostle Paul initiated an offering for the poor (1 Corinthians 16:1–4; 2 Corinthians 9:1–2).