What does Proverbs 29:7 mean?
ESV: A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
NIV: The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.
NASB: The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; The wicked does not understand such concern.
CSB: The righteous person knows the rights of the poor, but the wicked one does not understand these concerns.
NLT: The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.
KJV: The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
Verse Commentary:
In Scripture, the word "poor" often means more than simply a lack of money. The Hebrew root word dal implies weakness, being low, powerlessness, and so forth. This contrasts with those enabled or supported, especially those in power. God demonstrates care for the weak and poor (Proverbs 14:31; 21:13) and expects those who follow Him to do the same (Matthew 25:34–40; Proverbs 22:22; 31:8–9; Psalm 41:1). Just as being "poor" can involve more than money, caring for such people extends to more than charity. It also includes working for "justice" (Proverbs 18:5) by advocating for what is fair and true. Lack of concern for disadvantaged people is a sign of wickedness (Proverbs 12:26; 28:5, 15).

The apostle James' readers were persecuted and, in many cases, robbed of property and possessions. That even occurred in the case of cruel landowners who cheated and lied to avoid paying the people they'd hired. He writes: "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" (James 5:4–6).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 29:1–11 begins with an especially dire warning. Solomon (Proverbs 25:1) contrasts righteous government to wicked rulers. The passage also cautions against deception and points out that righteousness is shown in being charitable to the poor. Arguing with fools is pointless, but there is great value in keeping one's temper in check.
Chapter Summary:
Much of this passage refers to negative consequences of unwise attitudes or behavior: stubbornness leads to brokenness. Lack of self-control brings shame. Ignorant, ungodly rulers spread sin and corruption. Pride leads to humiliation. Most of these statements follow the two-part pattern established elsewhere in the book of Proverbs. The final lesson summarizes the deep difference between those who are godly and those who pursue their own desires.
Chapter Context:
This concludes the collection of Solomon's proverbs which King Hezekiah's men collected (Proverbs 25:1). Like previous passages, chapter 29 contrasts wisdom and folly, the benefits of heeding God's law and the devastating consequences of disobeying it, and the blessings of righteousness compared to the curses of sin.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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