The Lord tears down the house of the proud
but maintains the widow’s boundaries.
The contrast of what the Lord does in each situation helps explain who the proud is. He is not merely someone with an ego problem who looks down on others such as the widow; rather, he seeks to take advantage of the needy such as the widow. He is after her property; he enlarges his own possessions through taking away from those who are poor and do not have a protector.
The proverb warns the oppressor that the Lord himself protects the interests of the poor; whoever will go after the needy must answer to God. We may think to point out that oppressors often do avoid punishment. But the truth of the matter is that they are likely to fall. Other proud enemies may undo them; the government may bring them to justice; ruin may occur within their own house. Even if they outwardly seem to be secure, their security comes with a price. They do not have freedom to live without worries about enemies.
But let this proverb also be a word of instruction to us in caring for the widow. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” From the earliest days of the church, the care of widows was assumed to be a responsibility of the Christian community. What widows do you know? A neighbor? A colleague? A church member? Perhaps God has placed you in her life so that through you he “maintains her boundaries.”
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