The Essence of Life: Proverbs 15:25, "The Lord is concerned for the vulnerable."
Proverbs 15:25, “25 The Lord will tear down the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow.”
- That phrase “The Lord” doesn’t always carry a lot of weight in our 2019 ears, but in the original language we see the word “Yahweh.” Yahweh is the personal name of God. It is how the God of Scripture introduces Himself to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3, and it is thought that “Yahweh” is a play off the Hebrew verb, “To Be / HYH.”
I know this is technical, but it’s so good. When you watch the Prince of Egypt, and you should, (Mariah Carrie and Whitney Houston Duet, amazing), the God of Scripture tells Moses to go to Pharaoh (King of Egypt, “Let my people go."
And Moses says, “What shall I say when the Pharaoh asks, ‘Who sent you?’” (Fair question) And the Lord says to Moses, “Tell the Pharaoh, ‘I Am Who I Am’” (Wow) so that the God of Scripture is saying to Moses, “I am (fill in the blank).
I am powerful. I am glorious. I am creator. I am righteous. I am justice. I am faithful. I am YHWY. Does that make sense? That’s what is being communicated at the beginning of verse 25.
The original audience would have read verse 25, and immediately the “the Lord” would have snapped them into focus at His authority and power.
- The next phrase we see is, “Will tear down” and in the original language the phrase means to “To uproot, demolish, so as to drive into exile.”
Remember, this is an agricultural economy. These are farmers and shepherds. These are men and women who wanted to put down roots, and in verse 25 the author is lifting our eyes to a future warning of their lives being uprooted.
We don’t know what the future warning is yet, but at this point in the proverb the God of Scripture has our attention; we are leaning toward the edge of our seats to hear what the Lord, the I AM, has to say.
- Ah-ha! Finally we get to see the warning with clarity. Finally we get to focus on the subject of the proverb, and we see a contrast between, “The House of the Proud” and “The Boundary of the Widow.” We will touch on the “House of the Proud” in a minute, but lets understand the widow.
In the ancient world the widow is a picture of vulnerability. When a wife would lose her husband she would have lost her symbol of protection, provision, and position in the community, so that the widow is a picture of vulnerability.
The widow would have lacked the physical strength to care for the property on a daily basis (tilling the soil, harvesting the field, caring for the animals), she would have lost influence in the community, and she was vulnerable.
The word “boundary” is so important to draw out, because in the ancient world a person’s property would have been established by a stone boundary for the family to outline the parameter of their land.
So that, in verse 25 the “The House of the Proud” are ignoring God’s Word made clear to care for the widow, and instead they are taking advantage of the widow by slowly moving the boundary of the land while she wasn’t looking. C’mon!
Year after year the “House of the Proud” ignores Scriptures call to care for the widow, and inch by inch, foot by foot, moves the boundary, expands his crop, minimizes her crop, and it is all at the expense of the vulnerable widow.
So that in Proverbs 15:25 the God of Scripture says, “Oh yeah, I see what you’re doing, and if you keep it up, I will destroy you.” In fact, the phrase “House of the Proud” implies for generations. It isn’t just “the proud” but “the house of the proud” so that it is all of one’s self, spouse, children, house, land, and even future generations.” He’s like Liam Neeson who says “I have a particular set of skills, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
So that the big idea of this proverb is the Lord's heart is toward the vulnerable, but how does this proverb apply to our life in 2019.
- Do you know the great, “I Am?” Do you know the Lord? I don’t mean, “Do you know about the Lord” like you “know about Arianna Grande”, but do you know the Lord?
- Do you know that God’s Word calls you to help others, not hurt others? Maybe that seems obvious? Maybe you are thinking, “I know I am not supposed to walk around hitting people with a baseball bat?” But, the implication of Proverbs 15:25 isn’t to be indifferent toward the widow but to “help the widow.”
- Do you know the Lord is your defender? It is possible that you hear God’s call on your life to be helpful, and at the same time there is a real weight in your soul saying, “It’s great that the Lord is the defender of the widow, but what about me?"
What about those times where it looks like the “House of the Proud” are not being “torn down” but built up? What about those times when the vulnerable are abused, and nobody speaks up?
There’s a story in Genesis 37 of a man named Joseph, you should read this story in more depth, but Joseph is despised by his brothers so deeply that they take him captive and sale Joseph to a passing caravan of travelers.
Now, as the story unfolds, Genesis 39, Joseph’s family (the brother’s who sold him) are going through a famine that is beyond what anyone can imagine, and in desperation, those brothers make their way to Egypt to get food, and in Genesis 44 the brothers find themselves standing before Joseph, who they thought was dead.
Unbeknownst to the brothers, Joseph is eventually purchased by the Pharaoh of Egypt, rises in position and power, and has access to all the resources these brothers need, and in Genesis 45 Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers and says, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt, and (listen to these words) it was not you who sent me here, but God.”
If you are standing in Joseph’s shoes it would have been like a roller coaster of circumstances and emotions where anyone would have cried out, “Lord, where are you?” And yet His trust is in the Lord!