On Christian Care for the Poor
Psalm 41:1-13
Blessed is he that considers the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.…

Judaism stood alone among ancient religions, Christianity stands alone among modern, in the inculcation of earnest, solemn, anxious consideration for the poor. And for the same reason. They both try to look on the world as the God who made it looks on it, and to share the burden of its want and its woe which is pressing on His heart. In nothing is the unity of Scripture more beautiful, more conspicuous, than in this great thought about the poor. Perhaps it is the grandest evidence of its inspiration. Christ deemed it the crowning glory of His kingdom (Matthew 11:5).

I. THE MOTIVE TO CONSIDERATION OF THE POOR. I do not mean the reasons — they are abundant, but the motive. For the reasons and the motive power are, alas! widely different. The reasons are abundant for upright, godly conduct. A man is tempted to selfish, sensual, knavish action. There are ten thousand reasons why he should forbear, not one why he should yield. Every drop of his blood, every beat of his heart, every fibre of his nerve, could it speak, would cry out against it. His whole being, body, soul, and spirit, is against it. The whole structure of the universe is against it. God's face, God's hand, are against it. But he does it and faces it all. So here the reason is one thing; the power which makes the reason effective, which touches, moves, compels the conduct, is from a yet deeper spring. The fundamental element in the motive to care for the poor, is the revelation that the poor are the care of God. However man came to it, he has come to a god-like nature. The strongest influence which you can bring to bear on him is the revelation of the mind of God. There is something in him which moves him to imitation. The child's nature and passion, the cry of his spirit, Father, Father, tends to take shape in acts sympathetic with God.


1. Set plainly before the mind's eye the terrible inequalities of gifts, possessions, culture, advantages, and all that makes the outward joy of life. We like to escape from it. The blessing is for the man who faces it; who in his comfortable home, with art, music, dress, amusement, luxurious appliances, carriages, and food, will set before his face the life of the millions to whom all this is as far off as the stars. Who will think of the laundress shut up in a hot, fetid room, standing over a tub or an ironing-board, four or five young children clinging round her, and one ill up-stairs; but who dares not stop, who must work on lest they starve. Or poor parents watching a fair child dear to them as yours to you, and pining daily for the nourishing food and sea air, but which they are utterly unable to give. The man who considers the poor will keep this in sight while he enjoys God's blessings.

2. He will not believe that God meant life to be anything like this. The heathen says that this is God's ordinance, and it is impious to interfere. But the Christian is quite sure God meant nothing like this.

3. He will say, It is a solemn part of my duty to mend it. God leaves it with us, not because He does not care, but because He cares so intensely. He will have us see to it. It is society's most pressing, most sacred, most blessed work, to consider the poor; to be always meditating, planning, and working at what aims at the extinction of the bitterness of poverty from the world. It is not mere giving. Some do most who give nothing, who have nothing to give. It is the mind and the heart to think and to care which first need to be cultivated; the feeling that it is base and selfish to enjoy our advantages, comforts, and luxuries, while we abstain from systematic thoughtful effort to bridge over the chasm which separates the classes, and to make less bitter the lot of the poor.

III. THE BLESSING IN WHICH IT FRUITS. "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord." Many may feel that this is a far-away matter — The Lord will repay. They see nothing tangible here; brave words, no more. To me it seems the reality of realities. I see something very intangible in the best of worldly securities; who is to secure them? While this is real, solid, enduring, as the order of the world.

1. The blessing lies hid in the order of the world. God has made man and the world so that this mind shall be blessed. All men honour, love, and cherish it. It draws forth the best elements of every nature, the sunny side of every heart.

2. The blessing lies deeper and closer, in a warm glow of living joy in his own heart. It is the soul's health, this care for need. There is the glow of health in the soul of the man who cherishes it, which is incomparable with any other sensation; it is the pure joy of life.

3. Deeper still, it lies in the heart and the hand of God. God loves that man, and counts him His friend. God watches that man, and assures his life. In moments of crisis and strain it is as if a Hand came out of the invisible to clasp and upbear him — the Hand which will one day lift him out of the shades of death to that world where he shall hear the welcome, "Come, thou blessed of my Father," etc.

(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.} Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

WEB: Blessed is he who considers the poor. Yahweh will deliver him in the day of evil.

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