“But there will be no poor among you for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess.”
So that’s verse four, and then Deuteronomy chapter 15 verse 11 says, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy, and to the poor in your land.” So put these verses together. Clearly, God is telling his people, especially as they go into the Promised Land, “Care for one another. Provide for one another. Guard against poverty in one another. There will be no poor among you.”
God, we praise you for your grace and abundant provision for us.
God desired for all of his people to be plentifully supplied for. And you see in God’s law all kinds of provisions to keep people out of poverty, to rescue people from poverty, which is why when you get to chapter 15, verse 11, God acknowledges that there will be things in this sinful, broken world that result in poverty. And so God commands his people, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in your land.”
What a phrase! “Open wide your hand to the poor, to those in need.” And I think the takeaway as we pray is obvious, isn’t it? Sure, things are very different then, being a part of God’s people going into the Promised Land and even the physical promises of blessing that were associated with the Promised Land. But clearly we see all throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, commands to care for the poor, to open wide our hands to brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need and to people around us who are in need, to love our neighbors as ourselves.
And so we pray, God, in this sinful, broken world where most everybody who’s listening to this podcast episode right now, who’s praying with me right now, most all of us have plenty of clean water, have plenty of food today, have clothes, have shelter. We have access to medical care. We have so much materially in ways that many people throughout history could not have even imagined. God, we praise you for your grace, for your abundant provision for us. And we pray in the next breath, God, help us to open wide our hands to those who don’t have clean water, to those who don’t have food, to those who don’t have clothing, shelter, and to those who don’t have medical care.
I think about a story I heard just yesterday that illustrates how COVID and this pandemic have driven the poor into even deeper poverty in many places in the world, including many places in my country. God, we pray, we pray that you would help us to love our neighbors as ourselves, that you would help us to open wide our hands individually, as families, in our churches. God, we pray that we would be generous to the poor, that we would open wide our hands to those in need, that the brothers and sisters around us, that your church here around us and around the world, who’s hurting, who’s struggling to find food, water, medical care, God, we pray that you would help us to be faithful to share the resources you have given to us with them, that they might know your provision.
And God, we pray for those who don’t know you, who are physically impoverished. They don’t know your love and your grace and your mercy and they are living, many of them in what seems like an earthly hell. I just think about some of the suffering that I have seen that we know exists in so many different places in the world where there’s such urgent physical need. And I think about those villages high in the Himalayas. I think about places like Somalia that my family was praying for the other night. God, we pray for your provision for those who are poor and in need.
And God, we pray that we would see our lives and our families and our churches as the means for your provision and that it would be true of us, said of us that we opened wide our hands to the poor. God, we pray that even as this prayer comes to a close, you’d show each of us what that means. What do we need to do? How do we need to open wide our hands more to the needy and the poor? God help us to be faithful to this command from your word. In Jesus’ name, we pray according to Deuteronomy 15. Amen.