This verse speaks of a man who “shuts his ears” and doesn’t listen to those who need help (“the poor”). It is a Cause-and-Effect wise saying and suggests his own “cry out” will “not be answered.” While others may not be listening to this man, it seems most likely that is it God who won’t be answering him.
Consequently, this verse reminds us of a Biblical truth going back to the 10 Commandments – the connection between our vertical relationship (me with God) and our horizontal relationships (me with others). In this case, we are reminded that our unwillingness to listen to the poor will affect our own ability to get answers from God.
In fact the Bible also says that both love (1 Jn 4:20) and forgiveness from the consequences of our daily sins (Mt 6:14-15) are related to our willingness to love and forgive others. If I am really in a right relationship with God, I will also be in appropriate relationships with other people.
Throughout Proverbs, the “poor” are important people in the world to whom we simply must pay attention. God will honor our willingness to help them. Sadly, I will admit that my sensitivity to the poor has not always been so good.
Coming to Helping Up Mission and reading the Proverbs daily has helped me have a better perspective. It has also given me the opportunity to experience first-hand the wonderful examples of Christian love so many demonstrate here at HUM on a daily basis. Even better than that – He’s watching, too!