Plundering the Poor
Merciful Father, challenge my priorities, transform my life with Your Word, that I might walk in Your grace and love for others.
Read Isaiah 3:13—4:1
13 The Lord takes his place in court;
he rises to judge the people.
14 The Lord enters into judgment
against the elders and leaders of his people:
“It is you who have ruined my vineyard;
the plunder from the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people
and grinding the faces of the poor?”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
16 The Lord says,
“The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
strutting along with swaying hips,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
17 Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion;
the Lord will make their scalps bald.”
18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, 19 the earrings and bracelets and veils, 20 the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, 21 the signet rings and nose rings, 22 the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses 23 and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.
24 Instead of fragrance there will be a stench;
instead of a sash, a rope;
instead of well-dressed hair, baldness;
instead of fine clothing, sackcloth;
instead of beauty, branding.
25 Your men will fall by the sword,
your warriors in battle.
26 The gates of Zion will lament and mourn;
destitute, she will sit on the ground.
4 1 In that day seven women
will take hold of one man
and say, “We will eat our own food
and provide our own clothes;
only let us be called by your name.
Take away our disgrace!”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhatever your circumstances, thank the Lord for his provision for you today.
The Lord stands to address the leaders of Israel (13): royalty and representatives of the local community and also the wealthy women—probably the wives. All have used their position not to protect and serve, but to exploit the people. They have misused God’s provision, filled their houses with “plunder from the poor,” and the women have adorned themselves with the proceeds and flaunted it with arrogance and without concern or compassion.
The Lord expresses his feelings in the strongest of terms, talking of “crushing my people” and “grinding the faces of the poor” (15), showing how passionately he hates this. There is an extended, almost sarcastic attack on the ostentation and extravagance of the women of Zion. It is sobering that he names so many specific items (18–23)—the Lord sees our heart, and every tiny detail of our trivial distractions.
It is difficult to read this passage without drawing a parallel with today. Our society’s preoccupation with appearance, make-up, fashion and “selfies” sits uneasily against the increasing inequality in society and the lack of concern for the poor.
Where and when do you see the poor in the course of your day? Ask the Lord to help you see them with his eyes.
Lord, give me eyes to recognize Your passionate response to exploitation and vanity in my world today.