Monday, May 10, 2010

Laws on Lending: Dt 24:6, 10-13

"No one shall take a handmill or an upper millstone in pledge, for he would be taking a life in pledge... When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not enter his house to take his pledge. You shall remain outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. If he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 24:6, 10-13)
God provides for some basic laws pertaining to lending to the poor. These laws were intended to preserve the rights and dignity of the poor and to prevent the rich from exercising their power of wealth over the poor. King Solomon noted, "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave." (Proverbs 22:7) Because of this inequity of power, God's has established his laws to ensure equitable treatment of the borrower by the lender.

In this passage, God establishes two basic rules of lending, both which deal with the collecting and holding of collateral. First, the required collateral must not be so egregious as to deprive the borrower of their ability to earn a living. In Moses' day that would be taking away a man's millstone, today it might be taking away a man's house, car, tools, or other assets that he might depend upon to make a living. Secondly, the collecting of collateral must be done in a way as to not demean the borrower or to deprive them of their dignity. The rich are not to view the borrower as their slaves but as their brethren and they are to treat them with the dignity that is fitting a brother.

In summary, God says that our lending should be in such a way as to engender the blessings of those to whom we lend. When we view lending as a means of increasing our wealth, we begin to view the poor as objects and not people made in God's image. However, when we view lending as an opportunity to bless and aid others, we see them as people and treat them as brothers. This is the kind of lending that God desires. The kind of lending that leads to a promise. "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done." (Proverbs 19:17 NIV)

David Robison

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