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Be Prudent and Act with Knowledge
Proverbs 13:23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
23 There is much food in the fallow ground of the poor,
but it is swept away by injustice.
The contrast here in verse 23 seems to be the ever recurring one between honest poverty and dishonest wealth. However, it can also be a simple case of bad things happen to persons who have God’s blessing and work hard.
There is much food in the fallow ground of the poor: Here fallow ground (Heb. נִיר nir) refers to ground or land that has not been used, as it has not been seeded for one or more seasons. Fallowing allows the soil to have a certain rest period that gives it the opportunity to replenish nutrients that can be seeped from certain plants or regular irrigation.
But it is swept away by injustice: Here swept away (Heb. סָפָה saphah) suggests being destroyed, viewed as being taken away or captured, and, in this context, one has been cheated out of the necessities of life by others. Injustice (Heb. מִשְׁפָּט mishpat) refers to those who have acted unfairly to another, in a just and right way.
A cautious and careful person acts with knowledge and wisdom even when he has very little. “There is much food in the fallow ground of the poor,” says Proverbs 13:23, “but it is swept away by injustice.” We could possibly view the second half of verse 13 as the person being swept away because they lacked good judgment. A person who has very little but works hard and had God’s blessing because he is obedient to his Word can gain much in time. When one is lacking justice, the unfair judgment of Satan’s world can sweep away the means and opportunity to get ahead in life. There are times when a person has truly little in the ways of the necessities of life because they are lazy, or they are living in sin. (Prov. 13:25) Yet, bad things happen to good people in Satan’s world. A person who is righteous before God may work extremely hard every day and still have a lack of food, sleep (stress), shelter, and clothing because of injustice.