Who Speaks for the Poor?

Read: Amos 5:11-24

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. (Prov. 31:8)

What does Proverbs mean when it tells us to open our mouths for the mute? Here we might remember an important principal of Hebrew poetry: parallelism. In both Psalms and Proverbs, the writer often emphasizes a point by saying essentially the same thing in a slightly different way in both halves of a verse: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” (Ps. 103:1). Sometimes the parallelism is progressive, when the second phrase in the verse advances the thought of the first. So here, the mute aren’t physically unable to speak, they’re the poor whose cries for justice aren’t listened to.

In our society those with a lot of physical and social capital—money in the bank, a good education, a strong extended family, a wide circle of friends, a decent job or career, insurance, retirement benefits, easy access to legal advice and medical care—have the means of protecting themselves and defending their rights. But there are many who lack those advantages. It may be because they are literally destitute, or it may be because they are socially marginalized.

So who will advocate for the rights of the defenseless among us—the immigrant who doesn’t speak the language, the poor person who can’t afford to pay for help, or the most voiceless and defenseless of all—the unborn? Who will speak for those who can’t speak for themselves? Amos did. Will we? —David Bast

As you pray, ask how you might speak.

About the Author

david bast
Rev. David Bast

Rev. Dave Bast retired as the President and Broadcast Minister of Words of Hope in January 2017, after 23 years with the ministry. Prior to his ministry and work at Words of Hope, Dave served as a pastor for 18 years in congregations in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several devotional books. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, he has also studied at both the Fuller and Calvin seminaries. Dave and his wife, Betty Jo, have four children and four grandchildren. Dave enjoys reading, growing tomatoes, and avidly follows the Detroit Tigers.