What the Bible Says About Poverty | Compassion International

What the Bible Says About Poverty

In the Bible, God speaks often of the poor and needy. He commands us to give generously to them and to speak up on their behalf.

To help you connect with God's heart for the poor, we have compiled this list of Bible verses that speak to how He asks us to relate to and serve the less fortunate among us.

 A Bible with the words God is good written on it.

All of the Bible references are from the New International Version.


Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy

  — Proverbs 31:8-9

Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.

  — Proverbs 22:22-23

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you"—when you already have it with you.

  — Proverbs 3:27-28

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

  — Proverbs 11:25

Sameson Tilahun is a Compassion alumni, role model to children and a refresher of others.

It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.

  — Proverbs 14:21

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

  — Proverbs 14:31

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

  — Proverbs 19:17

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

  — Proverbs 22:9

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

  — Proverbs 28:27

The Psalms of David

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

  — Psalm 9:9

The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God. But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

  — Psalm 9: 17-18

"The best way to describe who I was, what I thought, is the word hopeless."
— Richmond Wandera, Compassion alumni and founder of the Pastors Discipleship Network

"Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them."

  — Psalm 12:5

My whole being will exclaim, "Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them."

  — Psalm 35:10

With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them.

  — Psalm 109:30-31

"If you have a gift, you shouldn't sing for the world because it was given by God, not people. You must exalt him." — Bijolee Badio, sponsored child

I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.

  — Psalm 140:12

A Psalm. Of Solomon

May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

  — Psalm 72:3-4

For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.

  — Psalm 72:12-14

Praise the Lord

Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.

  — Psalm 113:5-8

Kenia Perfas has been in a race her whole life. A race against poverty, a race against illiteracy, a race against failure and neglect.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

  — Psalm 146:5-9

"God, if you exist, please take me out of this prison. I don’t want to live this life anymore. And when you get me out of prison, please get me out of poverty."
— Jey Mbiro, Compassion alumni, DJ and youth minister

Set the Oppressed Free

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

"If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

  — Isaiah 58:6-11

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

  — Isaiah 1:17

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

  — Isaiah 10:1-3

[Lord]You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.

  — Isaiah 25:4

Blessed are the Poor

Looking at his disciples, [Jesus] said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

  — Luke 6:20-21

Show Mercy and Compassion to One Another

And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: "This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

  — Zechariah 7:8-10

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

  — 1 John 3:17

Then Jesus said to his host . . . When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

  — Luke 14:14

Seek the Good of Others

"I have the right to do anything," you say—but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

  — 1 Corinthians 10: 23-24

The Year of Canceling Debts

There need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.

  — Deuteronomy 15:4-5

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need

  — Deuteronomy 15:7-8

A Togolese mother, with her daughter in her lap, sits in dark room.

Give generously to [the poor] and do so without a grudging heart, then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

  — Deuteronomy 15:10-11

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.

  — Matthew 26:6-13 [also Mark 14:1-11 and John 12:1-11]

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