Original Research

The poor in the Psalms: A variety of views

Eben H. Scheffler
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 36, No 1 | a1478 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v36i1.1478 | © 2015 Eben H. Scheffler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 May 2015 | Published: 14 December 2015

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Since the psalms are religious, poetic, existential expressions of life, entailing both extreme joy and intense suffering, it stands to reason that poverty (in its literal sense and otherwise) would receive considerable attention. Focussing on material poverty and challenging the idea of a homogeneous view on poverty (e.g. Armenfrömmigkeit) in the psalms, the diversity of views on poverty in the psalms is explored. Attention is paid to YHWH or God caring for the poor, the (Israelite) king as champion for the poor, the gods (heavenly assembly) (non)caring for the poor, caring for the poor in Zion theology, God as crusher of the poor and mutual human charity. The article concludes with some remarks regarding the possible present-day appropriation of the views in the psalms.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article challenges the traditional notion on Armenfrömmigkeit in the psalms. This is important for contexts where identifying with the poor are fed by selfish interest and actually feeds exploitation. It also propounds that various views on poverty exist, demanding creative and contextual applicable measures to combat poverty in the present-day world.


poverty, piety of the poor, Armenfroemmigkeit, exegesis, politics, hermeneutics, economics


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