Proverbs 22:7; Deuteronomy 28:12; Deuteronomy 15:5,6
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow…Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day. For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.
H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): The matter of debt should be of greater concern among Christians.
CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Such obligations as that of the borrower to the lender, often force the dependant to a servile bondage…Often also the influence of capital is an iron rule of the rich over the poor. Many, who profess to resist conscientiously state-interference, have little regard for the consciences of their dependants.
H. A. IRONSIDE: The rich almost invariably lord their position over the poor, except where grace intervenes to check the potential pride of the human heart. Therefore it is natural that he who lends should consider himself superior to the borrower. The borrower destroys his own freedom by his neglect of the divine command―he who obeys the Scriptural injunction to “owe no man any thing, but to love one another,” Romans 13:8, will escape the awful bondage of the debtor.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): A borrower is another name for a beggar.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Some sell their liberty to gratify their luxury.
WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): This disease is prevalent in the community―If at the first they took borrowed money, as they might take opium, as a medicine to relieve an acute disease which would not yield to other means, they chew it now every day and all day, as the staff of their life―they count debt their element; they live in it; they do not expect to get out of it; they scarcely wish―at least, they never energetically strive to get out.
C. H. SPURGEON: The Bible never tells us to get out of debt; it tells us we are not to have any.
MATTHEW HENRY: To be able to lend, and not to have need to borrow, we must look upon as a great mercy―Therefore it is part of Israel’s promised happiness that they should lend and not borrow. And it should be our endeavour to keep as much as may be, out of debt.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Now I say that this is something that is absolutely vital for us as a starting point. This is true of nations, it’s true of classes, it’s true of individuals. And surely there is nothing that is quite so pathetic, as the way in which people think along one line when they’re thinking of nations, and along another line when they’re thinking of individuals.
MATTHEW HENRY: “Thou shalt lend to many nations”―upon interest―which they were allowed to take from the neighbouring nations―“but thou shalt not have occasion to borrow.” This would give them great influence with all about them; for the borrower is servant to the lender. It may be meant of trade and commerce, that they should export abundantly more than they should import, which would keep the balance on their side.
WILLIAM ARNOT: We are met here by the old cry, that business cannot be conducted at all if these principles are closely insisted on.
C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): We do not enter into the question as to how far persons engaged in trade can carry out this holy and happy rule. There are certain terms―such as “cash in a month,” or the like, and so long as these terms are observed, it may be questioned how far one is actually in debt.
WILLIAM ARNOT: In some cases it may be right to borrow, and in others it is certainly wrong.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The magnitude of our National Debt is a frequent topic of conversation. We have, indeed, but an indistinct idea of a number not very far short of two hundred millions; yet we can form some conception of it…What is commonly called our National Debt, is swelled to an enormous greatness. It may be quickly expressed in figures; but a person must be something well versed in calculation to form a tolerable idea of accumulated millions.*
C. H. SPURGEON: We know many persons who are always doing a great deal and yet do nothing—just before a general election there is a manifestation of most remarkable men—generally persons who know everything and a few things besides, who, if they could but be sent to Parliament, would turn the whole world upside down and put even pandemonium to rights! They would pay the National Debt within six months and do any other trifle that might occur to them.
JOHN NEWTON: Some people are startled at the enormous sum of our National Debt: they who understand spiritual arithmetic may be well startled if they sit down and compute the debt of national sin…But what arithmetic is sufficient to compute the immensity of our national debt in a spiritual sense? or, in other words, the amount of our national sins? The spirit of infidelity―like a river―which was restrained within narrow bounds, has of late years broken down its banks, and deluged the land. This wide-spreading evil has, in innumerable instances, as might be expected, emboldened the natural heart against the fear of God, hardened it to an insensibility of moral obligation, and strengthened its prejudices against the Gospel. The consequence has been, that profligate wickedness has become almost as universal as the air we breathe; and is practiced with little more reserve or secrecy than the transactions of common business.
JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): It is an observation of Benjamin Franklin, “that one vice costs more to keep, than two children.” True piety is the most economical thing in the world—and sin the most expensive thing in the world. How much do the drunkard, debauchee, and frequenter of theaters—pay for their sinful gratifications! What is spent in this nation every year in the grosser sensual indulgences, would pay the remainder of the National Debt. Piety would save all this to the nation.
C. H. SPURGEON: Lying pays no tax. The more’s the pity. It might bring in enough to pay the National Debt.
JOHN NEWTON: Proverbs 14:34. There I read that “righteousness exalteth a nation, and that sin is a reproach,” and if persisted in, the ruin of any people.
EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): National judgments are always the consequence of national sins.
*Editor’s Note: In John Newton’s day, a British National Debt of £200,000,000 represents a modern equivalent of about $70 billion in 2017 US dollars. However, in 2017, the actual US National Debt is $21 trillion―an amount of financial debt 300 times greater than that which concerned John Newton. This US National Debt, as well as its spiritual component, grows higher every single second, while the inevitable day of reckoning draws ever closer. It takes time for great nations to destroy themselves with the accumulated interest of continued folly; but time is all that it takes.