Deuteronomy 15:4 says that “there will be no poor among you,” and Deuteronomy 15:11 says “there will never cease to be poor in the land.”
One way to understand this is to accept that God’s promise of abundance is conditional on their obedience. As Moses is fully aware that the people will never completely obey, he knows there will always be poor. I think this is a little dangerous, because I can easily see proponents of the prosperity gospel grabbing onto it. “Those that followed the law would prosper, those that failed to keep up their end of the covenant would be poor.”
I’m not saying that’s a necessary conclusion from this position, but I do believe it’s a logical one and therefore caution must be exercised when teaching it that way. (I’m not sure I’ve ever actually had it taught, though…)
Another way to understand it is to view the nation as a whole. God promises an obedient nation will prosper. God commands them to give willingly, generously, as part of that covenant. They are to provide for each other, to share the blessing out among themselves. If they do that well, the poor that will always be will have their needs met, will be blessed, will not truly be poor because they will be loved and accepted and supported.
Why the poor were poor was never questioned. No one was instructed to assess the worthiness of the those seeking aid.
It seems pretty simple, really.
Yeah, yeah. Life is never simple. There are always a hundred factors to take into consideration. You have to be wise. You have to be careful. You don’t want to inadvertently support a dangerous lifestyle. You have to be safe. You have take care of you own family, plan for the future.
Yeah. Still. It seems pretty simple in Scripture. Be generous. Give freely. You’ve been blessed: be a blessing.