Various Ways of Oppressing the Poor
James 5:1-6
Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come on you.…

1. When through greatness you challenge their labours without reward, as the gentry use the peasants of many countries, "Woe be to him that useth his neighbour without wages" (Jeremiah 22:13), meaning Jehoiakim, who, in his pompous buildings used his subjects' labour without hire.

2. When you give them not a proportionate hire, working upon their necessities, for then a great part of their labour is without reward; and it is flat covetousness to "exact all your labours" (Isaiah 58:3), when your reward is scanty and short.

3. When by cunning ye defraud them of their reward, either through bad payment or crafty cavils. The Lord saith, "I will be a swift witness against those that oppress the hireling in his wages" (Malachi 3:5). So it is in the text, "by fraud kept back." God knoweth what is oppression, though veiled under crafty pretences.

4. When you diminish or change their wages, as it is said of Laban that he changed Jacob's wages ten times (Genesis 31:41).

5. When you delay payment. God commanded the Jews to do it before sunset (see Deuteronomy 24:14, 15; Leviticus 19:30). It is a maxim of the law that not to pay it at the time is to pay the less, because of the advantage of improvement; and in the text it is said, "kept back by fraud," though not wholly taken away, yet "kept back" entitled them to sin. The Lord, you know, rewardeth His servants ere they have done their work; we have much of our wages aforehand, &c.

(T. Manton.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

WEB: Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming on you.

Unsatisfactory Riches
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