(Proverbs 28:3 KJV) A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
We generally think of the rich oppressing the “poor” (7326). This points out a more realistic situation. The poor man often “oppresses” (6231) the “poor” (second use) (lowly NASB) (1800b). The KJV misses the difference here. We frequently see comparisons and contrasts of different classes of people in Proverbs. The surface issue is how much money they have. We tend to see that because we are conditioned to see that. It makes us feel more spiritual to believe that people who are wealthier than us are evil because of that. After all, I am more spiritual so they must have gained their wealth through oppression and cheating, right? Not necessarily. Usually, if you look, the issue in the Bible will not be how much money they have but how they use it.
Here we have two different words used for those at the bottom of the social scale. We find that sin rears its ugly head even for the “poor” (7326). Even though he has no money he “oppresses” (6231) someone else. What is the difference between the “poor” (7326) and the “lowly” (1800b)? Both are at the bottom but they are different qualities. They may even overlap, but they point to different situations. The poor are those who have no money. The lowly are those who are physically or emotionally weak. If sin rules in your heart, you can always find someone to attack.
Historically I think of ex-slaves who went on to own slaves. You don’t hear much about this but there were freed slaves who went on to own plantations and buy slaves to work them. It is not politically correct to bring that up, but it happened. Oppression is ultimately not based on money, race or nationality. It is based on a sinful heart that refuses to love its neighbor and its enemy.
So? Don’t fall for the class warfare based mantra about oppression. Oppression exists. But it is sin, not social status. Look at your own attitudes and relationships. Is there someone in your circle that you take advantage of? Do you treat the waitress like a child of God? Do you browbeat the clerk in the store when you are in a bad mood and know you can get away with it? Do you provoke your own children? Repent. Seek forgiveness. Change.