It warns against wrongly judging against the poor in a lawsuit; it commanded ancient Israel to leave some of the crop in the field for the benefit of the poor or of travelers.
Scripture says families should support their poor relatives and reminds us that oppression of the poor is an insult to man's Creator.
The prophet Isaiah called for religious observance not as a show of piety but "to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free ... ." The prophet Amos pronounced curses on those "who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end."
In the New Testament, much the same is true. Jesus said rather than having a social circle of one's peers, we should entertain the poor and disabled. The Apostle James said one element of pure religion is to look after widows and orphans, and that wishing the poor well without addressing their needs was evidence of a dead faith.
But what about the poor themselves? What are their obligations?
Many a scriptural imperative addresses factors that contribute to poverty, at least in the western world. The twin mandates of chastity and monogamy would nearly erase fatherlessness. Sobriety, honesty and diligence would each knock down some of the barriers to prosperity.
One other obligation of low-income people in the United States is to recognize that their experience of poverty, with rare and extreme exceptions, is vastly different from that of the poor in other parts of the globe.
An American family of four can have an income of $22,350 and still be defined as poor. Recent findings show that most households defined as poor have many of the same conveniences - air conditioning, automobiles, computers, cell phones, electronic entertainment systems - as richer households. Government programs and private charities offer innumerable aids to alleviate hunger, homelessness and other plights of the poor in our homeland.
Even when unable to provide for themselves, most people who live in this nation are essentially rich by comparison to the more than 2 billion truly destitute people around the world.
Ideally, such a realization would eventually position a poor American to change his circumstances - not only to enjoy a better life for himself and his family, but to be able to help alleviate other people's sufferings.
What a magnificent way to fulfill one of the best-known biblical mandates of all - to love one's neighbor as oneself!