Wise Words From the Book of Proverbs

Better a dinner of herbs where love is than a stalled ox and hatred therewith

Proverbs 15. 17

Which of us has not preferred a simple meal with good companions to a feast with those with whom we do not get on? The force of this proverb is that a happy loving relationship, though it may not be wealthy, is more desirable to wealth and ostentation where there is hatred. One doesn’t have to be wealthy to be happy, though no doubt many would like to be better off than they are. Riches do not bring happiness; in fact, neither do they bring lasting love and companions, as the prodigal son himself discovered. Only the other day there was a report of a lottery winner who had turned to drugs. The man, who was 38 years old at the time and his 36 year old wife had won £5.4 million. Yet, young and wealthy though he had become, he turned to drugs to cope with the pressures of becoming and overnight millionaire.

The stresses led to his wife walking out on him and his two young children having to move schools. Magistrates in Sheffield gave him a two-year conditional discharge and two weeks to pay £50.00 costs. His lawyer said, ‘If he still lived on the council estate like an ordinary family with 2.4 children, he would not have received the same media attention that he has today. His life has been made intensely difficult’. How devastated his wife must have felt when family life, love and companionship was replaced with wealth and stress; and who could blame her is she wished the old days back again? The word of God, from which this proverb is taken, is far from being out-of-date as a commentary on society and a source of wisdom for us today. In fact, it is extremely relevant, for though our circumstances and cultures may change, the heart of man is essentially the same. After all, were we to paraphrase the proverb and say, ‘A ploughman’s lunch with friends is better than a Sunday roast with our enemies’ who could disagree? Let us be thankful with what we have, though it be little.