|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:16,17. Believers often have enough when worldly eyes see little; the Lord is with them, without the cares, troubles, and temptations which are with the wealth of the wicked. 18. He that is slow to anger, not only prevents strife, but appeases it, if kindled. 19. Those who have no heart to their work, pretend that they cannot do their work without hardship and danger. And thus many live always in doubt about their state, because always in neglect of some duty. 20. Those who treat an aged mother or a father with contempt or neglect, show their own folly. 21. Such as are truly wise, study that their thoughts, words, and actions should be regular, sincere, and holy. 22. If men will not take time and pains to deliberate, they are not likely to bring any thing to pass. 23. Wisdom is needed to suit our discourse to the occasions. 24. A good man sets his affections on things above; his way leads directly thither.
Verse 17. - Better is a dinner (portion) of herbs where love is. A dish of vegetables would be the common meal, whereas flesh would be reserved for festive occasions. Where love presides, the simplest food is cheerfully received, and contentment and happiness abound (Proverbs 17:1). Lesetre quotes Horace's invitation to his friend Torquatus ('Epist.,' 1:5. 1) -
"Si potes Archiacis conviva recumbere lectis,
Nec modica cenare times olus omne patella,
Supreme te sole domi, Torquate, manebo."
"If, dear Torquatus, you can rest your head
On couches such as homely Archias made,
Nor on a dish of simple pot herbs frown,
I shall expect you as the sun goes down."
(Howes.) So the old jingle -
"Cum dat oluscula menes minuscula pace quieta,
Ne pete grandia lautaque prandia lite repleta." A stalled ox is one taken up out of the pasture and fatted for the table. Thus we read (1 Kings 4:23) that part of Solomon's provision for one day was ten fat oxen and twenty oxen out of the pastures; and the prophets speak of "calves of the stall" (Amos 6:4; Malachi 4:2; comp. Luke 15:23). The fat beef implies a sumptuous and magnificent entertainment; but such a feast is little worth if accompanied with feelings of hatred, jealousy, and ill will. This and the preceding verse emphasize and explain ver. 15.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Better is a dinner of herbs, where love is,.... What Plautus (i) calls "asperam et terrestrem caenam", "a harsh and earthly supper", made of what grows out of the earth; which is got without much cost or care, and dressed with little trouble; a traveller's dinner, as the word (k) signifies, and a poor one too to travel upon, such as is easily obtained, and presently cooked, and comes cheap. Now, where there are love and good nature in the host that prepares this dinner; or in a family that partakes of such an one, having no better; or among guests invited, who eat friendly together; or in the person that invites them, who receives them cheerfully, and heartily bids them welcome: such a dinner, with such circumstances, is better
than a stalled ox, and hatred therewith; than an ox kept up in the stall for fattening; or than a fatted one, which with the ancients was the principal in a grand entertainment; hence the allusion in Matthew 22:4. In the times of Homer, an ox was in high esteem at their festivals; at the feasts made by his heroes, Agamemnon, Menelaus, and Ajax, an ox was a principal part of them, if not the whole; the back of a fat ox, or a sirloin of beef, was a favourite dish (l). Indeed in some ages, both among Greeks and Romans, an ox was abstained from, through a superstitious regard to it, because so useful a creature in ploughing of the land; and it was carried so far as to suppose it to be as sinful to slay an ox as to kill a man (m): and Aratus (n) represents it as not done, neither in the golden nor silver age, but that in the brasen age men first began to kill and eat oxen; but this is to be confuted by the laws of God, Genesis 9:3; and by the examples of Abraham and others. Now if there is hatred, either in the host, or in the guests among themselves, or in a family, it must stir up strifes and contentions, and render all enjoyments unpleasant and uncomfortable; see Proverbs 17:1; but where the love of God is, which is better than life, and the richest enjoyments of it; which sweetens every mercy, and cannot be purchased with money; and secures the best of blessings, the riches of grace and glory, and itself can never be lost; where this is, the meanest diet is preferable to the richest and most costly banquets of wicked men; who are hated and abhorred by the Lord, for their oppression and injustice, their luxury, or their covetousness; for poor men may be loved of God, and the rich be abhorred by him, Psalm 10:4.
(i) Capteivei, Acts 1. Sc. 2. v. 80. &. 3. Sc. 1. v. 37. (k) "viaticum", Montanus, Amama; "commeatus", Cocceius. (l) Iliad. 7. v. 320, 321. Odyss. 4. v. 65. & 8. v. 60. Vid. Suidam in voce Virgil. Aeneid. 8. v. 182. (m) Aelian. l. 5. c. 14. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 45. (n) Phoenomena, v. 132.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. dinner—or, "allowance" (2Ki 25:30)—
of herbs—and that the plainest.
and hatred—(compare Pr 10:12, 18).
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