Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Trouble.—The “disquiet” (Psalm 39:6) which attends the pursuit and care of riches, in contrast to the “peace which they have who love God’s law. (Psalm 119:165.)Proverbs 15:16-17. Better is a little with the fear of the Lord — Which gives a man tranquillity and comfort in what he hath; than great treasure and trouble therewith — Tumultuous lusts and passions, vexatious cares and fears, horrors of conscience, and expectations of God’s wrath and indignation. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is — True friendship and kindness between those that eat together; than a stalled ox and hatred therewith — Than the most sumptuous entertainment by him that hates us, or among those that quarrel and contend. “Stalled oxen, or oxen fatted in a stall, were looked upon as the highest entertainment in those ancient times. It is remarkable that Homer never sets any other repast than this before his heroes.”Matthew 6:33. The fear of the Lord, which gives a man tranquillity and comfort in what he hath.
Trouble; tumultuous lusts and passions, vexatious cares and fears, horrors of conscience, and expectation of God’s curse and judgment, which riches gotten without God’s fear do commonly produce. Deuteronomy 28:2; where the same word is used as here: and he has it also with the cry of the poor; so some render the word, "a noise" or "tumult" (g); and interpret it of the cries and tears of those that are oppressed and injured; so Jarchi and Gersom; or, "with terror" (h), as some render it; with the terrors of a guilty conscience, with the fear of hell and everlasting damnation. Better have a little with a good conscience, than ever so much attended with such circumstances; it is not any man's little, but the good man's little, that is preferable to the wicked man's much; see Psalm 37:16. Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 16. - Better is little with the fear of the Lord. The good man's little store, which bears upon it the blessing of the Lord, is better than great treasure and trouble therewith, i.e. with the treasure (Proverbs 16:8; Psalm 37:16). The trouble intended is the care and labour and anxiety attending the pursuit and preservation of wealth. "Much coin, much care" (comp. Ecclesiastes 6:4). It was good advice of the old moralist, "Sis pauper honeste potius quam dives male; Namque hoc fert crimen, illud misericordiam." Vulgate, thesauri magni et insatiabiles, "treasures which satisfy not;" Septuagint, "Great treasures without fear (of the Lord)." Christ's maxim is, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
Whoever hateth instruction shall die.
The way, thus absolute, is the God-pleasing right way (Proverbs 2:13), the forsaking of which is visited with the punishment of death, because it is that which leadeth unto life (Proverbs 10:17). And that which comes upon them who leave it is called מוּסר רע, castigatio dura, as much as to say that whoever does not welcome instruction, whoever rejects it, must at last receive it against his will in the form of peremptory punishment. The sharp correction (cf. Isaiah 28:28, Isaiah 28:19) is just the death under which he falls who accepts of no instruction (Proverbs 5:23), temporal death, but that as a token of wrath which it is not for the righteous (Proverbs 14:32).
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