Proverbs 16:19
It is better to be lowly in spirit among the humble than to divide the spoil with the proud.
The Character and Conduct of the Lowly Under AfflictionT. Boston.Proverbs 16:19
The Divine Justice in Respect to the Wise and FoolsE. Johnson Proverbs 16:16-26
Pride and HumilityW. Clarkson Proverbs 16:18, 19
We see the moral order of God revealed in the character and life of men in various ways. Their conduct has a good or evil effect on themselves, on their fellows, and is exposed to Divine judgment. Let us take these in their order.


1. Wisdom is enriching (ver. 16). To acquire it is better than ordinary wealth (Proverbs 3:14; Proverbs 8:10, 11, 19).

2. Rectitude is safety (ver. 17). It is a levelled and an even way, the way of the honest and good man; not, indeed, always to his own feeling, but in the highest view, "He that treads it, trusting surely to the right, shall find before his journey closes he is close upon the shining table lands to which our God himself is Sun and Noon." The only true way of self-preservation is the way of right.

3. The truth of contrast (ver. 18). Pride foretells ruin; the haughty spirit, overthrow and destruction (Proverbs 15:25, 33). The thunderbolts strike the lofty summits, and leave unharmed the kneeling vale; shiver the oak, and pass harmless over the drooping flower. We are ever safe upon our knees, or in the attitude of prayer. A second contrast appears in ver. 19. The holy life with scant fare better than a proud fortune erected on unjust gains,

"He that is down need fear no fall; He that is low, no pride."

4. The effect of religious principle (ver. 20). We need constantly to carry all conduct into this highest light, or trace it to this deepest root. Piety here includes two things:

(1) obedience to positive command;

(2) living trust in the personal God.

Happiness and salvation are the fruit. "I have had many things in my hands, and have lost them all. Whatever I have been able to place in God's hands, I still possess" (Luther).


1. The good man is pleasing to others (vers. 21, 24). There is a grace on his lips, a charm in his conversation, in a "speech alway with grace, seasoned with salt." How gladly men listened to our great Exemplar, both in public and in private! Thus, too, the good man sweetens instruction, and furthers its willing reception in the mind of his listeners.

2. He earns a good reputation for sense, discretion, prudence (vers. 21, 22). And this not only adds to his own happiness (for we cannot be happy without the good will of our fellows), but it gives weight to his teaching (ver. 23). The teacher can produce little effect whose words stand not out in relief from the background of character. The true emphasis is supplied by the life.

3. The contrast (ver. 22). The folly of fools is self-chastising. The fool makes himself disagreeable to others; even if he chances upon a sound word or right action, it is devoid of the value and weight which only character can give. He incurs prejudice and opposition on every hand, sows thorns in his own path, and invites his own destruction.

III. THE PRINCIPLE OF DIVINE JUDGMENT IN ALL. Every one of these effects marks in its way the expression of the Divine will, the laws of a Divine order. But, above all, the end determines the value of choice and the quality of life. The great distinction between the seeming and the real is the distinction between facts as they appear in the light of our passions, our wishes, our lusts, our various illusions and self-deceptions, and facts as they are in the clear daylight of eternal truth and a judgment which cannot err (ver. 25). To guard against the fatal illusions that beset us, we should ask:

1. Is this course of conduct according to the definite rules of conduct as they are laid down in God's Word?

2. Is it according to the best examples of piety? Above all, is it Christ-like, God-like? - J.

Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
There is a generation of lowly afflicted ones, having their spirit lowered and brought down to their lot, whose case, in that respect, is better than that of the proud getting their will, and carrying all to their mind.

1. There is a generation of lowly afflicted ones in the world, as bad as the world is. They are in this world, where the state of trial is.

2. If it were not so, Christ, as He was in the world, would have no followers in it.

3. Nevertheless, they are very rare in this world. Many a high-bonded spirit keeps on the bend in spite of lowering circumstances.

4. They can be no more in number than the truly godly. To bring the spirit truly to a low and crossed lot must be the effect of humbling grace.

5. A lowly disposition of soul, and habitual aim and bent of the heart that way, has a very favourable construction put upon it in heaven. Enter into particulars of the character of the lowly. There is a yoke of affliction, of one kind or other, oftentimes upon them. There is a particular yoke of affliction, which God has chosen for them, that hangs about them, and is seldom, if ever, off them. That is their special trial, the crook in their lot. They think soberly and meanly of themselves, but highly and honourably of God. They think favourably of others, as far as in justice they may. They are sunk down into a state of subordination to God's will. They are not bent on high things, but disposed to stoop to low things. They are apt to magnify mercies bestowed on them.Consider the generation of the proud, getting their will, and carrying all to their mind.

1. There are crosses in their lot. Sin has turned the world from a paradise to a thicket; there is no getting through without being scratched. The pride of the heart exposes them particularly to crosses. They have an over-value for themselves. Men are bigger in their own conceit than they are indeed. They have an unmortified self-will. They have a crowd of unsubdued passions taking part with the self-will. But a holy God crosses the self-will of the proud creatures by His providence, over-ruling and disposing of things contrary to their inclination. Getting their will, and carrying all to their mind, tells of holy Providence yielding to the man's unmortified self-will, and letting it go according to his mind; it tells also of the lust remaining in its strength and vigour; of the cross removed; and of the man's pleasure in having carried his point.Confirm the doctrine of the text, that the case of the former is better than that of the latter.

1. Humility is a piece of the image of God. Pride is the masterpiece of the image of the devil.

2. Humility and lowliness of spirit qualify us for friendly communion and intercourse with God in Christ. Pride makes God our enemy.

3. Humility is a duty pleasing to God, pride a sin pleasing to the devil. Those whose spirits are brought down to their afflicted lot have quiet and repose of mind. This is a great blessing, upon which the comfort of life depends. Our whole trouble in our lot ariseth from the disagreement of our mind therewith. The proud can but make a better condition in outward things; but humility makes a better man; and the man is more valuable than all external conveniences that attend him.

(T. Boston.)

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