Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns,
but the path of the upright is a level highway.
We missed 14 in yesterday's Note. The force of the contrast it makes lies in the verbs 'seeketh' and 'feedeth'. There is a purposefulness about the first whereas the second suggests random nibbling (cf 2 Timothy 3:7). There is no doubt about the sense of direction that the possession of wisdom and understanding give to a man, compared with the aimless and feckless course leading nowhere - of the foolish. On 16 and 17, one commentator gives the following: 'The one who has found his joy in the Lord can well understand the dear old saint who spread upon his humble board a bit of bread, an onion, and a glass of water, and then joyfully thanked God for 'all this and Jesus'. Better, far better, is it to have little on earth, and to know Him and abide in His fear, than to have great treasures and varied luxuries, coupled with trouble and hatred.' The point in 18, Kidner maintains, is that quarrels depend on people far more than on subject matter, and he quotes a description of the 'peacemakers' in Christ's Beatitude as those 'who carry about with them an atmosphere in which quarrels die a natural death'. The RSV renders 19 as 'The way of the sluggard is overgrown with thorns', a reminder that the lazy way often proves more difficult and troublesome than is realised. The contrast between the sluggard and the righteous seems to suggest that laziness has traces of unrighteousness and even dishonesty in it. It is a form of self-indulgence that makes trustworthiness a very debatable point.