Proverbs 17:1

Peace is Better than Strife

Introduction:

1. This is yet another “better than” proverb.

2. Just in chapter 16 we saw several: 16:8, 16, 19, 32.

3. Here Solomon speaks of the fact that peace is better than strife… which seems quite obvious… but sometimes obtaining peace requires a trade off.

1a Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith

1. In life there are many trade offs.

a. You may want to join a basketball team, but since they practice on Wednesday nights, so you would have to give up prayer meeting. You have to choose: which is better?

b. You want to take that job promotion with more pay, but it means working in the plant 15 miles further down the highway. You have to choose: which is better? (trade off: miles and time for money)

c. Sometimes it is a difficult choice to decide which is better.

d. Proverbs gives us quite a few trade offs and he TELLS us which one is better.

e. Solomon speaks of a trade off in this verse. The issues considered are peace vs. strife and poverty vs. prosperity—and the trade off that may be required.

2. Quietness Defined:

a. Strong’s: ease; quiet; relief; i.e., a state or condition of satisfaction in one’s circumstances in life.

b. Zodhiates: It depicts a state and attitude of peacefulness and enjoyment between friends or family; tranquility.

3. Solomon is relating this peace and tranquility to the HOME.

a. There OUGHT to be peace at home… rest for weary souls.

b. Home ought to be an oasis from all the troubles and trials of everyday life.

c. The husband should genuinely LOVE his wife… willing to sacrifice himself for her.

d. The wife should love her husband and submit—no arguments about it.

e. The children should obey their parents in all things and bring joy and delight into the home.

f. That’s the way a Christian home OUGHT to be. Unfortunately, our homes aren’t always what they ought to be… and strife and fighting often disturb the peace and joy of home life.

g. The IDEAL home is where quietness reigns… peace rules… because Christ is LORD. We should strive for that ideal.

h. Psa. 128:1-4 – a picture of a happy home… where peace rules. Idyllic!

4. There is another IDEAL situation hinted at in this proverb.

a. A home where there is a FEAST to be enjoyed every day.

b. A house full of sacrifices = the feast that accompanies many sacrifices offered to the Lord.
• Some portions of the sacrifices were taken home and the meat was eaten…
• If the home was prosperous and many sacrifices offered, then there would be FULL of sacrifices and there would be a feast.
• It speaks of a household that is well off financially.

c. That’s the ideal: A happy, peaceful home that also prospers and feasts sumptuously and prospers physically.

d. Who wouldn’t want that?

e. All things being equal, nobody in their right mind would opt for poverty over prosperity!
• Just like no one would choose to be sick over being healthy!
• Or no one would choose to be persecuted over living peacefully in the land.
• No one would choose to have an accident… or a fire… or a flood… or to be the victim of a robbery.
• No one would choose war over peace.
• God does use adverse circumstances in our lives for good. Sometimes God knows that it is just what we needed.
• But no sane person would OPT for those tragic circumstances.
• If God sends them, then praise the Lord. He means it for good.
• There is no intrinsic value to suffering just for the sake of suffering.
• Its only value lies in God’s design and purpose behind it. Otherwise, we should all cut off our limbs and try to come in contact with those nasty viruses out there.

f. The ideal is to be happy, peaceful, and prosperous.
• In fact, we are told to pray for that! (I Tim. 2:1-2)
• John’s prayer was that they would be in good health and prosper. (III John 2) Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health.
• The ideal would be that we could all be healthy, wealthy, and wise and live happily ever after.

5. But as we are all aware, we don’t live in an ideal world.

a. We live in a sin cursed world.

b. Sometimes God allows trials and tragedies to strike… and He means it for our good.

c. God uses calamities (evil things) for His good purpose.

d. We all want to be healthy, but sometimes sickness sets in.

e. We all want to have enough money to pay our bills and live comfortably, but sometimes financial problems set in.

f. We all want to experience peace in our homes, but sometimes strife sets in.

g. And sometimes those various factions interact with each other: health, finances, tragedies can put additional stress on an individual or a family…

h. And that can result in the peace being replaced by strife.

i. So sometimes we face situations where we have to make a choice between competing factors… where it becomes evident that it is an either/or situation.

j. We have to make a trade off of one thing for another.

k. This is precisely the situation Solomon describes in this proverb.

6. BETTER:

a. Better: An adjective meaning good, well-pleasing, fruitful, morally correct, proper, convenient.

b. This is a comparative term… one thing is better than another.

c. Eating a poor man’s meal (a dry morsel) with peace is BETTER than the alternate: a rich man’s feast (leftovers from the many sacrifices he could afford) with strife.

d. Note also, that this is not the BEST.
• The best here would be to have the good meal AND peace.
• The best would be to live in an ideal world.
• The best would be for the family to be spiritually-minded, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful… continually praising God. (Sort of like heaven!) That’s the ideal… the best.
• Unfortunately, the best is usually not available in this life.

e. But given only the two possibilities mentioned in this proverb, one is clearly BETTER than the other.

f. It is BETTER to have a dry morsel with quietness.

g. Prov. 15:16 – better is a little with the fear of the Lord…

h. Prov. 15:17 – better is a dinner of herbs with love…

7. The alternative: a house full of sacrifices with strife.

a. Again, the house full of sacrifices is a way of describing a well to do household financially.

b. There are a lot of wealthy households in our county… but they are not all happy homes.

c. Often WITH great wealth and prosperity comes STRIFE.

d. The wealthy fight with their relatives over inheritances…

e. They live in a high-pressure environment… many things to worry about… which often causes stress and strife.

f. II Tim. 6:9-10 – Making the pursuit of wealth your goal in life usually leads to destruction and many sorrows.

g. If pursing wealth comes with a price tag of a life of strife, it’s not worth it!

This is not a healthy and happy alternative.

h. The meal of dry morsels is better!

i. Choosing the way of the feast (prosperity) might SEEM better, BUT there are often strings attached.
• It may be the way to prosperity, but not the way to peace and rest.
• There may be financial gain, but spiritual loss.
• The alternative isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.
• Many a wealthy man living in the lap of luxury has looked at the poor man eating his dry morsel in a happy home with ENVY… wishing he could trade places.

8. Two applications:

a. When comparing YOUR situation to others. (To royalty!)
• When we compare our situation to others (say we don’t have much wealth)—it is easy to become discontent.
• We begin to look at their large estate, their fancy cars, and all the toys they have… and we might become jealous.
• We might begin to think that if we had all that, we would be happy!
• What we are unable to see is behind the doors of those homes. They are not always happy homes. Sometimes they are full of strife.
• When we compare our dry morsels to their sumptuous feasts… we are not seeing the whole picture.
• Solomon warns here that there is often a trade off for that prosperity.
• Sometimes, the trade off is quietness… tranquility in the home… restful hearts… peace…
• If you have to make that trade off in order to achieve the life of feasting, it’s not worth it.
• This proverb can be of great comfort to that believer who begins to look longingly and with a bit of jealousy at his wealthy neighbor.
• Solomon’s words of comfort: if you’ve got peace and quietness in your house—you have that which is BETTER!
• Don’t trade places for anything!
• Hopefully this will prevent us from making a foolish move… in trying to trade places.

b. When making a decision for YOUR situation.
• There are other situations where this same principle would be valuable: when facing an either/or situation where you have to make a CHOICE.
• No family wants to go without. No family wants to be in a place where they can’t afford to buy the things they need and pay the bills. And who doesn’t want to be able to go on vacation? (rent a cottage; play golf)
• But if maintaining a standard of living results in the need for working two jobs or more hours (etc.)… and that in turn results in stress and strife at home… the dry morsel is BETTER!

9. And if you stop and THINK about it, of course this is true!

a. STRIFE ruins a meal!
• Consider the Corinthians. The strife and divisions RUINED their meal… the Lord’s Table!
• Paul rebuked them for this.
• Strife ruins a meal in the home too.

b. Naturally we want our lives to be “comfortable.”

c. Too often we associate a comfortable life with having money.

d. But are you really more comfortable living in an environment of hatred, trouble, and strife? (Even if you have a million dollar Persian rug on the floor and a Van Gogh on the wall?

e. Wealth and festive foods might SEEM to provide comfort… but the comfort is RUINED with hatred and strife.

f. If you REALLY want to have a comfortable life… then put relationships above all these other “things.”

g. Learn to get along with one another… love one another… cease from strife…

h. If maintaining your lifestyle results in stress and strife… then living in a little shack on Walden Pond would be preferable… simplify!

i. Psalm 133:1 – how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
• If raising one’s standard of living destroys that… it’s not worth it.
• If working two jobs… or having mom and dad work two jobs destroys the quietness and peace in the home… then it’s not worth it.
• We don’t live in an ideal world and don’t always have the luxury of always choosing that which is best or ideal.
• In the real world we often have to make difficult choices… and those choices often come with strings attached… and require trade offs.
• Solomon gives his inspired advice here on one particular KIND of choice.
• A dry morsel, and quietness therewith, is BETTER than an house full of sacrifices with strife.