13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. 14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. 15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. 16 Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. 17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred. 18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. (Prov. 15:13-18 NIV)
13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit.
V13-15 speak of a happy, discerning and cheerful heart. It is the presence of wisdom and knowledge that brings the heart to these states. When the heart is happy it is expressed by a cheerful face. It shows that we are controlled by what is inside us rather than that which is on the outside. We can’t deny that outwards circumstances can and do influence our feelings, but more significant by far for determining our reactions is that internal state of peace and rest that we have in Christ. When the heart aches it can crush our spirit. This can be quite a debilitating feeling. The point is that it is the inner response to life that determines how we feel and how we respond. We ought to guard the heart.
14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
The contrast here is sharpened by the two verbs ‘seeks’ and ‘feeds’. The discerning heart wisely explores and desires further knowledge but the fool feeds, just like the munching of wild animals. The discerning heart is already wise but yet it continues to seek to grow in knowledge and understanding. The wise are satisfied with knowledge but the fool continues to feed on folly.
15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched,
but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
The oppressed here are the foolish who have, by their neglect of wisdom, brought oppression upon themselves. Those who have sought wisdom have a cheerful heart and enjoy a perpetual feast.
16 Better a little with the fear of the LORD
than great wealth with turmoil.
The fear of the Lord is the great prize. Better to have little of this world’s goods and fear the Lord than to have an abundance of possessions with the turmoil of life that the life of folly brings. The ‘little’ need not mean deprivation. Whatever amount of wealth one has, it is always little compared to having the fear of the Lord.
17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.
A dish of vegetables would be the normal meal for the average worker. This portion with love is better than a rich feast surrounded by hatred. The way of love is the wise way and the way of hatred is the foolish way.
18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
A hot temper is usually manifest in the intemperate use of words. The words spoken are seldom wise and they create further problems. A patient and gentle response can take the heat out of a bad quarrel. The way of the wise is the way of peace.
Father we thank You that You have caused us to want to do things Your way. We thank You that You have given us the joy of sins forgiven in our hearts. Help us to have grateful hearts for all the blessings that You have given us because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.