Proverbs 15:16

16 1Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.

Proverbs 15:16 Meaning and Commentary

Proverbs 15:16

Better [is] little with the fear of the Lord than great
treasure and trouble therewith.
] Not that a "little" is better than "much" of that which is good, as the things of this world are in themselves; poverty is not better than riches, simply considered; but as these are attended with different circumstances: if a man has but little of worldly substance, yet if he has "the fear of God" in his heart, and before his eyes; that fear which has God for its author and for its object, and which is itself a treasure; and may be here put for all grace, for the riches of grace saints are partakers of; such a man's little is better than another man's abundance without the fear of the Lord, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it: for such a man, though he has but little, which is the common portion of good men, yet he does not lack; be has enough, and is content; what he has he has with a blessing, and he enjoys it, and God in it, and has communion with him; and has also other bread to eat, the world knows nothing of: and particularly having the fear of God, the eve of God is upon him with pleasure; his heart is towards him, and sympathizes with him in all his troubles; his hand communicates unto him both temporal and spiritual meat, which is given to them that fear the Lord; his angels encamp about him, his power protects him; his secrets are with him, and inconceivable and inexpressible goodness is laid up for him: wherefore he is better off with his little, having the fear of God, than another with his great abundance and affluence, being destitute of it: and besides, having a great deal of "trouble" along with his treasure; trouble in amassing and getting it together; trouble in keeping it from being lost, or taken away by thieves and, robbers, for fear of which he cannot sleep; trouble through an insatiable desire of having more; he has no rest nor peace because he has not so much as he would have, or others have. Besides, he has what he has with curse; God sends upon him cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all he sets his hand to, ( 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" F7; and interpret it of the cries and tears of those that are oppressed and injured; so Jarchi and Gersom; or, "with terror" F8, 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 ( Psalms 37:16 ) .


F7 (hmwhm) "tumultus", Tigurine version, Montanus, Vatablus; "strepitus", Mercerus.
F8 "Terror", Aben Ezra.

Proverbs 15:16 In-Context

14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Proverbs 16:8; Psalms 37:16; [1 Timothy 6:6]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.