Day 17: The quiet life (17:1)
“Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife”
It would be somewhat dishonest to encapsulate the many profound and different thoughts in what we know are artificial demarcations, i.e. chapters of the Bible, under a single heading, but one recurring Ch.17 theme is the agreeableness of a quiet and peaceful life. Again, Solomon masterfully used powerful illustrations to make an important point. In our text, it is about how much better it is to eat a very basic diet and have a life of contented peace than one where one can eat great food at banquets, but there is strife and aggravation. There is something to be said too for applying the maxim “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1Timothy 6:6). Peace (completeness, soundness, welfare) (Hebrew: shalom) is important to have, occurring 237 times in the OT, and was how YHWH wanted to bless his people. It is seen in the blessing: “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee … and give thee peace” Numbers 6:24-26. We do well to follow the counsel: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14. Also relevant is that the coming Messiah is called “The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:7) and God “wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Also “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee” (3:2).
A further observation about the desirability of peace is our attitude, especially when wronged by others, by our not stirring up trouble when it is easy to do so and being a calming influence in situations when peace is needed and which complements Jesus’ “blessed are the peacemakers” teaching: “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends … The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with” (17:9,14). One could also add “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool” (17:10) and the sort of priorities a peaceful person has: “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble” (17:17 – the Message). The chapter ends with an astute observation: “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (17:27,28).
Prayer: We thank you that blessed are the peacemakers. Make me a channel of your peace; where there is hatred, let me bring your love.