Proverbs 12:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 12:9, NIV: "Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food."

Proverbs 12:9, ESV: "Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread."

Proverbs 12:9, KJV: "He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread."

Proverbs 12:9, NASB: "Better is one who is lightly esteemed and has a servant, Than one who honors himself and lacks bread."

Proverbs 12:9, NLT: "Better to be an ordinary person with a servant than to be self-important but have no food."

Proverbs 12:9, CSB: "Better to be disregarded, yet have a servant, than to act important but have no food."

What does Proverbs 12:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Solomon extols the virtue of humility. His contrast here is both humorous and profound. It makes no sense to be arrogant when that attitude leaves you destitute. There is no shame in being humble when your humility is part of your success. In other words, is it better to "be successful" or to "appear successful"? According to passages such as this, it's better to be obscure, meek, and successful than to be a braggart whose reputation goes well beyond his actual accomplishments. The empty boaster stands in sharp contrast to the humble man, and his life is as empty as his boast.

David displayed humility. When Saul's servants told David that Saul wanted him to become his son-in-law, David replied, "Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king's son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?" (1 Samuel 18:23). Although the Lord Jesus was the Son of God, He humbled Himself and became a man (Philippians 2:8). He described Himself as "gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29).

The apostles Peter and John carried apostolic credentials but had no money to give to a beggar. Peter humbly told him, "I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6). The apostle Paul displayed humility by identifying himself as the foremost sinner (1 Timothy 1:15).