Proverbs 15:17

ESV Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
NIV Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.
NASB Better is a portion of vegetables where there is love, Than a fattened ox served with hatred.
CSB Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened ox with hatred.
NLT A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate.
KJV Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

What does Proverbs 15:17 mean?

Here, again, Scripture points out that earthly circumstances don't define happiness nearly so strongly as spiritual perspective. The contrast in meals is between something simple—even bland—versus a rich, luxurious feast. And yet, merely having extravagant food does not make a person happy. Love and fellowship make all the difference, even in meager situations.

This principle applies especially to marriages. Many couples learn the hard way that possessions do not bring happiness and peace to a relationship. A husband and wife may become rich enough to dine at exquisite restaurants, live in a huge house, buy expensive furnishings, and drive luxury cars. And yet, if they despise each other, their luxurious life will feel like a torture chamber.

Solomon teaches that it is better for a couple to live in loving harmony with meager possessions and simple meals than to be surrounded with luxury and eat expensive cuts of meat while despising each other. In modern terms, a meal of plain bread and water, eaten with those we love, is more satisfying than a steak dinner among those who hate each other. This echoes prior proverbs which emphasize the importance of perspective (Proverbs 15:13–16).
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