What does Proverbs 16:19 mean?
ESV: It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.
NIV: Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
NASB: It is better to be humble in spirit with the needy Than to divide the spoils with the proud.
CSB: Better to be lowly of spirit with the humble than to divide plunder with the proud.
NLT: Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.
KJV: Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Verse Commentary:
This verse follows the denunciation of the arrogant who reject God (Proverbs 16:18). This again notes how much more valuable spiritual riches are as compared to material wealth (Proverbs 15:16; 16:16). Poverty is especially preferable to gaining wealth by pride and immorality (Proverbs 6:12–15; Luke 12:16–21).

C. S. Lewis is credited with saying, "humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less." There's an element of truth to that, in that the goal of humility is not to have a "lower" view of ourselves. At the same time, this proverb is found near others that warn about the opposite of humility—arrogance—which comes with great risks (Proverbs 16:5, 18). True humility is often misinterpreted as weakness, but it is actually a sign of great strength. Christ's life gives us the perfect example of godly humility: He humbled himself to become our Savior. He demonstrated strength by doing the Father's will even though it meant pouring out His life on the cross for us (Philippians 2:5¬–8).

Those who humbly acknowledge their sin and believe on Jesus as their Savior receive everlasting life (John 3:16–18). Those who are too proud for repentance, so they reject Jesus as Savior, will lose everything, including their souls. Jesus asked an extremely important question: "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36). It is better to be materially poor but spiritually rich than to be materially rich but spiritually impoverished!
Verse Context:
Proverbs 16:16–26 focuses on righteousness, pride, humility, faith, speaking, and industrious labor. Again, we see the contrast between the upright and fools, as well as between diligence and laziness. Many of these proverbs come in a two-sentence style, where each presents the same idea from different directions of thought.
Chapter Summary:
This part of Solomon's proverbs emphasizes human motives, self-control, and common sense. Many of these proverbs are arranged in a two-part style. The first and second half of these statements make the same basic point, but from opposite perspectives. Notable verses are verses 9 and 33, speaking of God's sovereignty, and verse 18, a famous warning about arrogance. Also often cited is verse 25, which repeats Proverbs 14:12 and encourages self-reflection.
Chapter Context:
A lengthy list of Solomon's wise sayings began in chapter 10. Chapter 16 begins a section mostly composed of comparisons and completions. It extends to Proverbs 22:16. Man's thoughts, speech, motives, and conduct are examined in this chapter. The chapter also addresses pride, evil, and injustice.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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