“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Rich and Poor
Not all poor people are humble. Not all rich people are proud. We should never jump to conclusions and assume that just because a man is poor he is humble, or prideful if he is rich.
That being said, today’s proverb addresses the heart of man, and that heart is usually more proud when he is rich, humble when he is poor. For instance, the people who blew their horn at my wife and I, as we sat at a stop sign and couldn’t go anywhere, were in a big Cadillac Escalade. They honked at us, but we didn’t honk at the little old lady in front of us who couldn’t decide where to go. (That actually happened just a few moments before writing this)
Riches and Poverty
This proverb also addresses the misconception that wealth is better than poverty. Sure, to have more money and possessions can be a great blessing, but it can also be a curse far worse than being destitute.
This verse also addresses the misguided belief that “the one with the most” wins. Many only have “the most” because they have taken advantage of those who have little.
The NIV translates this verse, “Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” It might not always be the poor and rich we’re talking about, but the oppressed and the oppressors. Either way, the one who is worse off in God’s eyes is the one who sits with those who have become wealthy by taking from others, and is proud of it.
Let us consider Proverbs 16:19 as we observe the words of the Apostle Paul…
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13 ESV
Ultimately, it’s better to have nothing and a humble heart, than have everything and be at odds with our God.
(I hope the horn on that Escalade breaks and starts blowing when they’re behind a State Trooper)