It is better to be lowly in spirit with the afflicted
than to share the spoils with the proud.
The one who deals wisely in a matter will find success,
and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
If you thought there was a lot of war now, I think you’d be surprised by how much there was when this proverb was written. War was often a constant. It doesn’t take much reading in the Old Testament to understand that war was a regular part of life. There weren’t democracies back then, just kingdoms. I guess there could have been a democracy around somewhere, but it wasn’t the norm. In fact, it isn’t the norm now either.
But, with all the kingdoms that existed, there was a constant war that was going on. Kings would get proud and arrogant. Their kingdoms were never big enough. They never had enough people under their rule, enough riches in their coffers or enough acres in their fences. Since, they always needed more, many of them developed a habit of taking whatever they wanted. All the possessions that anyone in the kingdom had belonged to the king because it was his kingdom.
It seems as though Kingdoms were the vehicle through which kings compensated for things they lacked as men. They had kingdom envy. They were the way these men proved just how manly they were. Every war they won proved to their kingdom and other kingdoms that they were bigger and better than you.
With war comes plunder. When you kill off another kingdom, you steal all the stuff they had and take it for yourself. Then you would bring it back to the kingdom and make the king richer.
I don’t think God likes war. I know God hates pride. And since pride is one of, if not the root cause of war, I think it’s safe to say that God hates war. If for no other reason than the pain, suffering and death it brings on His creation. And since, peace is a pretty common word in the New Testament, and the Gospel is described as the gospel of peace, I would say that God wants us to be at peace with one another.
How do we find peace? Is it through pride or through humility? Can you be at peace with others if you constantly think you are better than they are? No. You will be like the kings of old. You will constantly have to prove that you are better than everyone else, and in so doing, isolate yourself from everyone and everything. Can you be at peace with others if your insecurities drive your actions? No. You will be like many of the rulers of our day. They are insecure in certain areas of their lives so they have to oppress others in order to try to lift themselves up.
It’s better to be humble. Always. Don’t be like the kings who compensated for their own personal, internal lack by destroying others around you. Instead, recognize we all have something we lack and that is what should keep us humble. If we were all humble there would be no need for pride.
The reason for pride is because we someone else who is proud and boasts about themselves, so we think we have to keep up with them. Your kingdom will never be big enough to make up for the internal lack that you feel. That’s the point. We all lack. We are all imperfect. Even Solomon, who wrote down all these proverbs, was an idiot about a lot of things. We will never have a big enough kingdom, or belittle enough people to truly make ourselves feel better. We only feel worse because of the lengths to which our depravity takes us.
Be careful not to think that this idea doesn’t apply to us. We are in the process of building our own kingdoms and we are constantly envious of the kingdoms others have built around themselves. We just don’t call them kingdoms, we call them houses, cars, savings accounts, 401(k)’s and IRA’s.
Build the kingdom of God, trust in the Lord and you will be blessed. His kingdom is greater and He is the only king whose kingdom isn’t being built because of His insecurities. That makes Him the only king worth serving.
Better to be humble with the oppressed than to share in what is stolen from the oppressed by the proud.