Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 15:17
"Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred"
This is another of the comparison proverbs through which Solomon draws out attention to the relative value of things. He uses the Jewish technique of hyperbole to point out that even if you had excessive amounts of one thing, it would not be as good as a small this other thing. He does this to cause us to pay attention to an overlooked or neglected key to an enjoyable life. In this case he is exaggerating the money, wealth, and possessions versus the value of love. He reminds us of what we already know: Love is much more valuable because you can have tons of the things money can buy, but it does not make up for the opposite of love. But if you have lots of love, even with no money you have something special.
This is the Hebrew word ahabah, which means love, lovesick, lovingly. This word is the word that appears in the second great commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.It is a crucial word, capturing the connection between people and people and God. It is used for a variety of relationships. It is simplest to understand love as meeting needs, pursuing and pleasing the other, and then the reaction that is developed in the other when you do those things.
In the case of God, He has no needs that we can meet as whatever needs He may have are perfectly met within the limitless love of the members of the Trinity. But we can pursue Him and please Him. That is what it means to love God. That is why God is regularly admonishing us to seek Him and to please Him.
As we would want to enjoy a wonderful marriage, family, work environment, friendships, community of faith, etc., each of the people that we encounter in these arenas will have needs that we can meet, souls that can be pursued, and extra little touches that will please them. It is these actions that Solomon wants you to realize that will make or break your life and not the amount of money you have accumulated. If a great deal of money causes you to be short and angry or hateful or selfish, then you will not have an enjoyable life. On the other hand, if you are willing to meet others’ needs and pursue their mind, will, emotions, personality, creativity, love for God, conscience, etc., and do extra things for them, then you will enjoy a wonderful life even if you barely have enough to eat.
It is the life of the lover that is full and not the life of the self-absorbed taker. Every world system and culture from Solomon's day to the present wants us to believe that stuff makes the life. LOVE MAKES THE LIFE, NOT THE STUFF.