Proverbs 17:1-5
Prov 17:1 (KJB)
Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.
Morsel - A small piece
Quietness - To be at ease or peaceable
This verse continues a previous theme and that it is better to live in a situation of having less, which is illustrated by the morsel and have a peaceful, tranquil existence. The result of wisdom will have such a result and it is always welcome in such a world of anxiety. The house full of sacrifices points to the fact that the sacrifices under the Mosaic system were mainly of meat animals. So here again we see that an abundance of things which can cause much strife in a family. It seems the more a family has, the less peace there is because everyone wants to have what each other has. The abundance of goods causes a greed to set in on each one and greed will always engender some type of strife among members. So those who think that much is better are deluding themselves.
Prov 17:2 (KJB)
A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.
Many times in the ancient world a slave may become a steward in a household. The myth is that the slaves in the ancient world were being whipped all day. There were many that were put to forced labor but there were many that were very intelligent and well-educated. It was these that many of the wealthier citizens had purchased to run their households. In fact, many of these servants turned out to be so valuable that the masters of the house placed their children under their authority to learn. The servants even had the permission to exact corporal punishment as needed. If there is a son of a man in a home which has wise servants, he will hand him over to them for correction and education. In fact, many of the wise servants became part of the family and even were included in the inheritance. When Abraham discussed his heir, he had mentioned Eliezer who was the steward of his house. (Gen 15:2 KJV) And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? Basically, what Proverbs 17:2 is teaching us is that wisdom does not have any hold on any particular social position. A person who is a servant can be wiser than the one that is being served.
Prov 17:3 (KJB)
The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
Trieth - To examine or test
Just as the metalworker has a pot or crucible for the purpose of refining silver and has a furnace to place gold in it for the purpose of refining it which removes all the impurities. Pure gold melts at 1060 degrees centigrade, that is 1940 degrees Fahrenheit. This means the analogy is that since gold melts at such a high temperature, thus allowing the impurities to be removed, God examines the hearts of all His people. (Psa 11:5 KJV) The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. God also places His people through the furnace of affliction for the purpose of purifying them, which is also called the process of sanctification. (Isa 48:10 KJV) Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. When a person becomes saved, they still have the dross of the world on them but as they continue to grow in the faith, the dross begins to fall off. This is how God refines His people. As they find themselves in a practice which is not in keeping with the Christian walk, they will eliminate it and that means more dross has come off.
Prov 17:4 (KJB)
A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.
False lips - Lips of iniquity
Naughty - Wickedness
As water is to a fish, evil is to the evil person. The fish needs water to survive and the evil person continually must feed their appetite for evil to survive. An evil person cannot stand to be told truth so they are always giving heed to lies because lies are easy to believe for the wicked person. In turn, the one who propagates lies are the ones who give heed to the tongue of wickedness. It is a vicious cycle that the unbeliever is in. Wickedness panders to the basest instinct of man and he is quick to embrace it. It is a scenario that evil begets evil. A spiritual application is that the unbeliever will pay more attention to a false gospel because it is more palatable. He in turn will propagate the false teaching he has learned giving him a tongue of wickedness because the essence of wickedness in this world is to present a false Gospel and a false view of God. Many in this world are going to hell with the belief that God loves them the way they are but the truth is that God is at enmity with the unbeliever.
Prov 17:5 (KJB)
Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.
Mocketh - Scoff or deride
Reproacheth - Taunt or abuse
Glad - Joyful
Calamities - Distress
Here are two scenarios which the unbelieving fool must be careful not to engage in. The first one is that a person must never mock poor people. The very wealthy who plan wars see the poor people as nothing more than cannon fodder. This attitude of superiority is a reproach to the Creator. If you will notice, the term used is “his Maker.” God is emphasizing the point that the one who is scoffing at the poor is also a created being and can be placed in a worse condition than the ones they are mocking. The foolishness of the fool does not allow him to recognize that he too is a created being. Then the other fool who laughs at the distresses that come upon another is guaranteed not to go unpunished and whether that means here on earth or on Judgment Day does not matter because the punishment is guaranteed. When someone has a calamity in their life and maybe they are our enemy, if we can help, it opens up a wide door of testimony and it shows them that Christians are real and not just talkers.