Pro 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.
Isn't it interesting that Solomon, the richest guy on earth, is drawing a contrast here in this verse? He says that is is better to have a dry morsel, a small portion of food without honey or broth to moisten it, if it is eaten in unity and love, than to have a house full of "sacrifices." Whoa, now, what does he mean here?
When the children of Israel followed the instructions of the Lord to make their sacrifices, they always brought the best, unblemished animal that they could afford to bring. There were rules set up for the priests to take a portion -- they were doing their work in the temple all day, so they couldn't exactly go out and make a living, right? So this was the way that God provided for them to eat. Once their portion was chosen, the remainder could be divided up and used by the family that it belonged to.
So, a house "full of sacrifices" is referring back to that, and means a house full of food and drink - in contrast to that dry morsel. I think that we can agree with Solomon that a house filled with love, peace, and contentment is a much nicer place to be than one filled with contention and strife . . . and such a house would make a dry morsel seem like so much more, even if that was all there was to eat.
There is another track with this verse, that I thought was even more inspiring. I started looking at the verse, and the roots of the words, and I was focused on the word "quietness," and how much better that quiet was . . I had read recently in my devotions about Christ's retiring to a quiet spot, away from the crowds, and it struck me that this is really something necessary in our modern lives. I hope you won't mind - I'll try not to get too wordy, but let's look at three situations.
First, remember Moses. The Bible says he "sojourned" in the wilderness, keeping his father-in-law's flocks. He stayed out there a pretty good while, and became a man of prayer and quiet strength. God prepared him for that trip back to Pharaoh's court, so that he could become the leader of a nation.
Next, do you recall Elijah? He called the wilderness home, too, for a while. He didn't have much to eat or drink (check it out - it will make you treasure what you have in your pantry!) and he didn't have much company. But God kept him secure, and at peace, and quietly prepared him for his showdown with 450 priests of Baal. (He won, by the way . . . you can read all about it in I Kings 18-19.)
Third, look at the life of Paul. At the time he was called Saul, he was introduced to the God whose followers he was persecuting --- in the middle of a highway, headed toward Damascus. He spent several years in the wilderness, being prepared for a life that would shake the established religions of the day to their foundations. He founded churches, wrote letters, and changed lives --- but before he could do that, he needed that quietness.
I wonder if we can learn from this, that quietness is an integral part of our spiritual lives? We can become so busy, so rushed, that we may be ill-prepared for what God has in store for us. Sometimes even church activities can become too "loud" in our lives, and crowd out that still, small voice.
Lord, teach me to linger at my Bible, to pause in the midst of my requests, and to remain quiet. Speak to me as only You can -- I promise I will listen.