Proverbs 15:17 (ESV)

17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.

In Israel, only the rich could eat meat on a regular basis ( 1 Kings 4:22–23; Amos 6:4). The ordinary person only had meat when taking part in a sacrificial meal, or when having guests. Thus the fattened calf that this proverb speaks of is really a luxury. Yet our happiness does not depend on luxuries like these, because love is more important for happiness than wealth is.

One can only think of the hate that sometimes exists among people who share the same table. Hate can become an invisible guest at table, giving a bitter taste to any meal. Hate can enter the bedroom, and take away our sleep.

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife,” says a related proverb (Proverbs 17:1). Human life is brief and difficult. Blessed are those who seek and find joy in a God-fearing household, where people are loving each other (Psalm 133:1–3; see note under Proverbs 15:16). A better source of earthly happiness cannot easily be found.