Proverbs in 365 Devotions

July 11

Proverbs 12:9 Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.

Better To Be Lowly

Like Jesus

R Aylor

It’s probably easy to read this verse and all of a sudden hone in on how Solomon says it’s better to have a servant… and start making inferences and judgments against Gods word while missing the truth.

To have a servant in an acceptable way biblically can be found a number of ways. Here's a few:

  • A servant who works as an apprentice. (Elisha to Elijah) In this situation the servant would have a desire to show respect to their mentor.

  • A servant who is working off a debt.

  • A servant might have been someone who had no land in Israel and was willing to be hired out as a servant to have a place to live and food to eat.

  • In all these examples the one who has a servant does so because he was gracious to the one who serves him. The text calls him lowly… He is a humble person.

    • We see this in the first example as a mentor in teaching his apprentice.

    •  The second by letting someone work off a debt instead of putting them in jail.

    • And the third in hiring someone who needs a place to live and food to eat.


This verse is strange in one sense. It says the one who has a servant is the lowly one… You might think the lowly one would be the servant. But from the examples given for good reasons to have a servant we see that the master of the house is the one who is willingly and intentionally making himself lowly. He is the real servant here. In his case to have a servant is to be the real servant.

As I read this text, I am reminded of Jesus… the King of Kings, Creator of all things… the one who holds the fabric of the Universe together by the word of his power… He came as the lowest of servants, even to the giving of his own life on the Cross.

Matthew 20:28 ...the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Though he was the greatest of all men he did not play the “great man” like our text says some people do. The Master came to serve and he gave himself as our example.

Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Pray