Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
This vice is animadverted on with peculiar severity in this Book of Proverbs. For this two reasons may be assigned.
I. THE EXTENSIVENESS OF THE SIN. Pride is a corruption that seems almost originally ingrafted in our nature; it exerts itself in our first years, and, without continual endeavours to suppress it, influences our last. Other vices tyrannise over particular ages, and triumph in particular countries; but pride is the native of every country, infects every climate, and corrupts every nation. It mingles with all our other vices, and without the most constant and anxious care will mingle also with our virtues.
II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PREACHER. Pride was probably a crime to which Solomon himself was most violently tempted. He was placed in every circumstance that could expose him to it. He had the pride of royalty, prosperity, knowledge, and wealth to suppress.
1. Consider the nature of pride, with its attendants and consequences. It is an immoderate degree of self-esteem, or an over-value set by a man upon himself. It is founded originally on an intellectual falsehood. In real life pride is always attended with kindred passions, and produces effects equally injurious to others and destructive to itself. He that over-values himself will under-value others, and he that under-values others will oppress them. Pride has been able to harden the heart against compassion, and stop the ears against the cry of misery. He that sets too high a value upon his own merits will, of course, think them ill rewarded with his present condition. To pride must be attributed most of the fraud, injustice, violence, and extortion, by which wealth is frequently acquired. Another concomitant of pride is envy, or the desire of debasing others. Another is an insatiable desire of propagating in others the favourable opinion he entertains of himself. No proud man is satisfied with being simply his own admirer.
2. The usual motives to pride. We grow proud by comparing ourselves with others weaker than ourselves. Another common motive to pride is knowledge. Another, a consciousness of virtue. Spiritual pride is generally accompanied with great uncharitableness and severe censures of others, and may obstruct the great duty of repentance. It may be well to conclude with the amiableness and excellence of humility. "With the lowly there is wisdom."
(S. Johnson, LL.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.