Proverbs 16:18
We see the moral order of God revealed in the character and life of men in various ways. Their conduct has a good or evil effect on themselves, on their fellows, and is exposed to Divine judgment. Let us take these in their order.

I. THE REFLEXIVE EFFECT OF MAN'S CONDUCT.

1. Wisdom is enriching (ver. 16). To acquire it is better than ordinary wealth (Proverbs 3:14; Proverbs 8:10, 11, 19).

2. Rectitude is safety (ver. 17). It is a levelled and an even way, the way of the honest and good man; not, indeed, always to his own feeling, but in the highest view, "He that treads it, trusting surely to the right, shall find before his journey closes he is close upon the shining table lands to which our God himself is Sun and Noon." The only true way of self-preservation is the way of right.

3. The truth of contrast (ver. 18). Pride foretells ruin; the haughty spirit, overthrow and destruction (Proverbs 15:25, 33). The thunderbolts strike the lofty summits, and leave unharmed the kneeling vale; shiver the oak, and pass harmless over the drooping flower. We are ever safe upon our knees, or in the attitude of prayer. A second contrast appears in ver. 19. The holy life with scant fare better than a proud fortune erected on unjust gains,

"He that is down need fear no fall; He that is low, no pride."

4. The effect of religious principle (ver. 20). We need constantly to carry all conduct into this highest light, or trace it to this deepest root. Piety here includes two things:

(1) obedience to positive command;

(2) living trust in the personal God.

Happiness and salvation are the fruit. "I have had many things in my hands, and have lost them all. Whatever I have been able to place in God's hands, I still possess" (Luther).

II. EFFECTS IS RELATION TO OTHERS.

1. The good man is pleasing to others (vers. 21, 24). There is a grace on his lips, a charm in his conversation, in a "speech alway with grace, seasoned with salt." How gladly men listened to our great Exemplar, both in public and in private! Thus, too, the good man sweetens instruction, and furthers its willing reception in the mind of his listeners.

2. He earns a good reputation for sense, discretion, prudence (vers. 21, 22). And this not only adds to his own happiness (for we cannot be happy without the good will of our fellows), but it gives weight to his teaching (ver. 23). The teacher can produce little effect whose words stand not out in relief from the background of character. The true emphasis is supplied by the life.

3. The contrast (ver. 22). The folly of fools is self-chastising. The fool makes himself disagreeable to others; even if he chances upon a sound word or right action, it is devoid of the value and weight which only character can give. He incurs prejudice and opposition on every hand, sows thorns in his own path, and invites his own destruction.

III. THE PRINCIPLE OF DIVINE JUDGMENT IN ALL. Every one of these effects marks in its way the expression of the Divine will, the laws of a Divine order. But, above all, the end determines the value of choice and the quality of life. The great distinction between the seeming and the real is the distinction between facts as they appear in the light of our passions, our wishes, our lusts, our various illusions and self-deceptions, and facts as they are in the clear daylight of eternal truth and a judgment which cannot err (ver. 25). To guard against the fatal illusions that beset us, we should ask:

1. Is this course of conduct according to the definite rules of conduct as they are laid down in God's Word?

2. Is it according to the best examples of piety? Above all, is it Christ-like, God-like? - J.







Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
I. SHOW WHAT PRIDE AND HAUGHTINESS MEAN. Pride is thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. It is corruption of self-love, it is self-flattery. A man thinks too highly of himself when he thinks that anything he has is his own; or when he conceives himself to have what he really has not; or when he challenges more respect than is due to him on the score of what he has. Pride is not peculiar to persons of any one rank.

II. ILLUSTRATE THE TRUTH OF THIS OBSERVATION FROM SCRIPTURE AND REASON. Pride will generally have a fall.

1. Argue from the reason of the thing itself, and its natural tendency. Some kinds of pride are very expensive. Pride is very contentious, and makes a man enemies. Pride makes men over-confident in their own efficiency. Vanity runs men into error and mistakes.

2. Argue that God has particularly declared His detestation of pride, and His resolution to punish it. The whole tenor of Scripture intimates how exceeding hateful pride is to Almighty God. The reasons for it are obvious. Pride is improper and unbecoming our condition and circumstances. It is an inlet to all vices. Reflections:(1) Here is a proper consideration for dissuading men from pride, or curing them of it.(2) Commend the humility which is spoken so highly of in Scripture.

(D. Waterland, D.D.)

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.)

We may arm ourselves against the haughty spirit which Solomon speaks of as precursor of a fall. There is a tendency in knowledge to the producing of humility, so that the more a man knows, the more likely is he to think little of himself. The arrogant and conceited person is ordinarily the superficial and ignorant. The man of real powers and great acquirements is usually a simple and unaffected man. He who knows most is most conscious of how little he knows. There is no truer definition of human knowledge than that it is the knowledge of human ignorance. Oh singular constitution of pride, that its very existence should be our proof of its absurdity! Try the affirmation that knowledge produces humility, in relation to our state by nature, and to our state by grace. Pride proves deficiency of knowledge in both these respects. As to man's natural condition, how can anybody be proud who knows that condition? There is no such contrast as that which may be drawn between man a fallen creature, and man a redeemed creature. But this does not puff the redeemed man up with pride, seeing redemption is not his work, but emanates from free-grace. Therefore, study ye yourselves; pray God for the aid of His Spirit to discover you to yourselves. Then you may grow up into the stature of the perfect man.

(H. Melvill, B.D.)

Homilist.
I. PRIDE AS THE PRECURSOR OF RUIN. Pride and haughtiness are equivalents. What is here predicted of pride —

1. Agrees with its nature. It is according to the instinct of pride to put its subject in an unnatural, and, therefore, in an unsafe position. The proud man's foot is on quicksand, not on rock.

2. Agrees with its history. Destruction always has followed in its march.

II. HUMILITY IS THE PLEDGE OF GOOD. What are all the spoils of earth's haughty conquerors to be compared with the blessedness of a genuinely humble soul? "Humility," says Sir Benjamin Brodie, "leads to the highest distinction, because it leads to self-improvement. Study to know your own character; endeavour to learn, and to supply your own deficiencies; never assume to yourselves qualities which you do not possess."

(Homilist.)

I. WHAT IS IT WE ARE TO BEWARE OF? Pride and a haughty spirit.

1. Lofty thoughts of ourselves.

2. Disdain of others.

3. Boastful talk.

4. Rash and vain actions.

II. THE EVILS OF PRIDE.

1. It separates us from God (Psalm 138:6; ver. 5).

2. Makes men hate us.

3. Brings us to ruin.Examples and illustrations: Pharaoh, Goliath, Absalom, Sennacherib, Belshazzar, Haman, Lucifer, the Pharisees, Herod, Wolsey ("I and the king"), Napoleon Bonaparte, Boulanger.

(R. Brewin.)

A kite having risen to a very great height, moved in the air as stately as a prince, and looked down with much contempt on all below. "What a superior being I am now!" said the kite; "who has ever ascended so high as I have? What a poor grovelling set of beings are all those beneath me! I despise them." And then he shook his head in derision, and then he wagged his tail; and again he steered along with so much state as if the air were all his own, and as if everything must make way before him; when suddenly the string broke, and down fell the kite with greater haste than he ascended, and was greatly hurt in the fall. Pride often meets with downfall.

(W. Cobbin.)

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