Day 16: Pride comes before a fall (16:18)
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall”
Also “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud” (16:19). “Pride comes before a fall” is one saying often found in every day speech, with people often not realising it originated in today’s text. But before we reflect on the matter of pride, we are reminded, as is often this writer’s want, before landing us with this particular gem preceded by his “better is it” advice, of ground earlier covered, including the part wisdom, by which we should live our lives, plays, as well as to put us humbly and soundly in our place. “Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word. Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good. Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place … Far better to be right and poor than to be wrong and rich. We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it” (16:1-3,6-9 – The Message). It is worth recalling Proverbs is primarily about setting out the way of wisdom and however smart we may consider ourselves to be, we can’t outsmart the Almighty who knows our motives and can foresee the outcome of our actions. It is why we need to commit all what we do to God and doing it His way. Even if we have little to show for our labours, what matters is do it His way for Him. If there is a moral to be found, it is better to be humble than proud, poor than rich.
Pride is associated with feelings of pleasure in achievement, accomplishment, of something we have done or are or in someone else and is often associated with conceit, egotism, vanity, vain glory, and one’s own appearance or status in life. It is a dangerous thing that can take us away from God. Besides today’s text, we read “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit” (29:3). We are warned: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” 1 John 2:15,16, and “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” James 4:6. The Bible is full of examples of man’s (and also Satan’s) pride. While frustratingly the proud person may seem to prosper for a season, he will come to a sad end and will eventually fall, while the humble person will be blessed. Pride is a trap we can easily fall into, for such is the human heart. The brutal truth is “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. To avoid falling into this trap we do well to follow the way of the wisdom.
Prayer: may we commit our being and doing to following the way of wisdom. Forgive our pride and deliver us from it. May we ever identify with the humble.