Wisdom Decries Pride – I

The Tower of Babel - Dionysius Padtbrugge
The Tower of Babel - Dionysius Padtbrugge

In chapter 8 of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a lady who gives wise counsel to those who seek her. In verse 13, she lists those things which she hates, and one of them is pride. The Hebrew word for “hate” expresses a strong feeling of revulsion that is determined to exterminate. Why does wisdom chase away pride? To understand the reason for wisdom’s hatred for pride, we will pursue wisdom’s perspective and handling of pride.

Wisdom views pride as evil

In the list of evils mentioned in Proverbs 8:13, the first is “pride”. A study of various Hebrew words, translated as “pride” in the book of Proverbs, provides us with the following understanding of pride.

The evil nature of pride

  • Pride is a preoccupation with self-glory. It turns one’s heart away from giving glory to God. In a prideful heart, self-pleasure and self-glory take precedence over God’s glory (cf. Psalm 10:4).
  • Pride thrives on the idea of self-importance. A proud man will be so preoccupied with himself that he would not be concerned about others and their needs (cf. Proverbs 21:4).
  • Pride also entails self-confidence that is unwilling to submit to the good counsel of God and man. Pride is unyielding (cf. Hosea 7:10). For his own satisfaction and glory, a proud person will not hesitate to pursue evil ways.
  • Pride seeks to promote an exalted view of self at the expense of proper and moral conduct. Such an inflated view deceives a man into expressing defiance and rebellion unashamedly.
  • Pride may also take the ugly form of contemptible treatment of others. Inconsiderate, unkind, intimidating and cruel words will flow out of a proud person’s mouth.
  • Pride involves a “high look” or a haughty appearance and attitude (cf. Proverbs 21:4). Pride rejoices in an inflated opinion of oneself. An inflated view of one’s own opinion cannot help but causes trouble.
  • Pride also involves boasting. Psalm 73:8-9 casts some light on the words of the proud – “They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.” He has a “tongue that speaketh proud things” (Psalm 12:3).

The evil outcome of pride

A prideful person will lay bare the ugliness of pride in his attitude, words and actions. Three evils are mentioned in Proverbs 8:13 as following pride: arrogancy, the evil way and the froward mouth. Certainly, a conceited heart will be full of such evil. Seldom will a prideful man repent of his stubbornness, cruelty and evil ways.

Being quarrelsome is one of the evil fruits of pride. Proverbs 13:10 states, “Only by pride cometh contention.” Proverbs 28:25 affirms this fact when it says, “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife.” A proud person’s desire for prominence would make him a quarrelsome person. He would revolt against authority either to assert his own ideas or to gain material prosperity, position or popularity (cf. James 4:1). Pride also makes one impatient of competition and rivalry, impatient of contempt, or anything that looks like a slight. Prideful men will not forgive but take revenge.

Proverbs 21:24 describes a proud man as a scorner – “Proud and haughty scorner is his name.” A proud man is a mocker. Proverbs 9:7-8 describes how an arrogant scoffer will behave. Even those who lovingly correct him will be scorned. “He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee” (cf. Proverbs 13:1; 15:12; 19:25).

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