The Folly of Pride
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Proverbs, chapter 10. You will recall that we have been studying the book according to divisions, and we have been in the division for quite some time that is labeled The Personal Proverbs of Solomon , according to chapter 10, verse 1. This particular section begins with chapter 10 and carries all the way through chapter 22, verse 6. Because we have said to you that the proverbs are not presented chronologically nor topically, it is difficult to have a consecutive study of the book, so we have developed the principle of gathering around that principle the various proverbs which deal with it.

Some of the messages that we bring you along this line can be and, I trust, are inspirational, and you go away with a sense of inspiration and blessing. Others that I bring you along this line are not particularly inspirational. You can't go away inspired, but you can go away instructed, ready to follow the instruction of the Word of God. I hope that you will use what we are saying to you as a basis for the searching of your heart that the Word of God might be fulfilled in its original purpose. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine and for instruction. Some of this that we are talking about in this lesson is by way of instruction.

The principle that we want to discuss with you in this particular lesson, as it is found in this particular section of the book of Proverbs, we have designated The Folly of Pride . Pride is the characteristic of an individual that is ever present with us, and we could expect the Word of God to deal with it and discuss it in the book of Proverbs, which is instruction more for this life than instruction for the life that is to come, instruction more for everyday living than it is for what we might term spiritual blessing and growth, as we would describe Paul's letter to the Ephesians, by contrast.

Definitions of Pride

Because words have ceased to mean what they have always meant, I think that it might be wise for me to remind you that the English definition for the word pride is “an over-high opinion of one's self than an individual ought to have.” Because it can take a number of different forms, we may not always trace it back to its original source, but that is exactly what we are talking about when we are talking about the word pride . However, to do justice to the discussion of the subject, I think it would be wise for us to recognize that there are four Hebrew words that are translated by our English word pride , each one of them giving a little different shade of meaning. For example, the Hebrew word gaah describes the word pride as representing that which is lofty and that which is high. The individual who, for example, takes a high seat at a public gathering is exercising pride if he takes that by choice.

Another Hebrew word is gavah , which speaks of arrogance. This conveys the idea more of posture than it does of action. The very way a person walks, the very way a person holds his head is indicative of the condition of his heart when this word is used. Another word is the Hebrew word zadown , which is translated by the word presumptuous , as well as by the word pride , and the suggestion is that if a person presumes to do something of which he is not capable, then he is exercising pride. Or if a person presumes to do something which God has expressly forbidden in the Word of God, then he is acting in pride and not in humility.

The fourth word is a rather unique and interesting word, but it is translated by our English word pride , and it is the Hebrew word rachab , which is translated elsewhere by the word broad , and the word wide . That may seem strange to you that this particular word would be translated by our English word pride , but if you keep in mind that the individual who is proud, the individual who has a higher opinion of himself than he ought to have, is an individual who follows no rules and no regulations of his own. This is a picture of a person who, because of his pride, runs all over the field, so-to-speak. He ignores every rule and regulation by which other people operate. He is saying, in so many words, that the rule may apply to you, but it does not apply to him. He may say, in so many words, “You poor, ignorant folk probably need those laws; but I operate in a broad and wide area, and I do not need any such rules and regulations. I am in a class by myself.”

God's Feelings About Pride

We have looked at those Hebrew words which give you the various meanings of the word pride . We won't be pointing them out to you in every single text because they are used interchangeably. We would like to examine with you in this section of the book of Proverbs some of the things that are said about pride. The proverbs which express what pride is in relation to God—how God feels about this matter of pride—are brought to our attention first. You and I may look upon pride as a fault that an individual has. You may say, for example, “You know, he is a good man; of course, he is a little proud,” and we act as though it isn't anything much to be concerned about. But God feels differently about it, for the book of Proverbs tells us that pride is the object of God's hatred. We are going to go out of this original section and go back to chapter 6, verses 16-18, because I think it is a proper place to begin our discussion of God's feeling about this matter of pride. Notice:

Proverbs 6:

16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

God Hates Arrogancy

Seven things are the object of God's hate, and you will notice the very first one in the list is a proud look, the arrogancy to which we referred when we called your attention to the use of the Hebrew word gavah . How does God feel about arrogancy? He hates it. He cannot stand the thought of it. It is something that is utterly repulsive to Him.

It may be interesting for you to analyze how God could love the believer, for He does, and yet hate the arrogancy of some believers, but He does. We who are believers should search our hearts with the aid of the Spirit of God and see if we are entertaining this arrogancy in our hearts which is the object of God's hatred. Certainly fellowship cannot be complete as long as this pride is here.

So often we speak of being in fellowship and being out of fellowship, and so often we are conscious of being out of fellowship when we have committed some sin of which we are particularly conscious, and we can name the sin. In naming the sin, fellowship is restored, but I am afraid that many times we think of sin more as an act than an attitude; and when we think of it only as an act and fail to think of it as an attitude, we are out of fellowship without being conscious that we are out of fellowship until the results of broken fellowship becomes a reality in our lives. Let us remember that it is the object of God's hatred.

A Proud Heart is Sin

The Word of God is even more definite as to how God feels about pride, for He tells us that a proud heart is sin. It is interesting that we should come to this particular verse because a proud look would certainly have its roots in a proud heart. If there were not a proud heart, then there would not be a proud look, for that which man sees is actually the result of what is in the heart. Notice in chapter 21, verse 4:

Proverbs 21:

4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

Notice the phrase, “a proud heart.” Look particularly at the word proud. It will be interesting for you to know that it comes from the unique Hebrew word rachab , which speaks of broad, wide activities. Here is a heart that knows no restraint. He does whatever he wants to do and cares not about the outcome. God said, “This is sin,” as anything the unsaved person does, because the unsaved person—the flesh—is not pleasing to God; neither indeed can it be.

You say, “I am a little bit confused. One moment you are talking about sinners and the next minute you are talking about believers.” It is a sad thing to say, Beloved, but it is true that many of the characteristics of the unbeliever have become a part of the life of the careless believer, so that many times it is very, very difficult to tell the difference between the two.

If you were looking only at pride and you had a proud unbeliever and a proud believer side-by-side, the arrogance manifested by both might be very difficult to use as a measuring rod for the person's spiritual condition because they would be alike in what they had to say.

Pride May be Cause of Withheld Blessing

Another thing we should notice in connection with pride in relation to God is that pride causes God to withhold His blessing. Notice what is found in chapter 15, verse 25:

Proverbs 15:

25 The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.

God will withhold His blessing from the individual who is proud and self sufficient, and in withholding His blessing, destroy his house. He will destroy his material opportunities for blessing; but a widow, who in the Bible is always the symbol of humility, can look to God to establish her borders. Here is a proud man living his own life, doing as he pleases, leaving God out of his planning, and he can be broke; but here is a widow who has no business accumen, has no real opportunity of knowing what to do, and God will establish her borders because her dependence is in Him.

Punishment for Pride Inevitable

The last thing that we would like to say to you in the matter of pride in relation to God is that the proud individual has to face inevitable judgment eternally. There is no way to escape it. Notice what is recorded in chapter 16, verse 5:

Proverbs 16:

5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

You noticed in chapter 6 that God hated the proud. Here we read that he is an abomination to the Lord. We have already learned that the word abomination means “disgusting.” He is disgusting to the Lord, and “though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” This phrase, “hand join in hand,” is an idiomatic expression that speaks of all the strength of which man is capable to forestall impending doom, as men might join hands with other men to hold back a mob which is trying to reach a certain individual. So men sometimes join hand in hand to ward off the punishment of God, but God says in His Word, “The proud individual who has not submitted himself to the will of God will not go unpunished, though he find enough people to join hands with him to ward off the punishment of God.”

How does God feel about pride? He feels so strongly about it that he says, “Punishment for pride is inevitable.” It is better for a man to humble himself under the mighty hand of God and be lifted up than for him to bow his neck against the will and purpose of God and suffer the ultimate consequences, which happens in a great many lives. The Word of God reminds us that: “Being often reproved and hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be cut off and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).

Pride is Source of Arguments

Another suggestion that we would have in relation to the proverbs that deal with pride is to consider them in relation to others. What about pride in relation to our associates—pride in relation to other people? What will it do? The first thing that we notice in our study in this particular book is that pride is the source of arguments. Notice what is recorded in chapter 13, verse 10:

Proverbs 13:

10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

The Paraphrased translation suggests:“Pride leads to arguments. Be humble, take advice, and become wise.”

Why is it that there are so many arguments among individuals? Many reasons might be given, but one good reason is pride. Why do parents argue with their children and children argue with their parents? One reason is pride. Why do husbands and wives argue? Pride. Why do nations go to war? Pride. What does the Word of God say? “Better to be humble and take advice than to be in a constant argument because you are too proud to admit you were wrong.”

I think that all of us recognize that it takes a great deal of grace to admit that we were wrong; and rather than admit we were wrong, continue the argument, hoping somehow to save face. It is particularly difficult to admit that we were wrong if the person with whom we are arguing is of less stature than we ordinarily. Parents find it very difficult to admit to their children that they could make mistakes, and consequently they tolerate arguing and bickering instead of facing facts like they are. You make these applications to your own life because you are intelligent enough to do so.

Proud Men Are Dealers in Anger

There is another thing that is suggested in the book of Proverbs as far as pride and other people are concerned, and that is that the individual who is proud is a dealer in anger. This is an interesting thing to me. We talk about dealers. We have antique dealers and automobile dealers and clothing dealers and what have you. Here the Bible says that an individual can be a dealer in anger. Turn to chapter 21, verse 24. Notice the very expressive way that the Spirit of God has been pleased to state this that I am suggesting to you:

Proverbs 21:

24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.

Here is an individual who is dealing in what? He is dealing in proud wrath. He is dealing in anger that has its root in pride. What does God say is his name? “Proud and haughty scorner.” If he were going to put a sign over the door of his business establishment where he dealt in proud wrath, he could put the sign Proud and Haughty Scorner . If somebody came in and asked him what he was dispensing in this place, he could say, “Proud wrath.”

What a unique way the Spirit of God has chosen to emphasize that pride will not only be the source of your arguments in your relation to others, but will soon mark you as a dealer in proud wrath. How different this is than what the Lord Jesus Christ said was the responsibility of every believer. The Lord Jesus Christ said that the responsibility of every believer was to deal in love. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, because you love one another,” yet the proud man deals in wrath.

Once again let me emphasize, even at the risk of being repetitious, that I am not talking about unbelievers alone. I am talking about believers who are guilty of wrath, who are guilty of wrath that is filled with pride, who are guilty of pride that has not submitted itself to the Holy Spirit of God. This grieves the Holy Spirit, and not one believer who hasn't won victory over pride can ever expect to walk in the power of the Holy Sprit of God. It would be and is an utter impossibility.

Pride Results in Shame

Perhaps the greatest damage that pride can do is not to God. It grieves Him as it grieves the Holy Spirit of God. It is not to others. It hurts them, but wounds eventually heal. The greatest damage that I think can be done is what is done to you yourself. The Spirit of God, discussing this subject of pride in the book of Proverbs, mentions a number of things that occur in the indivual life because pride is still on the throne of the heart. Let us consider for a moment or two about pride in relation to self, suggesting first that pride results in shame. Notice, Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 2:

Proverbs 11:

2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

That is, when pride takes the ascendancy in the heart, you can be sure that eventually shame will follow. If you are interested in protecting your good name and your reputation, if you are interested in appearing well before everybody, then surrender this pride in your heart; because God has said, and it cannot be denied, that the individual who rides with pride in the saddle will eventually be thrown from the horse because shame always follows pride.

There may be a certain amount of enjoyment in riding high when you are riding high, but when the horse stumbles and you are thrown, that is another story, indeed. You can be sure of this: If you have not found out the meaning of lowliness, you are designated for shame.

Pride Results in Starvation

In chapter 12 there is another suggestion. I may have stated it a bit strongly, and yet I think that is the ultimate end—that pride results in starvation for the individual—for you will notice what is recorded in chapter 12, verse 9:

Proverbs 12:

9 He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.

That is an interesting comment, isn't it? Here is an individual who has a servant able to wait on him, but he has no standing in the community. Everybody looks down on him. Maybe everybody looks down on him because the thing that he is doing may be legitimate, but certain people have too much pride to do it. I once knew a man years ago who had a tremendous amount of money, but everybody looked down on him because he made his money selling secondhand clothes that he picked up in back alleys and wherever he could find them. When people wanted to give them away, he would come and get them, and he sold them. When he died, I was amazed to learn that he left his son two hundred thousand dollars. You see, he was not too proud to do something that other people looked down on, and that is the thought of this proverb here. Notice again:

Proverbs 12:

9 He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.

You know, there are too many people too proud to do certain things. I suppose all of you, at certain times or another, have heard the expression “I'd starve before I would do that.” I am not so sure anybody would. I have always maintained that if you got hungry enough, you would do it; but maybe there are some folk who are so proud that they would starve rather than do something that they considered degrading. God says in His Word that you are not doing anything but starving yourself. The man upon whom you look down has his servant and a full stomach and a roof over his head; and you go about dissatisfied because you are too proud to do what he does or something similar.

Pride Results in Eventual Failure

We can make it even stronger if you turn to Proverbs, chapter 16, and notice verse 18, where you are told that the individual who is full of pride is the individual who will face eventual failure. Notice verse 18:

Proverbs 16:

18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

I mention the word failure because the word fall comes from the Hebrew word kishshalown , which elsewhere is translated by the word ruin ; so we suggest to you that pride, in relation to you as an individual, is a dangerous thing because it will eventually result in ruin.

Look at chapter 18, verse 12, and notice a statement very similar to what we have already mentioned, but we emphasize it for the sake of double emphasis. Notice verse 12:

Proverbs 18:

12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.

If you want to face ruin, then continue on in your pride. If you want to be honored in due season, then follow the injunction of the Word of God and permit the Holy Spirit of God to develop a spirit of humility in your heart and your life.

Conclusion

There is one last thing that I want to say to you, and I want to say it by way of conclusion. When the wise man who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, as well as the book of Proverbs, came to the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, he said, “The conclusion of the whole matter is this…,” so I would say to you that the conclusion of the whole subject of pride in the book of Proverbs is found in chapter 16, verse 19:

Proverbs 16:

19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Yes, the proud may have spoil—ill-gotten gain—which they may be willing to share with you, but in the light of all that we have said to you in this message, learn a lesson and recognize that it is better to be of a humble spirit, dwelling with the lowly people, then to divide the spoil with the proud, the haughty and the lofty. Pride does not pay.

May I suggest that if, as we have been speaking with you, you have been wondering if you are afflicted with this disease, you take some time out for personal, private diagnosis, and if you find yourself afflicted, then follow the injunction of the Apostle James. Humble yourselves before God that in due time He may lift you up. May I remind you that pride, though you may think it an innocuous thing, is hated by God, disgusts Him, grieves the Holy Spirit and prevents the effective working of the Holy Spirit in your life.


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