When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom.
I. JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE IN COMMON THINGS. Jehovah delights in "full weight," and abominates the tricky balance. This may be applied:
1. Literally, to commerce between man and man.
2. Figuratively, to all social relations in which we may give and receive. Work is only honest if thorough; if honest and thorough, it is religious. If principle be the basis of all our transactions, then what we do is done "unto the Lord, and not unto men." If we are indifferent to principle in the common transactions of the week, it is impossible to be really religious in anything or on any day.
II. HAUGHTINESS AND MODESTY. Extremes meet. The former topples over into shame; the latter is lifted into the heights of wisdom.
1. No feeling was more deeply stamped on the ancient mind than this. Among the Greeks hubris, among the Romans insolence, designated an offence peculiarly hateful in the eyes of Heaven. We see it reappearing in the songs and proverbs of the gospel: "He hath brought down the mighty from their seat, and exalted them of low degree;" "Every one that. humbleth himself shall be exalted; but he that exalteth himself shall be abased."
2. It is stamped upon all languages. Thus, in English, to be high, haughty, lofty, overbearing, are terms of censure; lowly, humble, terms of praise. In the German the words uebermuth, hochmuth, point to the same notion of excess and height in the temper.
3. At the same time, let us remember that the good temper may be counterfeited. Nothing is more easy than to suppose we have humbled ourselves by putting on a manner. Yet nothing is more detestable than the assumption of this particular manner. True humility springs from seeing ourselves as we are; pride, from nourishing a fanciful or ideal view of ourselves. Wisdom must begin with modesty; for a distorted or exaggerated view of self necessarily distorts our view of all that comes into relation with sell
III. RECTITUDE AND FAITHLESSNESS. (Ver. 3.) The former means guidance, for it is a clear light within the man's own breast; the latter, self destruction. As scriptural examples of the one side of the contrast, may be cited Joseph and Daniel; of the other, the latter, Saul, Absalom, Ahithophel, Ahab, and Ahaziah.
IV. RECTITUDE AND RICHES. (Ver. 4; see on Proverbs 10:2.)
1. Riches cannot purchase the grace of God, nor avert his judgments.
2. Rectitude, though not the first cause of salvation, is its necessary condition. To suppose that we can be saved from condemnation without being saved from sin is a gross superstition.
V. SELF-CONSERVATIVE AND SELF-DESTRUCTIVE HABITS. (Vers. 5, 6; comp. Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 10:3.) Honesty and rectitude level the man's path before him; wickedness causes him to stumble and fall. Straightforwardness means deliverance out of dangers, perplexities, misconceptions; while the eager greed of the dishonest man creates distrust, embarrassment, inextricable difficulty.
"He that hath light within his own clear breast
VI. HOPE AND DESPONDENCY IN DEATH. (Ver. 7.) The former seems implied. If the Old Testament says expressly so little about a future life, some of its sayings may be construed as allusions to and indications of it. It is little that we can know definitely of the future life. But the least we do know is that hope is inextinguishable in the good man's soul; it is its own witness, and "reaps not shame." But despondency and despair are the direct result of wicked living. To cease to hope is to cease to wish and to cease to fear. This must be the extinction of the soul in the most dreadful way in which we can conceive it.
VII. THE EXCHANGE OF PLACES FOLLOWS MORAL LAW. (Ver. 8.) The good man comes out of distress, and the evil becomes his substitute in sorrow. So with the Israelites and Pharaoh, a great typical example; so with Mordecai and Haman; with Daniel and his accusers. Great reversals of human judgments are to be expected; many that were last shall be first, and the first last.
VIII. THE SOCIAL PEST AND THE TRUE NEIGHBOUR. (Ver. 9.) The pernicious power of slander. The best people are most injured by it, as the best fruit is that which the birds have been pecking at; or, as the Tamil proverb says, "Stones are only thrown at the fruit-laden tree." The tongue of slander "out-venoms all the worms of Nile." It spares neither sex nor age, nor helplessness. It is the "foulest whelp of sin." It promotes nothing that, is good, but destroys much. Knowledge, on the other hand - in the form of sound sense, wide experience - if readily imparted, is a boon to all. And the best of boons, for gifts and charities soon lose their benefit, while a hint of wisdom lives and germinates in the mind in which it has been deposited.
IX. OBJECTS OF SYMPATHY AND ANTIPATHY. (Ver. 10.) Gladness follows the success of the good and the downfall of the evil. The popular feeling about men's lives, as manifested at critical periods of failure or success, is a moral index, and suggests moral lessons. There is a true sense in which the voice of the people is the voice of God. Compare the scene of joy which followed Hezekiah's success in the promotion of true religion (2 Chronicles 29, 30), and the misery under Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28); also the rejoicings on the completion of Nehemiah's work (Nehemiah 8); and for jubilation at evil men's deaths, Pharaoh, Sisera, Athaliah (Exodus 15; Judges 5; 2 Kings 11:13-20).
X. SOUND POLITICS AND PERNICIOUS COUNSELS. (Ver. 11.) The blessing, i.e. the beneficial principles and administration of good and wise men exalt a city (or state). On the other hand, unprincipled counsels, even if temporarily successful, lead in the end to ruin. "It is impossible," said Demosthenes, "O men of Athens, that a man who is unjust, perverse, and false should acquire a firm and established power. His policy may answer for once, may hold out for a brief period, and flourish marvellously in expectations, if it succeed; but in course of time it is found out, and rushes into ruin of its own weight. Just as the foundation of a house or the keel of a ship should be the strongest part of the structure, so does it behove that the sources and principles of public conduct should be true and just. This is not the case at the present time with the actions of Philip." Compare the examples of Elisha (2 Kings 13:14, etc.), Hezekiah, and Isaiah (2 Chronicles 32:20-23), on the one hand; and the Babel builders (Genesis 11:4-9) and the Ammonites (Ezekiel 25:3, 4) on the other; also Jeremiah 23:10; Hosea 4:2, 3. - J.
I. THE ADVENT OF PRIDE. Pride is inordinate self-appreciation. This feeling comes to a soul; it is not born in it. Infancy and childhood are free from it. How does it come?
When pride cometh, then cometh shame.
I. The vice of pride PUTS ON A GREAT VARIETY OF APPEARANCES, AND IS FOUND IN EVERY RANK AND CONDITION OF HUMAN LIFE. Pride of station claims our first notice. "Man being in authority," is too apt to be "proud at heart"; to be "puffed up" with this distinction; to consider himself as a being of a higher order than the rest of his fellow sinners; and to look upon those with disdain who are lower in the scale of society than himself. But what do the Scriptures say to such a vain and foolish mortal as this? They tell him that "man will not long abide in honour, seeing he may be compared to the beast that perisheth." They tell him that "men of high degree are a lie; to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity."
2. Nor is the pride of birth less unreasonable than that of rank. Even a heathen in ancient times could see its absurdity, and say, "for as to family and ancestors, and what we have not done ourselves, we can scarcely call those things ours."
3. Of the same wicked and foolish character is pride of riches. Reason tells us that riches cannot give dignity of character, superiority of intellect, vigour of body, endowments of mind, peace of conscience, cheerfulness of heart, or any one of those advantages which form the chief blessings of life; and, therefore, are a very insufficient foundation for "pride of heart."
4. Pride of talent, and pride of learning, also ill become "man that is born of a woman." A disease, an accident, "a sudden terror," may overset the mind, and turn all our light into "utter darkness." Of the pride of beauty, in order to show its folly, it need only be said, in the language of inspiration, "surely all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field
; the grass withereth, and the flower fadeth."
5. The pride of judgment, also, which is too often the pride of the young and ignorant, is of the like foolish description, and is equally rebuked by the Holy Scriptures. It is a common and a true observation, that those who know least generally imagine that they know most, and know best.
6. But, of all kinds of pride, spiritual pride, or the conceit and boast of being holier than others, is the worst description of this bad passion: most hateful to God, and most dangerous to our souls.
II. Opposite, however, as the mid-day sun to "utter darkness," is THE CHARACTER GIVEN IN CRIPTURE OF LOWLINESS OR HUMILITY: AND THE VIEW OF THE BLESSINGS WHICH ARE PROMISED UPON THOSE IN WHOM IT IS FOUND. "When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom." When we consider the nature of man, fallen and far gone from original righteousness, one might well think that men should of their own accord see the propriety, the necessity, of the grace of humility in their character. Our Lord has bound meekness and poverty of spirit upon our consciences by His injunctions, and encouraged our obedience to His injunctions by assuring us that "the meek and the poor in spirit shall inherit the kingdom of heaven." He has declared to us that those who "humble themselves shall be exalted"; and finally, to give the greatest possible weight and effect to what He said, He left us, in His own practice, the most perfect example of the graces which He enjoined to His followers: for "He made Himself of no reputation," etc.
1. By associating only with inferiors.
2. By practically ignoring the true standards of character. When we lose sight of the eternal law of rectitude, and judge ourselves only by the imperfect standards around us, pride is likely to come.
3. By a practical disregard to the majesty of God. The conscious presence of God humbles.
II. THE EVIL OF PRIDE. "Then cometh shame." The man who has formed a false and exaggerated estimate of self must be disappointed one day. Man must always find his level; he must come to realities.
1. Shame of folly. The soul bursts with a sense of its own foolish estimate.
2. Shame of guilt. Pride is a wrong state of mind, and hence shame follows it.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
1. The first is the extensiveness of the sin. Other vices tyrannise over particular ages, and triumph in particular countries. Rage is the failing of youth, and avarice of age; revenge is the predominant passion of one country, and inconstancy the charasteristic of another; but pride is the native of every country, infects every climate, and corrupts every nation.
2. The second reason may be drawn from the circumstances of the preacher. Pride was probably a crime to which Solomon himself was most violently tempted, since he was placed in every circumstance that could expose him to it. He was a king absolute and independent, and by consequence surrounded with sycophants ready to second the first motions of self-love, to comply with every proposal, and flatter every failing. But Solomon had not only the pride of royalty to suppress, but the pride of prosperity, of knowledge, and of wealth.
I. THE NATURE OF PRIDE, WITH ITS ATTENDANTS AND CONSEQUENCES. Pride, simply considered, is an immoderate degree of self-esteem, or an over-value set upon a man by himself, and, like most other vices, is founded originally on an intellectual falsehood. But this definition sets this vice in the fairest light, and separates it from all its consequences, by considering man without relation to society, and independent of all outward circumstances. Pride, thus defined, is only the seed of that complicated sin against which we are cautioned in the text. In speculation pride may be considered as ending where it began, and exerting no influences beyond the bosom in which it dwells; but in real life pride will always be attended with kindred passions, and produce effects equally injurious to others, and destructive to itself.
1. He that overvalues himself will undervalue others, and he that undervalues others will oppress them. Pride has been able to harden the heart against compassion, and stop the ears against the cries of misery. It makes masters cruel and imperious, and magistrates insolent and partial. It produces contempt and injuries, and dissolves the bond of society. Nor is this species of pride more hurtful to the world than destructive to itself. The oppressor unites heaven and earth against him.
2. He that sets too high a value upon his own merits will, of course, think them ill-rewarded with his present condition. He will endeavour to exalt his fortune and his rank above others, in proportion as his deserts are superior to theirs. Once fired with these notions, he will attempt to increase his fortune and enlarge his sphere; and how few there are that prosecute such attempts with innocence, a very transient observation will sufficiently inform us. To pride, therefore, must be ascribed most of the fraud, injustice, violence, and extortion, by which wealth is frequently acquired.
3. Another concomitant of pride is envy, or the desire of debasing others. A proud man is uneasy and dissatisfied, while any of those applauses are bestowed on another, which he is desirous of himself.
4. Another consequence of immoderate self-esteem is an insatiable desire of propagating in others the favourable opinion he entertains of himself. He therefore tortures his invention for means to make himself conspicuous, and to draw the eyes of the world upon him. But for the most part it is ordered by Providence that the schemes of the ambitious are disappointed, so that "still when pride cometh, then cometh shame, but with the lowly is wisdom."
II. SOME OF THE USUAL MOTIVES TO PRIDE, AND HOW LITTLE THEY CAN BE PLEADED IN EXCUSE OF IT. A superior being that should look down upon the disorder and corruption of our world, that should observe the shortness of our lives, the weakness of our bodies, the continual accidents, or injuries, to which we are subject; the violence of our passions, the irregularity of our conduct, and the transitory state of everything about us, would hardly believe there could be among us such vice as pride. Yet so it is, that however weak or wicked we may be, we fix our eyes on some other that is represented by our self-love to be weaker, or more wicked, than ourselves, and grow proud upon the comparison. Another common motive to pride is knowledge, a motive equally weak, vain, and idle, with the former. Learning indeed, imperfect as it is, may contribute to many great and noble ends, and may be called in to the assistance of religion. But how little reason have we to boast of our knowledge, when we only gaze and wonder at the surface of things? When the wisest and most arrogant philosopher knows not how a grain of corn is generated, or why a stone falls to the ground? But were our knowledge far greater than it is, let us yet remember that goodness, not knowledge, is the happiness of man! There is another more dangerous species of pride, arising from a consciousness of virtue; so watchful is the enemy of our souls, and so deceitful are our own hearts, that too often a victory over one sinful inclination exposes us to be conquered by another. This kind of pride is generally accompanied with great uncharitableness, and severe censures of others, and may obstruct the great duty of repentance.
III. THE AMIABLENESS AND EXCELLENCE OF HUMILITY. To evince beyond opposition the excellence of this virtue, we may observe that the life of our Lord was one continued exercise of humility.
(John Taylor, LL.D.)
Christian Weekly.Tirmond, one of the Czar's ablest surgeons, and to whom he was much attached, having died, his widow married a young barber from Dantzic, who was somewhat more expert in gallantry than in surgery; as he became very wealthy by this marriage, he made a great figure at Moscow. Being one day sent for by the Czar, he went to court in a magnificent dress, and in one of his elegant carriages. Peter examined him, and roughly told him he was a blockhead, and immediately sailed in a troop of valets and peasants, whom he ordered him instantly to shave. The gentleman barber was under the necessity of obeying, to the great amusement of the whole court, and with the same parade in which he had arrived, he was then permitted to return.
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