Hope for the Humble

I was reading my Proverb of the day (Proverbs 26) and I must admit that this is probably my favorite of all Proverb chapters.  But I noticed something this morning that I had never noticed before.  If you were to look at this chapter you’d find the first 11 verses are dealing harshly with foolish people.  Here’s some examples of what is being said:

Honor is not fitting for a fool anymore than snow is fitting for summer,

Rods were invented for smacking fools on the back,

Fools should be ignored, unless it causes them to look wise in their own eyes,

Sending a message by way of a fool is like cutting your legs out from under you,

and it goes on and on.  But then, we see a verse that shifts the focus from the fool.  Verse 12, still dealing with fools, takes the focus from the fool and puts it on the wise.  Read this verses closely: “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than him,” (ESV). This is the culmination of all the previous verses.  All those previous proverbs written were setting us up for this one verse.  This is the proverbial equivalent of Nathan’s story to David.  Do you remember that story?

And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms,and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! 

The whole story was to get David to see his sin of taking Uzziah’s wife to his own bed.  The whole point of verses 1-11 in Proverbs 26, is to get us to see that as bad as being a fool is, it is worse to be haughty and prideful.  Looking at the first 11 verses, one must come to the conclusion that there is no hope for a fool. But when verse 12 comes, having concluded there is no hope for a fool, we find there is more hope for him than there is for the one wise in his own eyes. Let that sink in.

A man who sees himself to be wise, thus a haughty, prideful man has less hope of change than a fool.  There is hope in humility, but almost none in haughtiness. May we remember that God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud (cf. James 4:6).

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