What does the proverb “Pride goes before destruction” have to do with the fall of man? A friend said it refers to the first sin.
The Bible contrasts pride and humility: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud” (Prov. 16:18-19NIV). This proverb says that although pride may have some advantages, its leads to destruction. The principle that pride leads to destruction is repeated elsewhere (Psa. 18:27; Prov. 11:2; 15:25; 18:12; 29:23; Isa. 13:11; Ezek. 21:26; Mt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11). And there are several examples of this proverb in Scripture.
Pride was the first sin in the universe. Because of pride and selfish ambition to be like God, the Archangel Lucifer was cast out of heaven (Isa. 14:12-17; Ezek. 28:12-18; 1 Tim. 3:6). Goliath despised David, his opponent, because he was only a boy; but then he was killed by a stone from David’s sling (1 Sam. 17:42- 44, 48-50). Haman was proud that he was the only person invited to a banquet with the king and queen, but two days later he was executed (Est. 5:12; 7:9-10). Israel’s pride caused it to be conquered by the Assyrians (Amos 6:8-14). Jewish religious leaders sought recognition and honor, but were hypocrites who would be punished (Mt. 23:1-12; Lk. 20:45- 47). Pride is sinful and hated by God (Prov. 6:17; 2 Tim. 3:2). We are not to be proud because it is incompatible with God’s love (Rom. 12:3,16; 1 Cor. 13:4).
Now, what about the sin of Adam and Eve? Their first sin was to disobey God’s specific command not to eat from the forbidden tree (Gen. 2:17; 3:6). They acted independently of God instead of listening to Him, which is a form of pride. Pride led them to think they knew better than He (Gen. 3:5, 6, 22); they listened to Satan and their own reasoning. The fall of man is an example of the truth that “Pride goes before destruction.” While Proverbs 16:18 does not specifically refer to the first sin, it does describe a universal principle that applies from the beginning of time until today.
Published, July 2011
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