Proverbs 16

By Pastor Brian 

There are two verses in this chapter that when I read them I immediately thought “Oh, that’s in this chapter!” They’re “mostly famous” verses; the kind of verses you hear repeated often enough to recognize, but not enough to know where to find them.

The first one is verse 18–often simplified down to “Pride goes before a fall.” The second is verse 25 which says, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (New Living Version) As I thought about these two verses I realized that they say a lot about the foolish choices that we all sometimes make in our lives.

First, “Pride goes before a fall”. It seems like you hear this most often when an over-confident team comes up short in a game they should have won or when some show-off gets put in his place. We almost use it as a way of saying, “That serves them right! They had that coming to them! Maybe they’ll think twice next time!” And I agree that there is certainly an aspect of that message in this verse, but I think our second “mostly famous” verse gives us a slightly different perspective.

It is true that there are times when each of us become convinced (or we manage to convince ourselves) that a sinful or foolish path that lies in front of us is a good idea. “Just this once it will be ok for me to lie (or cheat or lash out or envy or any one of countless other selfish and destructive choices),” we tell ourselves.

I think it is in these moments that these two verses converge. When our pride leads us to assume that we know better than God, we decide that when He established His directions and standards for our lives He simply could not have foreseen our specific circumstances and so we should surely get a pass just this one time. We say, “I know normally this behavior would be wrong, but for me, because of my situation, this path seems right!” When we do this–when we assume that we know better than God we make choices that inevitably ends in death (or at least loss and pain).

Here we see both of these truths in play: because of our pride (thinking we know better than God) the sinful path in front of us seems good, but it always leads to us falling into hurt, loss and death!

What is the remedy for this deadly trap? It is to humbly accept that God’s way is good and right, even when it seems costly or old fashion or cumbersome. It is to simply trust God enough that when His Word or His Spirit tell you to avoid a path that you avoid it–even if that path seems right to you.