July 26, 2020 | Books of the Bible | Proverbs by Claudine Snyder
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (ESV)
Proverb 26 can be split into three sections: the way of a fool in verses 1-12, the way of a sluggard in verses 13-16, and the consequences of a sinful tongue in verses 17-28. Verse 12 is one of three verses (5, 12, 16) that repeats the phrase “wise in his own eyes.” In verse 12, there are two men in view: a man wise in his own eyes and a fool. One of them is more hopeless than the other. What exactly is a fool? The Bible uses this word some 360 times, describing the person opposed to both wisdom and God. He is thoughtless, self-centered, arrogant, short-sighted, careless, and returns to his foolish ways again and again (verse 11, a dog returning to his vomit). He is stupid, senseless, and lacking honor. Verses 1-11 give quite a detailed picture of what it looks like to be a fool.
Additionally, verse 5 (“answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes”) informs us even a fool can be wise in his own eyes (Prov 12:15). The life of a fool is a grievous state of existence. Yet, even the fool is better off than the man wise in his own eyes. It is worse to be wise in your own eyes than it is to be a fool.
A good question to ask here is: Why? Why does the man “wise in his own eyes” have less hope? Because he is stubbornly unteachable. Unteachable conveys pride, dogmatic, bullheaded, mulish, and insecure. This person is virtually impossible to help. What feeds this self-proclaimed wisdom? Pride—and the Bible is replete with commentary about pride. Though the fool can learn (Prov 8:5), the proud and conceited (wise in his own eyes) are taught with more difficulty than the stupid. Therefore, the prideful—wise in his own eyes—person has less hope.
Hope for what? Usually, hope has in view an expectation or belief in the fulfillment of something. Perhaps what is in view here is wisdom, knowledge, or instruction in the fear and admonition of the Lord. All of this is stifled in the person who is wise in his own eyes. They are a walking, talking ignoramus—virtually impenetrable by the wisdom and instruction of those around him. Oh, what a dangerous place to be!
Contrasting the fool and prideful person is Jesus Christ. Indeed, He is the embodiment of wisdom, truth, hope, and humility. Biblical hope sees and is confident in what God will do in the future. At the heart of Christian hope is the person and work of Christ.
- Are you wise in your own eyes? One of the true characteristics of a disciple of Christ is a teachable spirit. Do you see any characteristics from the fool or the man wise in his own eyes in yourself?
- Read and pray through Philippians 2:1-11 and ask God to give you a humble and teachable spirit.
- Ask God to reveal pride and foolishness in your life.
- Pray for a teachable heart that is open to the instruction and advice of other mature believers.