Up to this point in this chapter we have been making comparisons that point out the weaknesses of the “fool” (3684). Now we find someone that is even sorrier. The second target of these proverbs is the man who is “wise” (2450) in his own “conceit" (eyes NASB) (5869). At first I thought this was a synonym for fool, but they are ranked here. It is pretty bad when you are lower than a fool.
Why does a fool have more “hope” (8615b)? I’m not sure that is a question that needs an answer. It is like asking, “Is it easier to build a house with one nail or with two?” Maybe the pseudo-wise are more able to be successful so repentance comes harder. We don’t want to be in either category.
The pseudo-wise are lacking in humility. They genuinely feel they are better than other people. Think of the picture Jesus painted of the two men who came to the temple. The one who thanked God that he was not like other men was wise in his own eyes. It is easy to fall in this trap and even easier if you are one of those people that God has gifted with great talent and blessed with a place of birth. Americans by nature tend to think they are better than the rest of the world. It is easy to look at the blessings of God and feel like we deserve them.
When I read this I wonder if this refers to me. I should wonder that more often. That is one of the habits we need to develop. When you read something in the Bible, does it make you see a need in your life or does it point out the failures of others? When you are listening to a sermon and the pastor is calling for repentance, are there ten people in your sight that you hope will respond and it never occurs to you that you are the target? The Bible is not a hammer for you to use on others, it is a smelter to refine you. And me.
So take the opportunity to ask yourself, “When is the last time I realized God was trying to help me grow?” You may be glad to see that you are not wise in your own eyes. Or you may see a need to listen better.
Another writer, Being a Christian Today, had this quote:
"If every man was their equal, they would no longer be superior."You might find the entire article interesting.