Proverbs 18:1

ESV Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
NIV An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
NASB One who separates himself seeks his own desire; He quarrels against all sound wisdom.
CSB One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound wisdom.
NLT Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense.
KJV Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.
NKJV A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.

What does Proverbs 18:1 mean?

This proverb speaks out against being hardened to the views and experiences of others. The context implies that this "isolation" is less about distance and personality, and more about beliefs and understanding. The "isolating" person exhibits a superior attitude, as if other people's judgment is beneath them. Such a person can never expand their horizons; they will be left with only limited knowledge.

This verse indicates that the "isolating" person is not being passive. Such an attitude means fighting against good sense. The Hebrew word translated in the ESV as "breaks out" can also be rendered as "quarrels." In modern English, a person who isolates themselves from anything they don't want to hear is said to be in an "echo chamber." The next proverb (Proverbs 18:2) evokes a similar idea: that some people don't want to hear other opinions. They just want to express their own opinions, and, in the case of an "echo chamber," hear those same opinions spoken by other people. Such attitudes are not healthy. It's important for Christians to examine their positions and seek truth, even if it means admitting error (Acts 17:11; Proverbs 18:13, 17).

Believers should not participate in the sins of unbelievers, but it's not wise—or possible—to eliminate all contact with unbelievers. The apostle Paul noted that believers would need to withdraw from the world to totally separate themselves from sinners (1 Corinthians 5:9–10). Although Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19), He remained sinless (Hebrews 4:15). He emphasized that He was not removing His followers from the world but was sending them into the world (John 17:18). When He issued the Great Commission, He commanded His followers to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to everyone (Matthew 28:19–20).
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: