Proverbs 18:12

ESV Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
NIV Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
NASB Before destruction the heart of a person is haughty, But humility goes before honor.
CSB Before his downfall a person's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.
NLT Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.
KJV Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.

What does Proverbs 18:12 mean?

An earlier proverb (Proverbs 16:18) warned about arrogant, self-assured pride setting a person up for the shock of brutal reality. A similar statement was also made in Proverbs 11:2. This completes a trio of verses (Proverbs 18:10–11) which helps the reader correctly assign priorities. God is our only infallible source of strength. Money and personal vanity cannot give us those assurances.

In contrast to arrogance, which sets up a person for failure, humility creates the best conditions for success. Life is uncertain, so no effort is guaranteed to succeed (James 4:13–16). Yet those who humbly seek God's will (Proverbs 1:7; 3:35) and the advice of others (Proverbs 11:14; 18:13, 15, 17) are more likely to achieve their goals.

The apostle Peter learned the truth of Solomon's words. He made a brash, prideful promise to the Lord: that he would never forsake Him even if others did (John 13:36–38). His pride betrayed him. He fled when Jesus was arrested (Matthew 26:56) and denied knowing Him to a servant girl and others in the high priest's courtyard who asked (John 18:15–18, 25–27). After Jesus restored Peter following the resurrection, Peter put aside personal pride (John 21:15–19). Yet even as an apostle, Peter sometimes struggled with image and reputation (Galatians 2:11–14).

Paul advised Timothy not to appoint newly converted men to positions of spiritual authority. His concern was that power without trained discernment (Hebrews 5:14) could lead such a person to "become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:6). To the contrary, the Lord will honor a humble person. James 4:10 exhorts: "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." The counsel of the world is to put yourself ahead of others. Scripture commands a believer to put themselves humbly at the Lord's disposal in the service of others (Philippians 2:3).
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