Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit?
There is more hope of a fool than of him.
What type of man is worse off than a fool? It is none other than the “man wise in his own conceit.” Literally this man is “wise in his own eyes (`ayin)” (cf. ESV). That be Bible-speak for sinful pride. The point being made in Proverbs 26:12 is that pride is nasty stuff.
So, note to self, Beware.
Mediate on it a bit. Tread out the meaning. How can it be that there is more hope for a fool than for a man wise in his own conceit? How can it be that a fool is better off than a proud man? Perhaps there is more hope for a fool, as they say in the double modal speech of the South, because even he might-could hear the cry of others, e.g., Lady Wisdom (Proverbs 8:1-11). The proud man, however, doesn’t hear a thing. Why? Because a proud man must-not-can listen to anybody.
A proud man does not listen. That is the whole point of the observation that he is “wise in his own conceit.” The pride of a proud man is his self-conceit. A man’s self-conceit makes it virtually impossible for him to listen to anybody else. There is no urgency for a proud man to listen to others. He views himself as the measure of all things. Thus, a man intoxicated with himself only has ears tuned to his own voice. Consider Matthew Henry’s observation that proud men see no need to listen to others:
Seest thou a man? Yes, we see many a one, wise in his own conceit, who has some little sense, but is proud of it, thinks it much more than it is, more than any of his neighbors, have, and enough, so that he needs no more, has such a conceit of his own abilities as makes him opinionative, dogmatical, and censorious; and all the use he makes of his knowledge is that it puffs him up.
Yeah, pride is nasty stuff. All of us need to beware of being proud, of not listening, of being “opinionative, dogmatical, and censorious” (meaning severely critical).
I am a pastor; therefore, I have opinions, I hold to dogma, and I believe there is a time and place for legitimate criticism. But so long as I know how to listen, I do not fear transmuting into a man wise in his own conceit. After all, listening is how a man, who is opinionated, dogmatic, and critical, builds a bridge over the pitfall of pride. Which is why I have high hopes that here at The Parbar Collective we will truly be a “Collective” where together we can both speak and listen, listen and speak.