Bridges on Proverbs 28:11
 
Charles Bridges on Proverbs 28:11
 
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11.  The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out. {own...: Heb. eyes}
 
To be truly wise, and wise in our own conceit, are two things often confounded, but essentially opposite. But though riches do not always bring wisdom (Job 32:9), the rich man often pretends to it, and ascribes his success to his own sagacity, though he may be manifestly simple and foolish. The Apostle therefore, with a reference to this besetting temptation, directs a “charge to them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded.” (1 Timothy 6:17.) The prophet brings the wealthy prince of Tyrus on the stage, and shews him to us in all the folly of his conceit. (Ezekiel 28:2.) Obviously indeed the rich man has many advantages above the poor, in leisure and opportunities of instruction. Yet on the other hand, worldly elevation operates unfavorably. He is shut out from many opportunities of Christian instruction. The atmosphere of flattery clouds that faculty of self-knowledge, which is the basis of true wisdom. And how natural is it to think himself as wise as his flatterers represent him; as much above his neighbors in understanding as in station! Hence he becomes dogmatical in over-weening conceit; fond every way of displaying his fancied superiority. Yet, as in the case of Naaman’s servants (2 Kings 5:13), the intelligent good understanding of a poor man may search him out, and see through this false gloss. Specially, when endued with a measure of spiritual understanding, the poor man may expose his superior to just mortification. (John 9:30-34.) Indeed the universe possesses not a more dignified character than the poor wise man. Did not the incarnate Lord honor this station supremely, by taking it on himself? (Philippians 2:7.) To walk in his footsteps, in his spirit, is wisdom, honor, and happiness, infinitely beyond what this poor world of vanity can afford.