“Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom” (Prov. 18:1, KJV).
Another translation gives the wording, “He that separateth himself seeketh his own desire, and rageth against all sound wisdom” (Prov. 18:1, ASV). In addition, another translation gives the wording, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Prov. 18:1, ESV). It should be seen from this that the translation is difficult. Even commentaries differ on whether the passage is teaching a good principle like separating oneself from the world to seek the wisdom from God or is the passage teaching a bad principle like being aloof from God believing that he is smarter than the wisdom of God. When looking into the Hebrew text, the first word of the verse centers on desire. This same word is found in Genesis 3:6 with reference to how the woman desired the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, it appears that Proverbs 18:1 is indicating a prohibitive thought and not a pleasing one. Seeking to make oneself what he is not is a danger among men throughout time. Presumptuous pride personified in elitism is unbiblical and ugly to the core. Consider three matters that hold true with this selfish ambition.
- Self-absorbed. The very next passage in Proverbs 18 states, “A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself” (Prov. 18:2). Another translation states, “A fool hath no delight in understanding, but only that his heart may reveal itself” (Prov. 18:2, ASV). There is no question that this passage is destructive in its import. The self-confident fool cares nothing for true understanding. He only delights to tell anyone who would listen all that he knows. He himself is his greatest topic of discussion. He would fit well in the “me-generation.” The whole world revolves around him and his feelings, wishes, thinking, etc. True biblical love is the opposite of this. Paul wrote of agape love, “charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (1 Cor. 13:4) and “seeketh not her own” (1 Cor. 13:5).
- Self-assessed. Solomon wrote further in Proverbs, “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him” (Prov. 18:17). Again, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand” (Prov. 19:21). The self-absorbed evaluate things according to their own eyes. Solomon wrote of the fool, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise” (Prov. 12:15). Faulty standards make for confusion and corruption. This type of person is illustrated in Luke 18:11-12.
- Self-approved. Solomon wrote, “It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory” (Prov. 25:27). Again, “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Prov. 26:12). Paul warned of those in Corinth who evaluated things improperly and thus were not wise (cf. 2 Cor. 10:12). He closed the thought-provoking paragraph with the words, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (2 Cor. 10:18). Elitism blinds and ultimately dooms the soul. May God help all to see such dangers and act wisely.