Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
This is another innocent misquote by many. The Bible does not say that pride goes before a fall, but before destruction. Now, it could be argued that there is not much difference between pride and a haughty spirit and between destruction and a fall. No harm done, right? Probably not, but as short as this verse is you would think that we could get it right.
First, this is a common layout of Hebrew poetry. Solomon used a lot of comparisons and duplications with similarities. This one is an example of two similar ways of saying basically the same things.
Second, there is a difference in the definitions of the four words.
pride – from the letters of it’s root it literally means “look, strong pride” (gimmel – pride; aleph – strong; hey – behold)
haughty – from the letters of it’s root it literally means “look, prideful house” (gimmel – pride; bet – house; hey – behold)
destruction – from the letters of it’s root it literally means “destruction of the head of the house (Shin – destroy; bet – house; resh – head)
fall – from the letters of it’s root it literally means ” staff or control destroyed as a setting sun (Qof – rising or setting sun; shin – destroy; lamed – staff)
Does this change our understanding about this verse? Probably not. The point is that although saying that pride comes before a fall, although it is not an exact quote, it is a reality. That is why Solomon took time to paint this picture twice.
What is the message? Stay away from pride. Isaiah gives a vivid description of this principle in the fall of Lucifer or Satan:
Isaiah 14:12 How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit.
Jesus also describes the fall in Luke 10:18 “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”