Reflection: Proverbs 28: 26
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But he who walks wisely will be delivered.
The character of a fool: He trusts to his own heart, to his own wisdom and counsels, to his own strength and sufficiency, his own merit and righteousness, and good opinion he has himself; he that does so is a fool, for he trusts to that, not only which is deceitful above all things, but which has often deceived him. Matthew Henry Commentary.
Wisdom entails fear of Yahweh (1:7) and an aversion to self-reliance (3:5, 7; 26:12; 27:1; 28:11). To trust in one’s own heart is the epitome of folly because the heart is limited in its knowledge and also, apart from relationship with God, wicked. The sage would have agreed with Jeremiah, who in 17:9 states: “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs.
Although it seems logical that we know our needs and can look out for our own best interests, nothing is further from the truth. It is not specified whether the destruction is self-inflicted, imposed by Yahweh, or both. The NIV Application Commentary: Proverbs.
What is here censured is that presumptuous confidence in one’s own thoughts, plans, and imaginations which leads a man to neglect both God’s inspirations and the counsel of others. The best commentary on the gnome is Jer. 9:23, 24, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” The Pulpit Commentary.
Till we come to know what provision God has made for us in the Son of his love, we shall of necessity continue guilty of the folly, which is here reprobated. Now the Lord Jesus Christ is that person, who is sent of God for that very end, and “is of God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Here, then, we have all that our necessities can require. Seek, then, I pray you, the knowledge of this Saviour; and beg of God to shew you what an inexhaustible fulness is treasured up for you in him; and how impossible it is that you should ever fail, if only you trust in him. Once begin in truth to “live by faith in the Son of God,” and you “shall not be ashamed or confounded world without end. Horae Homileticae Volume 7: Proverbs.
This spiritual journey of transformation, from self to total dependence on God, is intractable, due principally to our fundamental human defect of double-mindedness. Hence, it would be dishonest to claim that we are no ‘fools’ for the better part of our existence. Nor would we dispute that many would desire to walk wisely in God’s ways. Submitting to God involves not only resisting the evil one, but also coming to Him with moral and spiritual purity (James 4:7-8; John 14:15). For those reasons, Jesus used a child to illustrate the simplicity of faith and trust, unfettered by worldly airs and preoccupations (Luke 18:15-17). As fallen spiritual beings (Rom 8:9-11), we learn through stops-and-starts connecting spiritually with an invisible holy God. Expressing faith in a child-like spirit is an intentional exercise (absolutely trusting in Who He is and what He has said: Heb 11:6), usually devoid of any adult faith-obstructive pretensions. This deliberate learning curve involves waiting on God (to cease striving, to put an end to a state of activity: Ps 46:10), and listening for and to Him (John 10:26-30). This critical abiding analogy is clearly demonstrated between the Father and Son, and He instructed us to adhere to likewise (John 15:1-11).