Proverbs 28:25

Pride vs. Trust

He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife:
but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.


1. There is a considerable difference among the translations of this verse.

2. The difference has to do with the meaning of the word translated in the KJV as “proud.” Other translations insert the word “greedy” in its place.

3. It is a simple disagreement: the word has a couple of meanings. It could go either way. Both make sense.

4. It is clearly a judgment call for the interpreter. I have chosen to stick with the KJV translation because it seems to fit the greater context of the book of Proverbs (and the Bible as a whole) better.

He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife:

1. “Proud” defined

a. Brown-Driver-Briggs: Wide, large; widened, enlarged, expanded; broaden; open place.

b. Dictionary of Bible Languages: Roomy; enlarge; broaden; find relief.

c. But the term also is used a couple of different ways – what one scholar described as “different semantic extensions”:
• greedy (enlarging one’s possessions for selfish ends);
• boast/pride; (puffed up? Enlarging one’s view of self?)

d. It clearly is not to be taken in the literal sense in our Proverb: wide, expanded, open space, roomy. That meaning does not fit at all.

e. That leaves us with a disagreement as to which of the two “different semantic extensions” is meant here: greedy or pride.

f. That is why various translations differ.

g. The dictionary definition does not help us make that choice. Thus, we rely on the context.

2. Proud heart

a. Heart refers to the soul… the self life… the essence of life… the person… a breathing soul… a living being.

b. Thus, Solomon is speaking of a proud PERSON… his inner self life is focused on self.

c. A proud person always puts himself first… above others.

d. That is the essence of pride: “Me first; I am the greatest.”

3. Stirreth up strife

a. Stirs up: Excites; stirs up; engages in.

b. Strife: Contention; discord; dissention; verbal quarrel.

c. Solomon’s point in Proverbs 28:25 is that a proud person (a proud soul) stirs up trouble, contention and strife wherever he goes.

4. There is more than one root to contention according to the following passages:

a. I Cor. 3:3 – For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

b. Prov. 10:12 – Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

c. Prov. 15:18 – A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

d. Prov. 16:28 – A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. (an evil spirit)

e. Prov. 26:21 – As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. (a contentious spirit)

5. Prov. 13:10 – “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”

a. While all of these passages are true. There may be various causes for controversy.

b. However, at the root of it all there is PRIDE.

c. Pride is so insidious. Pride is at the root of wrath and unjustified anger. It is at the root of carnality. It is at the root of hatred.

d. ONLY by pride cometh contention means that ALL contention has as its ultimate source, fallen, human pride.

e. Pride results in nothing but contention and strife.

f. The proud soul cannot tolerate any competition. He cannot stand to have someone oppose his views or contradict his statements. Therefore, he causes contention and trouble.

g. This is a good reason to translate the term “proud” rather than “greedy” in Proverbs 28:25.

h. It is a PROUD heart (person) who stirs up strife—every time.

i. Get rid of the pride, and the controversy ceases.

j. Phil. 2:3 – Christlikeness demands this: let NOTHING be done through strife or vainglory. In other words, deal with the selfish pride!

k. Prov. 13:10 ends with the thought: “with the well advised is wisdom.”
• It is wise to be humble. It is wise to confess pride and forsake it.
• It is wise because pride is at the root of our troubles and contentions.
• In the midst of controversy and strife, we would be “well advised” to HUMBLE ourselves and follow Paul’s advice: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

But he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

1. In contrast to proud soul, we now have a trusting soul.

2. Consider the contrast between pride and trust/faith.

a. In this proverb, pride is seen as the opposite of trust or faith.

b. This demonstrates that pride is at the root of unbelief.

c. Self-centered pride is the essence of unbelief. It says the following:
• “I am not a sinner. I am pretty good.”
• “I don’t need a Savior. I can make it on my own.”
• “I don’t have to trust in God. I can lean on my own understanding.”
• “I don’t need God’s strength. I can handle life myself.”
• Pride and unbelief go hand in hand.

3. However, the person in the second half of our proverb is trusting in the Lord.

a. He is not proud. He is not trusting in himself.

b. He is not proud; he does not put self first. He puts God first.

c. This person does not have to exalt self or put his own opinion first. He commits his case to the Lord and trusts God for the outcome. He is totally dependent upon God and His grace.

d. Because he trusts in the Lord and leaves his case to God to resolve, he doesn’t have an ax to grind. He doesn’t feel it necessary to fight for his way first all the time.

e. He walks by faith and lives in peace with others.

4. He “shall be made fat.”

a. This was considered a blessing in Bible days.

b. The Hebrew word literally means anointed; but it often is used of a dry object being smeared or covered in fat. (Think of dry leather and putting some grease on it to make it supple.)

c. The term came to mean: prosperous, to have an abundance; well fed, well taken care of… and thus satisfied.

d. It indicated that life was good; things were going well.

e. Thus, instead of living life like the proud person—constantly in the midst of quarrels, controversies, and contention, this trusting soul is well taken care of. He is full and satisfied. His life is full of blessings—not trouble.

f. Prov. 13:4 – “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (meaning, he will prosper and do well)

5. The proud, self-centered soul will suffer contention and strife wherever he goes. The trusting soul will experience blessing wherever he goes.