Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 21:4
"Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked is sin"
This verse has a number of interesting angles. One, it states that the internal director for those who live outside the Ten Commandments box is that they feel they are superior to others and ultimately to God's rules and God. They are first in their life. It is the light unto their path. They put themselves first and what they want. "What would satisfy me; what would make me feel even more superior to others?" is one of their constant questions. It is their guiding light. This is what is meant by the lamp of the wicked is sin. Now sin is the violation of God’s law, but its basic principle is selfishness. Sin always begins as selfishness. There is a place for self-interest, but sin at its heart is a “me-first” orientation. The world’s literature even celebrates this “light” with books and ideas like “looking out for number one” or “what do you really want?” If we move forward with our own desires without any boundaries, we will surely harm others and end outside of God’s law. This is why our guiding light cannot be selfishness, but it should be righteousness or God’s wisdom.
Jesus uses this type of metaphor in the Sermon on the Mount when He says that the lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye be single then your whole body is full of light; but if the light that is in you is darkness, then your whole body will be darkness. Jesus is saying the same thing as the truth of this verse in Proverbs: if the guiding light of your life is selfishness and keeping yourself superior to others, then you will surely be guided by that light into trouble and difficulty. Your guiding light will guide you into a lousy life. But if, on the other side, your guiding light is love and humility and helping others and meeting their needs, it will guide you into a wonderful existence full of relationships and joy.
haughty eyes and a proud heart
When you think first about yourself and what will be the best advantage for yourself, you have haughty eyes and a proud heart. This "me first" orientation is what all of us have as our normal orientation, and we have to be rescued out of this by the Lord. We must be saved from our natural orientation to life. If our orientation is that we are first in our life, then we are placing ourselves in the higher place. This is the position of haughtiness that is the problem. We certainly do have rights and needs, but we must not pursue those at the expense of others or at all costs. Pride is an excessive self-focus. It can manifest itself through an overbearing braggadocious nature or it can manifest itself in a whiny, introverted cynical-ness which doesn’t let anyone else have an opinion. A proud soul means that you have put yourself above the others around you.
What Solomon is saying is that if you allow selfishness to guide you, it will eventually lead you down a path that will be destructive and oppressive. It always does.