It’s one of the strangest phrases I’ve run across in Scripture. To be honest, I set it aside for a long time because I didn’t know what to make of it. Here it is:
He who makes his door high seeks destruction. (Proverb 17:19, ESV)
While scholars are a bit divided, the general consensus is that Solomon was warning against the risks of pride. In a sense, the proverb is a forerunner to “Keeping up with the Jones.” In ancient times, the entrance to a typical Palestinian house was of humble dimensions and very minimal ornamentation. Therefore, a doorway of any architectural pretensions would be uncommon, and would have been regarded as a token of extraordinary wealth or overt pride.
That’s quite a statement coming from Solomon, who probably lived in the most palatial dwelling on earth at the time! Since Solomon was the writer (as most accept), we can safely conclude that it is not the size of the dwelling that is the issue, but the size of the dweller’s pride that matters. I’ve met incredibly wealthy individuals who managed to maintain a humble spirit. Conversely, I’ve met many middle incomers who constantly want to outdo their neighbors. It’s that pride to appear “better than” others that Solomon says puts us at risk of personal destruction.
Elsewhere Solomon writes, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverb 16:18); and “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverb 29:23) What’s the way to avoid a “high door?” A low spirit – aka, humility.
At the risk of stepping on toes, may I gently ask, “How high are you trying to make your door?” –Dave
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