The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.
Rich people may think they are wise, but a poor person with discernment can see right through them.
I listed three different translations of this verse, because I thought it would be helpful for us to use them in our discussions today. There are verses in both the Old Testament and in the New, that warn us not to be wise in our own eyes, or in our conceits:
Proverb 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
Proverb 26:12 Do you see a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Solomon notes in Ecclesiastes that rich people are not necessarily all wise, and poor people are not necessarily foolish. (Ecc. 9:11) The poor man or woman who has wisdom, can "see right through" the wealthy person who is exhibiting foolish behavior, but thinks they are wiser and better than everyone else.
I believe this verse is not only a warning to us, to watch out and not think ourselves wiser or better than others --- it is also an admonition for us to use our own wisdom and understanding when we observe others.
We can rely on Him to give us wisdom. Job said:
But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. Job 32:8We need to be careful not to interpret cleverness, resourcefulness, or success for wisdom. And we need to make certain that we model the understanding that comes from above, in our dealings with others. If we don't, and we think "more highly of ourselves than we ought," they may see right through us!
Lord, help me to be a testimony to the wisdom and understanding that come from a close walk in fellowship with You.