A prideful man will always eventually pay for his arrogance with forced humility. Let me explain what I mean by forced humility. I can speak of this because I am unfortunately somewhat of an expert in this field - and with no sense of pride in bearing that title.
The word "pride" in this proverb is the Hebrew word "ga'awah" and it means to be prideful, arrogance, and oddly enough - enraged. The word is used of a sea that is in the midst of a storm and whose waters are raging or swelling up and down as the storm rages. Pride is seen here as something swelling within our hearts - and it causes us to rage against others who do not seem to recognize that we are as awesome as we think. This word is used to speak of the haughty, prideful attitude of the wicked - just before he is destroyed. Thus it seems to speak of pride at its highest point - enraged at the lack of respect, the lack of honor, and the lack of others serving us. When we embrace this kind of over-inflated view of ourselves, we are about to be brought very low. That is the warning of this proverb.
The idea of being brought low is taken from a Hebrew word that mean to humiliate or to bring down. It speaks of something that is sinking down. The word was used to speak of bringing down trees. The fall of a tree is something powerful and quick. It is a well-known event - as the falling of the tree makes a huge sound in the forest. This word was also used of how influential people would fall before the eyes of people in a society. It described the process of their humiliation as they were brought much lower. The ultimate humiliation is when God has to remind us that we are not nearly what we think we are. In fact - without Him we can do nothing that will be of any eternal value.
We read that the humble spirit will obtain honor. Humble is the word "sapal" which means to be low, meek, and of a contrite spirit. A meek man is not a weak man - contrary to that conception, the word actually means strength under control. God has given to man great strength and the ability to manifest power here on earth. But if that power is out from under God's control - it's effects can be disastrous. A humble man realizes that whatever power and authority he has is a gift from God and is to be used at His sovereign direction. The other telling part of this definition is the word "contrite." That word indicates that someone is broken and is seeking forgiveness. The humble man understands that he is fallen. He is sinful - and he has sinned against God. Knowing this, the humble man recognizes that he is fallible and needs guidance. He is wicked and needs righteous direction. Thus he is contrite over his sins and fallen condition - and turns to God for forgiveness, for grace, and for leadership in what he does. When a man takes that direction in life - he will obtain honor.
Recently I've been reading a biography of George Washington. The one thing above all others that has amazed me about this man is the humility he maintained. The humility that allowed him to listen closely to all his commanders - and even his soldiers was a strength, not a weakness. The way that he carried himself, as a humble servant of his soldiers and of the people of the Colonies, was why he earned the trust of his soldiers in some of the worst moments of the war. It is also what led him to decline the idea of him becoming king - or even gathering to himself too much power by only serving two terms as president. He constantly deferred praise to others and shunned being lifted up and honored. What did our first president receive for such actions? He obtained honor that has lasted for hundreds of years.
The ultimate humility though is reserved for our Lord Jesus Christ. He humbled Himself to come as a man - and be a servant when He was every ounce God of the universe. He humbled Himself even to the point of death on a cross. It is a humility that will never again be matched by anything anyone could ever do. That humility was honored by His Father as Jesus was given the name above every other name. He was honored in being the Savior of all mankind. Oh, that we would learn from His example - and from others who embraced humility and were honored for it in the end. This is the way toward honor - and it always will be till the end of the age.