Pride, anger, and plotting evil are all very foolish endeavors. They may go a while without any kind of retaliating incident, but they are the kind of actions that store up trouble in the end. That is what this proverb proverb wawar us about today.
There is no mincing words at the beginning of this proverb. We are told that things like exalting ourselves or plotting evil are "foolish" things to do. In fact this proverb is trying to warn us about the consequences of these actions. This is done in the classic "if/then" fashion that we are used to seeing in the book of Proverbs. Therefore we are being warned that if we engage in pride or plotting evil - bad things are on the horizon for us.
The actions we are warned against here are twofold. First we have the sin of exalting ourselves. God values humility - and opposes the proud and those who would exalt themselves in the eyes of others. I knew of an educator who put himself up for awards in the educational system in which he worked. He genuinely thought he was worthy of the honor that these awards offered. The problem was that because he "exalted himself" in this way, he was seen as a joke among his fellow educators. Elsewhere in Proverbs we read that we need to let another praise us - and not our own lips. To speak in praise of self - is to speak foolish words of pride that, according to Scripture, goes before a fall. The second action we are warned against is that of plotting evil against another. We all know of the end of those who do this. Either they are caught in the process and shamed - or - they succeed in their plotting and it only causes them to become further corrupt. Whichever way this goes it is a foolish endeavor that often takes this lives of the ones who give themselves to such overt evil.
What God warns against though is that these things in and of themsleves cause a churning of anger that will end in further strife. Two examples are given to reminds us ot this. The first is the churning of butter. When milk is put into a butter churn it is a liquid. But after you spend time churning that butter over and over again - it eventually turns to butter. The second example is that of pressing someones nose. The idea here is that of not just pressing down on a nose - but twisting it violently. This, we are told, will produce blood. Both of these things are undeniable truths. You do these things - and the results are destined to follow.
The reason these two examples are given is because God wants us to know that the churning of anger will produce strife. When I first read this I fully understood how the churning of anger in plotting evil would produce strife. Consider someone who churns with their anger inside of them - and they submit themselves to their anger to the point to where they begin actively plotting evil against the one with whom they are angry. The plot unfolds - and the evil is done. The result WILL be strife. The one against whom the plot was carried out will become very angry - and strife between these two will last a very long time. The one I was a little confused about is the practice of someone exalted themselves. How does that produce anger and strife? Then it became clear to me that when someone exalts themselves - others around them resent it. They resent it because it is the natural desire of fallen man to be exalted. So the anger comes when they exalt themsleves - and I react because deep down - I think I should have been exalted. When this happens - I will begin to go out of my way (even subconsciously) to show how the person who exalted themselves does not deserve to be exalted. Another response is to have a resentment against this person because I despise the fact that they have exalted themselves.
God promises that these kind of actions are going to produce strife. They will reveal the one guilty of them is a fool - and eventually their lives are going to be surrounded by problems that come from anger being churned up in themselves and others. Jesus promised blessing, not the proud and self-exalting ones, but rather to peacemakers - and to those who humble themselves in the sight of God. The lives that seek peace and the blessing and exalting of others will have far more peace and joy than the fools who only think of themselves.