Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
Who would not want to be self-confident? Self-confidence can be inspiring. These people know what they want to do, and they seem to have an ability to get things done. They are focused and not easily swayed or distracted by even the most tempting distraction. Self-confident people often have the discipline to stay on course. Self-confidence does not seem vulnerable to fear or anxiety the way many others struggle. These people are not afraid of tomorrow and execute plans as if they control all the variables that could undermine a good finish. There is much to admire in people who grasp the landscape of the world in which they live and seem as agile as a cat in dealing with the challenges of moving things forward. They are larger than life by dealing with obstacles in such a seamless manner that it seems quite surreal to others.
On the other hand, self-confidence can easily become pride. Self-confident people can start believing they rank above the people they are around. They easily see the flaws in others and become impatient with those who cannot keep up. They struggle with those who do not seem “to get it” and it becomes difficult to work with others. Their attitude is interpreted as pride or arrogance to others, especially to people who do not share the same personality. They are often very good at using people to get things done but they are often not good with people.
The text above runs with the problem of pride and the value of humility. It warns of a person boasting about tomorrow since, in fact, they really do not know what will happen and they cannot control all the circumstances. Only a proud person would think that because they have planned tomorrow that automatically guarantees it will happen. James 4:13-16 warns us about this very thing:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance.
The second admonition is about self-praise. Proverbs warns about self-promotion, exalting oneself and bragging about how important one is to the process of life. This is a great principle but a hard one to live out in our culture. We all know that regardless if you are applying for job, applying for a position of any kind, the idea is to sell yourself and “brag” about how you bring the appropriate skillset to fulfill the expectation of that particular responsibility. I will suggest that that is different than what this text is talking about. Proverbs warns against fools whose general disposition is that they are special above others and they have no problem telling others about it… it is, by definition, the way of the fool (Prov. 27:3).
The alternative is humility. The text encourages people to let others sing your praises and not to be “blowing your own horn” so to speak. Self-promotion always leaves a bad taste with others. For the believer, the issue goes beyond this to the simple fact that we promote Christ not ourselves. However, the point of this proverb is simply that it is far better to have others praise you than praising yourself. Good wisdom from a pretty trustworthy source.