“Before a downfall the heart is haughty” indicates a starting point with someone sitting up high (“haughty”) — at least in their own “heart” and mind. But thinking “I’m all that!” is not a very safe place to be.
This high perch is the place from which he or she will have a “downfall.”
In contrast, “humility comes before honor.” The starting point here is down low. But it is, in fact, just a stepping stone up to “honor.”
I’d like to suggest that both starting points are self-imposed. I choose that “haughty heart”…or I can choose to “humble” myself. Either way, it’s my call!
Where I end up will also be determined — to the largest degree — by my own choices. My “downfall” or “honor” is going to be more about my thinking than anything else.
Admittedly, there is nothing in this verse about wealth or power. And God isn’t even mentioned.
What happens in this wise saying really has only my fingerprints all over it! It’s going to be about me and my attitudes. I either set myself up to fail (“downfall”) or succeed (“honor”).
There’s a modern proverb I think makes an appropriate corollary. While made famous by gossip columnist Walter Winchell, it apparently originating with Hollywood playwright Wilson Miznor in the early 1930s.
Miznor once told a young up-and-coming motion picture star…”be kind to everyone on the way up, you’ll meet the same people on the way down!”