This proverb I only partially understand. A man who loves to argue loves sin. The second part, about how building a high gate invites destruction, is this metaphorical, like personally building a barrier of cynicism, sarcasm, and arguments, being purposefully confrontational?
@plantaseed It appears that the gate refers to a person’s mouth, so this would be an individual who is boastful and a braggart, which would invite destruction. See reference below.
@plantaseed as the first part of the verse speaks to a man’s love for contention, I would probably assume that this latter part is related. To be frank, it puts me in mind of that scene from the movie Titanic where Billy Zane’s character says “God Himself couldn’t sink that ship,” as if to challenge God to prove his opinion wrong (which, of course, He did).
Think through the imagery. A gate area – either to a manor or a city – is a place of access or denial. In Solomon’s day, the gates of a city were fortified, strong. It was a place where business was conducted, where people were vetted and examined and, if necessary, cast out.
As strong as a gate might, though, it’s still the most vulnerable point in the wall, because it’s the point that actually opens. A friend for whom the gate would be thrown wide wouldn’t care how strong the gate is. But for an enemy, it is perhaps the single most attractive target in the wall.
In the passage, we’re not talking about someone who “builds” his gate strong, but rather someone who TALKS about the strength of his gate. In the KJV, it says he “exalts” the gate. Again, for a friend, the gate is a non-issue, but for an enemy, there are only two reactions – to call off any attack in fear of being repelled, or to accept the challenge and see just how strong that gate really is.
In application, I’d say that Proverbs 17:19 is warning us against pride – not because it’s unjustified (though it often is) or sinful (again, though it is), but because of the challenge our pride represents for those who would love to see us knocked down a peg. Or as Paul told the church at Corinth, “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”