Question: "What does the Bible mean when it speaks against haughty eyes?"
Answer: The word haughty is defined by Merriam-Webster as “blatantly and disdainfully proud.” The word is always used in the Bible in the evil sense of “arrogant, disdainful and setting oneself above others”; it is often set in contrast to being humble.
In Proverbs 6:16-19 is a list of “six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him.” The first one listed is “haughty eyes,” followed by such things as a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a false witness, and feet quick to run to evil. Haughty eyes are said to be sin in Proverbs 21:4, along with a proud heart. To have haughty eyes is to have an arrogant demeanor; it’s an overall attitude of one’s heart that causes one to scorn or “look down on” others. The haughty person sets himself above others, and ultimately above God.
When we are haughty, we become the center of our universe; everything revolves around us. There is little, if any, concern for what others think and no consideration of the will of God. Pride, haughtiness, is the trunk of the tree from which all other sins sprout. When we are at the center of our world, then nothing that we want is unlawful to us.
God is resistant to haughtiness. Over and over in Scripture, we read that God brings down the haughty and the proud (2 Samuel 2:28; Psalm 18:27; Isaiah 2:11, 5:15; Ezekiel 16:50). Twice in Proverbs, we read that haughtiness precedes destruction (16:18, 18:12). The New Testament is clear on the dangers of arrogance, warning repeatedly against it. Both James and Peter warn that God actively opposes the proud (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).
None of us are immune to pride. The Bible tells us of otherwise good people who were brought down in one way or another by pride. The godly king Uzziah was struck with leprosy because, in arrogance, he tried to take the place of the priest and burn incense before the Lord (2 Chronicles 26:16). Similarly, Hezekiah’s pride in his possessions eventually brought the discipline of God on him (2 Chronicles 32:25). Peter’s prideful statement that he would never forsake Jesus (Matthew 26:33-35) was found to be false when he denied Him (Matthew 26:69-75).
The danger of pride is the reason for the many exhortations to humility in Scripture. Meditation on some key passages can fight the tendency we all have toward pride. First Corinthians 4:7 tells us that all we have is a gift, for which we should be thankful. Both 1 Peter 5:6 and James 4:6 encourage humility by saying that God gives grace to the humble. Isaiah 66:2 goes so far as to say that humility in the heart of a person actually draws God’s attention. Humility of heart gives us a proper perspective. A proud heart – haughty eyes, if you will – renders a person intractable. Such a person is resisted by God.