Living The Quran
From Issue: 942 [Read full issue]
Luqman (Luqman) Sura 31: Verse 18
Turn not your cheek at men in scorn is understood as a general command not to be arrogant with others, especially when conversing with them, but is also said to refer specifically to shunning a companion for whom one had affection. Others understand it as an injunction to avoid speaking in a boastful manner.
The injunction to walk not exultantly upon the earth means that one's reason for walking about should not be vanity and insolence. In the contemporary period, this phrase is invoked by some environmentalists to argue against human beings' arrogant behavior toward nature, which is seen as an abuse of their role as God's vicegerents on earth.
When seen in relation to the injunctions Luqman gives his son in previous verses, this verse can be understood to mean that once people have achieved the level where they truly enjoin right and forbid wrong, they should not be condescending toward others or put on airs, and they should not turn their backs on those who seek guidance.
"The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary" - Seyyed Hossein Nasr