Category Archives: pride/humility

Do I Hear Nathan?

Proverbs 17:13

“Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.”

Did Solomon Remember?

I can’t help but wonder if Solomon was thinking of his own house when he wrote this. How well did he know the words that Nathan spoke unto his father, King David?

Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” – 2 Samuel 12:9-10 ESV

Uriah had been nothing but a loyal, devoted soldier. Even when David tried to get him to go home to be with his wife, Uriah couldn’t bear the thought of being comfortable while his fellow soldiers were sleeping on the battlefield (2 Samuel 11:11). And what did Uriah receive in return for his loyalty? A death sentence.

Was Solomon thinking of his brother, Absalom, the one who tried to kill his father? Did he think of his sister, Tamar, who was raped by her brother, Amnon (2 Samuel 13:10-20)? I wonder what he thought when he looked around at his family. Did he ever think to himself, “Why, dad? Why?”

Do I Hear Nathan?

It is one thing to reward evil with evil. Most people understand the concept of “an eye for an eye.” However, it is a vile, ruthless, selfish man who accepts good from another, only to give evil in return. He deserves whatever bad may come.

That should make all of us think. Has God been good to us? What have we given Him in return?

The prophet Nathan told David, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). What would he tell us?

By the Way

On a different note, some say the Bible cannot be the Word of God because it defames the character of the prophets. They (Muslims) say stories like the one told in 2 Samuel 11 and 12 are proof the Bible is a fabrication. The Koran, they say, would never, never allow the moral character of a prophet to be questioned, but would hold such role models in high esteem, blotting out any record of sin.

Fortunately for us, the Bible IS true. It doesn’t candy-coat the bad but shows how God can work through flawed, fallen men. The Bible, because it is true, highlights the goodness and grace of God, not the righteousness of man.

David was “the man,” but David was human. Unlike the “perfect prophets” in other religions, David prayed, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin [emphasis added]” (Psalm 51:2).

Don’t let evil move into your house.


Golden Calves

Proverbs 17:11  

“An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.”
“Evil people are eager for rebellion, but they will be severely punished” (NLT).

History is full of stories of rebellion. Some succeeded, but many failed. While not all of those who rebel against authority are evil, motive is rarely taken into consideration when rebellions are crushed.

One famous incident in British history concerned six agricultural laborers who reacted to the unfair treatment that they and their colleagues suffered. They met together and under an oath of secrecy formed a trade union. The local squire was not happy about the prospect of a unionized workforce, and action was taken to stamp out this act of rebellion. Six workers were arrested and charged with taking an illegal oath. They were sentenced to transportation to Australia and seven years hard labor.

While many of us today would probably fancy a trip down under to take in the sights and the sun, this was no tourist trip. Transportation to Australia and the conditions for convicts who were sent to Australia were brutal. While few returned, the Tolpuddle Martyrs as they became known were pardoned and freed after three years. Freedom came after a huge campaign by the British working class, and the presentation of a petition containing 800,000 names to Parliament.

Rebelling against the establishment, or against the rulers of this world is one thing. But what about the rebellion of humanity against God? The Bible records many examples involving the people of Israel. Their attitude soon after their miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt seems unbelievable. After Moses climbed Mount Sinai to meet with God, the people persuaded Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship instead of God.

It is easy to judge others. We can look back in amazement at the golden calf incident without considering whether there are any golden calves in our lives. We may compare ourselves with the Tolpuddle Martyrs and think that because we are not engaging in an evil rebellion we will not receive a severe punishment. But consider a child receiving punishment from a loving parent. My own experience of punishment for childhood misdemeanors was that the hurt I saw in my parents’ eyes was more of a punishment than anything they devised to persuade me that I should mend my ways.

crossWe have a loving God in heaven who allows us to call Him Father. His Son took the severest punishment possible so that God did not have to punish us. So why do we rebel against Him? If we consider the hurt and the pain He suffers when we choose golden calves in our lives instead of Him, then perhaps we will begin to understand the extent and the cost of His love for us, and how much He values it when we return His love, and destroy our golden calves.


Making Fun of the Poor

Proverbs 17:5

“Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.”

Me? Poor?

I live in one of the richest countries on the planet, so who am I to talk about being poor? Compared to some people, I am rich as a king. Even though I may not have the best of everything, or even the third or fourth best, I am still better off than people who have to live in cardboard boxes under a bridge.

Even thought I may not be rich, there are plenty of people worse off than me. However, I do know a little about what it’s like to be mocked. My sister and I were made fun of because my parents couldn’t always afford to buy their children new clothes. When we lived in a house that had no electricity or running water, and one could see the sky through the walls, we were mocked. I know how that feels.

For that matter, I know how it feels to drive a school bus full of public high school football players to a game at a private school where the tuition for one student exceeds $40,ooo a year, not to mention room and board. Not only do the football players get sneered at, but bus drivers like me get treated as “common help.”

Me? Like God?

The lesson that Solomon wants us to learn is that when we mock or make fun of those who poorer than us, we make ourselves out to be better than God. “What? How’s that possible?” you ask.

What if God treated us the way we sometimes treat others? Seriously, is the richest man in the world, even if he owned the whole world, as rich as the Maker of the Universe? The richest of the rich in this world are living in inestimable poverty before the King of Heaven. Aren’t we glad He doesn’t make fun of us?

Thankfully we have a loving Lord who humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8), that we, the poorest of all, could become fellow-heirs with Christ (Eph. 3:6). If He doesn’t feel it proper to mock lowly sinners such as I, then who am I to mock one less fortunate than me?

Wishing Bad

But what if you have never been one to make fun of the poor, or the rich? Does that get you off the hook? Maybe. That is, unless you’ve ever been one to talk of the rich with words like, “I hope they go broke,” or, “I’d love to see them crash that fancy car!”

I asked my daughter, “How do rich people make fun of poor people?” She said, “I don’t know…all I ever hear is all the poor people griping and whining about the rich.” Hmmm.

What did Solomon say? “He that is glad at calamities will not go unpunished.” Maybe we all would be a little better off if we learned to be content.


Honking Escalade

Proverbs 16:19

“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

Rich and Poor

Not all poor people are humble. Not all rich people are proud. We should never jump to conclusions and assume that just because a man is poor he is humble, or prideful if he is rich.

That being said, today’s proverb addresses the heart of man, and that heart is usually more proud when he is rich, humble when he is poor. For instance, the people who blew their horn at my wife and I, as we sat at a stop sign and couldn’t go anywhere, were in a big Cadillac Escalade. They honked at us, but we didn’t honk at the little old lady in front of us who couldn’t decide where to go. (That actually happened just a few moments before writing this)

Riches and Poverty

This proverb also addresses the misconception that wealth is better than poverty. Sure, to have more money and possessions can be a great blessing, but it can also be a curse far worse than being destitute.

This verse also addresses the misguided belief that “the one with the most” wins. Many only have “the most” because they have taken advantage of those who have little.

The NIV translates this verse, “Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” It might not always be the poor and rich we’re talking about, but the oppressed and the oppressors. Either way, the one who is worse off in God’s eyes is the one who sits with those who have become wealthy by taking from others, and is proud of it.

Be Content

Let us consider Proverbs 16:19 as we observe the words of the Apostle Paul…

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

Ultimately, it’s better to have nothing and a humble heart, than have everything and be at odds with our God.

(I hope the horn on that Escalade breaks and starts blowing when they’re behind a State Trooper)

 

 


… and in the darkness bind them

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Fantastic

G. K. Chesterton once wrote in the book Heretics, “We all believe fairy-tales, and live in them.”1

Think about it: our lives are based on dreams we have of our future, movie theaters bring in billions of dollars every year, and even Jesus spoke with fictional stories. We call those stories parables.

One of the greatest parables of the Twentieth Century was written by a friend of Chesterton, J. R. R. Tolkien, and is titled The Lord of the Rings.

Bound

The main antagonist of the book, though barely ever seen, is Sauron. He considered himself pretty important.

To attempt to control the world, known as Middle Earth, he created rings for each of the species that had power: Elves, Dwarfs, and Men.

He had one more for himself, The One Ring. Inscribed in magical letters on the ring was this:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Sauron used the one tool to control others that he possessed and that he knew the other races possessed: pride.

There was just one thing he never expected: two little creatures with no agenda other than to protect their comfortable lives. He expected great armies to attack him, because he is so great there is nothing less they could do.

He did not expect two little hobbits to walk quietly through the back door, destroying all of his hopes and dreams in one quick second.

His pride trapped him in a way he never expected.

Satan’s Trap

That old Devil, Satan, attempted to take the rightful place of God. It was his pride getting in his way that caused him to be cast out of God’s presence. Eventually he will be cast into the Lake of Fire of eternal destruction.

He realizes it is not enough to attack God, so he created rings to give the (seemingly) most powerful beings on Earth.

Each ring looks different, but they use the same trick as Sauron’s: our pride.

Every time we give in to our pride, we side with Satan. Every time we side with Satan, we guarantee our destruction.

Great God, help us overcome our pride. Teach us true humility, that we may not fall away from Your grace and forgiveness but into Your loving arms.


Hand-in-Hand Pride

Proverbs 16:5

“Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.”

We Are the World

How many of you were even alive when Michael Jackson came out with a song to unite the world in a spirit of giving? “We are the world…we are the children…we are the one’s who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…” It was 1985, the year I graduated high school.

I still remember the sight of just about every big-time musical artist of the day taking turns, each sing a measure or two, and all swaying together for a cause. What was the cause? Hunger in Africa. They wanted to feed the starving.

Sadly, even though the recording sold over 20 million copies, hunger continues to this day. They barely made a dent on the problem, but they felt good trying.

They could be proud.

Pride Abhorred

If you don’t already know, God hates pride (Prov. 6:17). Pride is the attitude that sets someone apart as better than his creator. It is the opposite of humility, and it is sin. It is the sin that tells God, “I don’t need you…I can do this myself!”

As a matter of fact, pride is a sin that demands recognition. It is not a sin that settles with obscurity; it must be seen and heard. Pride is the praise and worship chorus sung by humanity in the Church of Self. Is it any wonder the Lord hates it? Pride is idol worship.

Rights and Wrong

Pride leads the rebellious to demand his self-perceived rights. He demands of God what is pleasant, but refuses to bow a humble knee. He finds others to band together, join hand-in-hand, and sing “we are the world; You can do nothing to us!”

They even have “pride” parades.

Nevertheless, though they join hand-in-hand, hold conferences, gang up and flood the airwaves, or even cry with one loud voice, “There is no God!“; the wicked will be punished.

God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7).

 


The Proud and the Widow

Proverbs 15:25 

“The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.”

Here we have an example of two opposites: the proud who takes care of everything himself, and the poor, defenseless widow.

What Does God Think?

Well, first of all, God doesn’t think too highly of the proud, nor does He care too much for his mansion on the lake. God hates pride (Prov. 6: 16-17a), and He has holds no respect for what man builds in arrogance. Speaking of a man who built impressive new barns thought to guarantee his retirement, Jesus said, “Thou fool” (Luke 12:20).

“Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the LORD will be exalted…” – Isaiah 2:11 NLT

On the other hand, God cares about the widow. Actually, He cares a whole lot about widows, orphans, the helpless, and especially those who are taken advantage of. Don’t believe me? Read what He told Moses…

“Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” – Exodus 22:22-24

What Makes them Opposites?

What we have here in this verse is a comparison between the one who thinks nobody can touch his stuff and the one who does her best to keep what she has. The proud sits all snug in his castle, while the widow goes to sleep wondering if her property line will be the same in the morning.

The proud is the self-sufficient one who has everything in control and doesn’t need God. His house is secure, along with the inheritance he plans to pass on to his proud, snotty children.

The widow is the helpless woman whose land, left to her by her loving husband, is at risk of being stolen. All she has as proof of her property line are the stone markers set in the ground. Now that her husband is gone, she struggles with those who try to move them when she’s not looking.

What Does the Lord Have to Say?

The Lord has a message for both the widow and the proud. To the widow he says, “Don’t worry, dear. I will take the stones that mark your boundaries and “establish” them (natsab, to set firmly in place).  Not even dynamite will budge them.”

To the proud the Lord says, “I will be exalted, not the idol of a house you have built for yourself. You think you have everything figured out, don’t you? Well, guess what? I am going to pluck your house out of the ground (“destroy” is the Hebrew word nacach, meaning “to pluck out”) like you tried to do to that poor widow’s property line.”

Application?

We should never forget that God is always watching, examining our motives, and able to intervene at any time.

The proud are the most vulnerable, while the humble are protected.