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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
November 25, 2012
Proverbs on Pride
This morning we begin a new unit within in our study of Proverbs as we look at the attitudes and actions characterized as vices. We actually began to look at vices last week because gossip, seduction, flattery, deceit and lying are all vices of communication. (See: Proverbs on the Tongue) The word vice has its origin in a Latin term (vitium) meaning “fault.” A vice is a moral fault or failing. A vice can range from trivial imperfections to serious or even lethal wicked habits. Chewing gum with your mouth open is a trivial rudeness. Spreading venereal disease is serious. Drug addictions can be lethal.
Social mores, the morally binding customs of a group, may change what a society considers to be vices, but they do not change what God has declared about them. Those who advocate the acceptance or legalization of vices often cite data that show that either the vice has been around for many, many years or many people now practice the particular vice. However, vices become most dangerous when they become acceptable. For example, drunkenness has been around since fruit juice has been fermenting, but as long as intoxication is considered a vice there is a societal pressure against it and the number of people who would get drunk is suppressed. When it becomes acceptable, the number of people getting drunk goes up. That truth is self evident just by looking at the behavior of people in different settings. You can expect to see drunks at a bar where it is accepted, but you will not see that at the church social.
Those states that just legalized private use of marijuana will all too soon find out that vices have consequences for all of society. It can be expected that there will be an increase in the number of people maimed or killed in auto and industrial accidents because the drivers or operators were stoned. There will be an increase in work days lost, financial failures and personal conflicts because more people will spend their time off under the influence of marijuana instead of being productive. Those states can also expect to have an increase in the use of even more dangerous illegal drugs because marijuana is an entryway drug to them. Vices are to be condemned and eradicated if possible, not condoned and taxed for revenue.
One of the differences in past generations is that those who practiced vices still recognized them as vices. The individual might still practice the vice, but would agree that he would be better off if he did not. More recent generations want to be accepted in their sin and so defend their vices as being either inconsequential, normative or even good. But we shall find in our study of the Scriptures that vices are not inconsequential for God judges all sin. They may be normative because all people sin, but that does not make them right. Even if everyone practiced the vice, it would still wrong before God. No vice is good before God and He gives strong warning to those who will call good what He calls evil and call evil what He calls good. Yet we now live in such a society with many of those kinds of people elected to government offices as our leaders.
This morning we are going to examine a foundational vice. It is a sin upon which many other sins are built or which are just outward expressions of this particular vice.
The preacher Alexander Pope described this vice as follows:
Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man’s erring judgment, and misguide the mind
What the weak head with strongest bias rules
Is Pride, the never-failing vice of fools
We use the English word pride to describe several different qualities and behaviors since the word’s origin seems to be from the Latin prodesse meaning “to be of value.” There is both a proper pride and an evil, sinful pride. We find these same kinds of distinctions in the Hebrew and Greek scriptures in the words which could be translated as pride or proud and their synonyms. For example, the most common Hebrew words translated as pride have their root in ga'” which has a primary meaning of “to rise.” It is used of both physical objects ascending such as smoke or metaphorically and translated as exaltation, majesty or pride. These could be positive or negative. We will examine proper types of pride before going to the warnings in Proverbs about the sinful types of pride.
There are three broad categories of pride that can be positive. The first is a proper delight or elation that arises from some act, possession or relationship. The second is a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from achievements, qualities, or possessions. The third is a proper consciousness of one’s own dignity and therefore a reasonable or justifiable self-respect. Proverbs 30:29 alludes to these proper types of pride, “There are three things which are stately in their march, Even four which are stately when they walk: The lion which is mighty among beasts And does not retreat before any, The strutting rooster, the male goat also, And a king when his army is with him.”
Isaiah 60:15 is an example of the first for it speaks of the Lord making Zion “an everlasting pride, A joy from generation to generation.” Those in Zion in the future will have a sense of delight or elation arising from their relationship to it because the Lord lifted it up to a majestic position. In Isaiah 24:14, the majesty of the Lord Himself causes the people to raise their voices and shout for joy. Again the word majesty is from the same root as pride. Since the Lord delights in those who are faithful, walk blamelessly and in prayers of the upright (Proverbs 11:20; 12:22; 15:8), it is proper for us to reflect Him in doing the same. It is even better that we delight in the Lord Himself, His law and all His works (Psalm 1:2; 37:4; 111:2). As David expresses it in Psalm 63, his soul was satisfied as with fatness in the Lord and His works. There is a proper pride that we should have in our God, our relationship to Him and all that He does for us.
It is also proper to have deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from achievements, qualities, or possessions that reflect God and godliness. Since God is self-existent and self-sufficient, He is also self-satisfied and properly pleased with Himself and all His works (Isaiah 43:22; 53:10; Psalm 149:4, etc.). For man, this proper pride is found in what the Lord has done for him and through him. It begins with understanding the blessedness of having the Lord forgive you of your sins as David expressed it in Psalm 32. It continues as the Lord works in your life to change you so that you see increasing godliness in how you live. Though you are not yet what you want to be and shall be some day, you are pleased that you are not what you used to be. Paul expressed this great hope in Philippians 1:6 that God will perfect the work He began in believers. Paul expressed in several places his satisfaction that by God’s grace toward him he had become what he was and accomplished what he had (Romans 15:17-20; 1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 10-12).
We can also apply to other people these two sens
es of delighting in or taking satisfaction in others and what they have done. The greeting, “I am proud to know you” simply means that I take delight in making your acquaintance, or if used of a long term friend it means I take delight in being associated with you. When you tell someone that you are proud of them, you convey your delight in being associated with them and / or satisfaction or pleasure in the particular thing they have done. When sincere, these kinds of statements are good and proper compliments and encouragements to others. In fact, it is important that those in superior positions – parents to their children, coaches to their players, bosses to their workers – express these thoughts to those under them as encouragements. However, care must also be taken lest such compliments and encouragements feed the sinful pride of others.
There is also proper pride where there is reasonable or justifiable self-respect or a consciousness of one’s own dignity. This type of pride is certainly true and proper if God for all the works of the Lord and His attributes magnify and exalt Him (Job 37; Psalm 68; 93, etc.). This type of pride is only proper in man when it is founded upon a humility that recognizes that all men are finite and also inherently sinful. All men will lack in knowledge and ability and will also have a natural bent away from truth and godliness. Without this foundation, this kind of pride quickly becomes a negative evil. Proper pride in this area is much like the previous area. It arises from recognizing what the Lord has done in Him and can do through Him.
All men have inherent dignity, not because they are human, but because God made mankind in His own image. This is why God established capital punishment for murder in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.” It is due to the rejection of this truth that the life of a man has become relative in society. If man is just an animal, the produce of random chemical reactions as taught by evolution, then man has no inherent dignity or value. This why the life of the unborn child is subject to murder at the whims of the mother or those pressuring her so solve her “problem.” The unborn baby is not her problem. Her problem is her sinful response to the pregnancy regardless of how she became pregnant. It is due to the rejection of this truth that there has been a reduction in the value of the lives of those with various handicaps or who have become ill or old. Infanticide and euthanasia are the results. It is because of the rejection of this truth that there is racism and genocide.
All men should develop a healthy, realistic self-confidence in what they can accomplish for this overcomes inaction and the fear of failure. However, being self-confident is not the same as having high self-esteem, which is just a more modern term for sinful pride. But beware, there is a fine line between self-confidence and sinful pride. Self-confidence is about knowing what you can and should do and you cannot nor should do. A self-confident man is humble and may even be self-effacing. He will not brag or be condescending to others even if his position or abilities are superior. He will not be afraid to tackle anything within his abilities, will try to do things beyond his abilities by arranging the proper assistance, and will decline to do those things he knows are beyond his abilities.
David was such a man. He was humble, yet unafraid to face Goliath because he was confidant in both his own abilities and in the God he served. In his own words in 1 Samuel 17:36-37, “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”
David was not afraid to become a commander in the army though he had never done anything of that nature before. He was able to do so because he relied on other skilled men to assist. This is why David was able to gather such a noble group of mighty men around him such as those listed and described in 2 Samuel 23.
There were times David became afraid such as described in 1 Samuel 21 and Psalm 43. He had certainly placed himself in a very dangerous position by taking up residence among the Philistines when it was well known among them that David had been their enemy. David was in a situation beyond his abilities, but even here, the fear was caused by taking his eyes off the Lord and His promises and instead relying upon his own wisdom. Walking in godly wisdom enables you to “not be afraid of sudden fear Nor the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; For the Lord will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught” (Proverbs 3:25-26).
When you fear the Lord you are on the path of knowledge, understanding and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). When the fruit of wisdom produces in you humility, these lead to riches, honor and life (Proverbs 10:27; 14:27; 19:23; 22:4). These also lead you to display these proper types of pride for they are founded in a right and true perspective of God and yourself. There is a proper pride and delight in your God, your relationship to Him and all that He does for you. There is a proper pride of pleasure and satisfaction in what the Lord does through you. There is a proper pride of worth and dignity because you are made in the image of God. There is a proper pride of self-confidence because you know what you can and should do and you cannot nor should do.
But there is also a very negative side to pride. Proverbs 8:13 states, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.” We know going to turn our attention to these evil types of pride that are so hated by the Lord.
The overwhelming usage of the terms for pride and its synonyms in the Scriptures are negative. There are multiple warnings and condemnations about pride. A common charge made against the Gentile nations for which they would be judged is their pride: Assyria – Zechariah 10:11; Babylon – Isaiah 13:19; Egypt – Ezekiel 30:18; Moab – Jeremiah 48:29; Philistines – Zechariah 9:6; Tyre – Ezekiel 29, etc. One of the strongest charges against both Israel and Judah was that they had become proud – Isaiah 9:9; Ezekiel 16; Hosea 5:5. A characteristic of sin is a self-centeredness that blocks you from understanding the truth about yourself and God. You magnify your own importance and abilities while diminishing God’s importance and abilities. That is the root of sinful pride which then gets expressed in several different ways including arrogance, haughtiness, pomposity; insolence, superciliousness and disdain. There are well over 200 verses that are related to this concept. My focus is going to largely be on those that occur in Proverbs
Proud with Pride – there are four word groups that occur in Proverbs that are translated as pride or proud in the NASB. These words can take on different nuances of meaning depending on their context. The first word group is from ga'” which we have already looked at briefly and has a primary meaning of “to rise.” The fundamental idea of pride in this word is thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to think. This is the very thing Paul says in Romans 12:3 that we should not do, but to instead “think so as to have sound judgment.” This is the pride in Proverbs 8:13 that God hates.
There is no question that the proud can be successful in this world, but that does not mean we should envy their achievements for in the end they will suffer for it. As one person quipped, “Success that goes to a man’s head usually pays a very short visit.” Proverbs 16:19 warns, “It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the
spoil with the proud.” Proverbs 29:23 adds, “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.” Notice already in this verse the contrast made between pride and humility and their end results. As another person quipped, “When success turns a man’s head, it leaves him looking the wrong direction.”
How bad can it get? (Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.” The natural consequence of the proud is being undercut by others that are proud as they play a real life game of “king of the hill” with one another. There is also the fact that God’s hand will be against them as stated in Proverbs 15:25, “The Lord will tear down the house of the proud . ..”
There is an even stronger warning given in Proverbs 16:5, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.” The word proud here is g b ah which is a closely related concept and refers to a position of height. When this it used in reference to what a man thinks of himself in this manner it expresses great pride which receives this stronger condemnation. When heart is used metaphorically in the Hebrew Scriptures it refers not to emotion as we commonly do in English, but rather what one thinks and the seat of will. This a person that has made consideration and concluded that he is in a higher position than he is. God not only hates pride, this pride is an abomination to Him.
A third word translated as proud is rahab meaning “broad” or “wide.” It is used in Proverbs 21:4 in a similar manner as gaboah is used in Proverbs 16:5, “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin.” The difference is in thinking of pride in a horizontal term instead of a vertical one. Instead of considering himself to be higher than reality, he thinks himself to be wider than what is true. In either case, thinking of yourself as being more than you actually are is sin.
A fourth word group translated as proud is from zîd which when used of a person has a meaning “to act in a proud manner” or “a sense of self-importance.” As someone said, “Some folks are so proud of themselves they can strut sitting down.” Here again pride is contrasted with humility – Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” The context will determine if this is from a sense of presuming authority for themselves (Exodus 18:11) or asserting their own will in rebellion against authority (Deuteronomy 1:43), and whether is also contains the element of it being a willful decision – a presumptuous sin (Deuteronomy 17:12-13). For example, Proverbs 21:24 uses two forms of this word, “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names, Who acts with insolent pride.” The first, “proud,” is self-importance, and the second, “insolent pride,” is an assertion of it being a willful decision of presumptuous pride. In Psalm 19:12-13 David prayed to be kept from such presumption which could result in the death penalty (Deuteronomy 7:12).
Arrogance, according to Proverbs 8:13, is also hated by God alongside pride. Arrogance is an extension of pride in claiming for oneself more consideration or importance than is warranted. In Isaiah 36-37 is the story of Assyrian King Sennacherib who had conquered many lands and established a large empire, but his heart of pride swelled so that he equated the Lord God of Israel with the false gods of the nations he had conquered. This becomes one of the reasons God declares against him in Isaiah 37:29, “Because of your raging against Me And because your arrogance has come up to My ears, Therefore I will put My hook in your nose And My bridle in your lips, And I will turn you back by the way which you came.”
Proverbs 14:16 brings another element of pride to light. “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless.” The type of arrogance here ( batah) arises from over confidence that results in careless foolishness. Notice the contrast in this verse is the wise being cautious to turn away from evil while fools, believing themselves to be more important than they are, step forward into situations and actions they should avoid and so fall into evil. Because they are arrogant, they are also foolhardy.
Those with self proclaimed importance will also cause problems for others. Proverbs 28:25 observes, “An arrogant man stirs up strife . . .” Such people are often not just irritating, especially to other proud people, but believing themselves to be more important, they will treat others with disdain and make improper demands.
Haughty is related to arrogance. Whereas the arrogant think themselves to be superior but in fact are not, the haughty person does have a high position and acts in pride because of it. Such people have a particular look about them described as “haughty eyes” in Proverbs 6:17; 21:4 & 14. This is the look that those who are conceited or “stuck up” have in looking down on others. God hates it and declares it abominable (Proverbs 6:17). Haughtiness leads to dishonor, stumbling and destruction (Proverbs 16:18; 18:12). While it is proper to hold your head up, be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.
Insolence is the next level of pride. It surpasses even the pomposity of the lordly to a contemptuous haughtiness. The particular word form here, zadôn, is used in many contexts in which this is a pride that is opposed to God and will hinder those who try to do the will of God. For example in Psalm 119:51 the arrogant utterly deride the Psalmist, yet he does turn aside from God’s law. This gives us insight into the meaning of Proverbs 13:10, “Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.” The foolish pride of the insolent even rejects the counsel of others to pursue his own course. This a person who is so conceited that no one else meets his standard which is himself. Or as someone put it, “why should some people be willing to compromise when they’re the ones who are always right?” No wonder the only result possible is strife with others.
There can be finer divisions made in explaining the nuances of pride, but the reality is that all these forms of pride are dangerous. Pride is the original sin as explained in Isaiah 14 when Lucifer decided that he would ascend and make himself like the Most High God. Satan used this same lie to entice Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She thought of herself more highly than she ought and decided to do what she thought best for herself. She ate, then gave to Adam. He ate, and mankind plunged into sinfulness.
Pride only gets worse as a person continues to magnify their own importance and abilities. Proverbs 26:12 gives stern warning of where this can lead, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Since all men are sinful and therefore subject to pride, is there any hope? Yes, and Proverbs points the way.
Hope for the Proud
Agur states in Proverbs 30:32, “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.” Putting your hand on your mouth is the first step in battling pride. We gain an understanding of what this practice means in Job 40:4-5 when he responded after God began to speak to him. “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more.” It means to stop talking and start listening. It is a recognition that you are limited and do not have an answer. It is the first step of humility for it is the first step away from thinking highly of yourself and toward thinking rightly.
Consider again the contrast given in Proverbs 11:2 and 29:23,
“When pride comes, then c
omes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom” and “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.” The cure for being proud is to be humble.
Where does humility begin? The starting point is the fear of the Lord which is the origin of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. It is founded upon understanding your true value and position on this earth in contrast to God. Again, you only have value because you are made in God’s image. Your true position is that of a finite, mortal creature that has fatally offended its Creator and therefore under His condemnation. You are incapable of making restitution, payment or absolving your own sins in anyway shape or form. Even your best efforts to do righteous deeds is still as filthy rags before Him for He is holy (Isaiah 64:6). You have no hope unless it is provided from an outside source. It cannot come from any other mortal for they all have the same problem as you. Hope must come from your Creator – and that is just what He offers.
Proverbs 3:34, NKJV states, “Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.” This matches Psalm 138:6, “For though the Lord is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.” This truth was then repeated in the New Testament in two places. James 4:6 states, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5-7 gives a fuller explanation, “. . . God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
It is God that has provided the necessary grace through the Lord Jesus Christ who became a man, lived a sinless life, willing died on the cross of Calvary as the substitute atonement for our sins, then rose from the dead on the third day proving His claims and promises and is now at the right hand of God the Father awaiting the time of His return for all that believe on Him. You do not deserve this and you could never earn it. Instead, God freely offers it to you as a gift of His grace. Your part is simply to believe, but in order to believe you must humble yourself or your pride will always block you from belief. In your pride you will magnify yourself and diminish God. To humble yourself you must do the opposite. Come to grips with the truth and diminish yourself in your own eyes and magnify God. He is the Creator. He is the self-existent sovereign One. He is the final judge and He will hold you, a sinful creature, accountable. But He is also the redeemer who invites you to believe and receive His gift of forgiveness, conversion and adoption into His family. What will you do with His invitation? “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24)
Christian, you walk in humility by magnifying the Lord and diminishing yourself. Even when you are complimented, thank the person for the compliment and then turn it into a praise to God by pointing the compliment back to the Lord as the source of your ability and character.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the words “proud” or “pride” is said. 2) Discuss with your parents how develop a humble character
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is a vice? Who determines what constitutes a vice? Why is a vice that becomes acceptable so dangerous? When is delight or elation that arises from some act, possession or relationship a proper type of pride? Explain. When is feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from achievements, qualities, or possessions a proper type of pride? Explain. When is it proper to have pride in others and what they do? Explain. When is a consciousness of one’s own dignity or having self-respect a proper type of pride? Explain. What is the source of dignity for all men? What have been the consequences of this dignity being rejected? What is the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem? How did David demonstrate proper self-confidence? What is the relationship between the fear of the Lord and proper pride? What is the fundamental problem with sinful pride? Why is the success of the proud not to be envied? What is God’s reaction to the pride of humans? What is arrogance and what is its relationship to pride? What are its dangers and results? What does it mean to be haughty? Describe “haughty eyes?” What is insolence? How is it worse that just pride? Can the proud have any hope if left to their own abilities? Explain. What does it mean to “put your hand on your mouth” (Proverbs 30:32; Job 40:4-5)? How is the first step of humility? Why is humility required to have hope? What has God done to give man hope? How does a person humble themselves before God? What do you do to strive to live humbly before the Lord? What is your hope for the future? Explain.
Sermon Notes – 11/25/2012
Proverbs on Vices, Part 1 – Pride
A vice is a ___________ fault or failing
Vices become most dangerous when they become ______________
_____________ defines what is a vice and gives strong warnings to those that seek to redefine them
Isaiah 60:15 – a sense of _______or elation arising from their relationship to Zion which God magnifies
Isaiah 24:14 – Lifting of voices and shouting for joy over the _____________ of the Lord
Delight in the ___________ Himself, His law and all His works (Psalm 1:2; 37:4; 111:2)
Pleasure / satisfaction derived from achievements, qualities, or possessions that reflect ____& godliness
Proper _____________ in man is found in what the Lord has done for and through him
Delight / satisfaction in ___________ and what they have done
Reasonable or justifiable self-respect or a consciousness of one’s own _____________
All men have inherent dignity because God made mankind in His own _____________ )Genesis 9:6(
Healthy, realistic self-confidence in what they can accomplish
David as an example: __________________________________________________________________
The fear of the Lord joined with ____________ produces the proper types of pride
A characteristic of sin is a self-centeredness that blocks understanding the _____about yourself and God
Magnification of __________importance and abilities while diminishing God’s importance and abilities
Proud with Pride – thinking more ____________ of yourself than you ought to think – see Romans 12:3
The proud can be successful in this world, but God will _________- Proverbs 16:19; 29:23; 16:18, 15:25
Proverbs 16:5 – the heart is the seat of rationality and __________- when it is proud it is an abomination
Pride can be described as ___________ as well as tall – Proverbs 21:4;
Pride as a sense of __________________ – Proverbs 11:2, 21:24
Arrogance – claims for oneself __________consideration or importance than is warranted )Isaiah 36-37(
Proverbs 14:16 – a pride of over-confidence that results in careless ______________
Those with self proclaimed importance will also cause _____________for others – Proverbs 28:25
Haughty people do have a high positions and act in __________ because of it.
Haughty eyes (Proverbs 6:17; 21:4,14) – The look the ________________ give looking down on others
Insolence surpasses even the __________________ of the lordly to a contemptuous haughtiness
The insolent reject the ______________ of others in favor of their own thoughts
Pride only gets worse as the person ________________ himself and diminishes God – Proverbs 26:12
Hope for the Proud
______________________ and start listening – the first step toward humility and thinking rightly
The starting point of humility is the _____________________and understanding your true value vs God
Your only hope is that _____________ will provide for you from an source outside of you
God freely offers salvation, but you must ______________ , and to believe, you must humble yourself
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