“Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26b NLT)
Pride isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it depends on the object of our pride.
In 1 Samuel 17, from which the above verse is taken, David is exhibiting pride, but his intention isn’t to exalt himself, but the living God whose majesty, glory and honor the army of Israel is supposedly defending. David is a teenager whose primary responsibility is to watch his family’s sheep, but for David, even watching sheep is a platform upon which God can put His majesty on display.
Is it fair to say that the average teenage boy, then and now, would likely be no match for a bear or a lion? Yet God equipped David to kill both, with his hands and a club. In David’s mind this giant Philistine who is blaspheming the Holy God of Israel and defying His army, is no different than an animal and should be killed.
Holding the God of heaven in high esteem, and attributing to Him all praise, glory, and honor, is the essence of worship, and should be done with confidence and joy. And to the extent we’re able to reverence and appreciate God for who He is and what He has done and is doing, our pride in Him is justified and appropriate.
However, sometimes there’s a thin line between pride in our Savior and pride in ourselves. When our pride points people to us and seeks to exalt ourselves, that’s a whole different story.
In 2 Samuel 11 we see a different face of David’s pride. It’s the spring of the year when kings would normally lead their troops into battle with their enemies, but David decides to send Joab to lead the troops in his place. Nothing evil or sinful about that decision, but Satan used his absence from his troops – the place he should have been – to defeat him in ways no literal battle ever could have.
There’s a lesson here for us. Whether David was tired or sick or just didn’t “feel” like fighting, he made the “kingly” decision, which of course, was his to make, to stay behind. While there was nothing explicitly wrong in that decision, it positioned him to be an easy target for Satan. That can happen to us.
There are times we don’t feel like going to church or work or out with friends, or ___________ and, like David, that’s our right and privilege, but be very careful to understand what’s behind that decision. Is it the Lord’s leading or your selfish pride? Is it because the Lord clearly wants you to do something else or to stay behind for a specific reason? Or is it that you have something else in mind and you don’t care what the Lord thinks?
David’s pride in feeling that he didn’t have to go to battle, that his men didn’t need him or whatever else may have caused him to make that decision, it led to him being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He saw Bathsheba taking a bath.
Maybe it’s the wrong TV station, wrong magazine, or wrong internet site; maybe it’s a wrong conversation with the wrong person. Whatever it is, God will give you insight and will warn you, as I have no doubt he warned David, but if you don’t listen, regardless of how you justify it, you will pay the price, as did David, for your disobedience (see Psalm 51).
Pride can allow the Spirit to flow through you in amazing ways to exalt and lift the holy name of Jesus, but it can also pump you up and allow the enemy to exalt you and push people away from Jesus. We need to be very alert and very careful when it comes to allowing pride to rear it’s ugly head.
Blessings, Ed 😊