Solomon wrote, “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Pro. 16:18; KJV). Scripture provides numerous illustrations of the truth of this proverb. Consider the Assyrian commander who asked, “Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand” (2 Kings 18:35)? He soon learned the answer when the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. The Pharisees loved “the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Matt. 23:6-7). They delivered Jesus to death because of envy (Matt. 27:18), and yet in three days He arose victorious. Pharaoh asked, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice…” (Ex. 5:2)? He soon learned. The gentiles thought themselves wise but became fools (Rom. 1:22). The church at Laodicea said, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” failing to realize they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). In every case pride produced destruction.
The problem with pride is that it is essentially self-deification. One dictionary defines pride as “Arrogance or delusions of greatness on account of one’s achievements, status or possessions” (Manser, DBT). Another says, “Rebellious pride, which refuses to depend on God and be subject to him, but attributes to self the honour due to him, figures as the very root and essence of sin” (Tongue, NBD). The Bible calls us to “know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture” (Ps. 100:3). He alone is to be magnified and exalted, for He alone is worthy (Ps. 34:3; 96:1-9)! But pride causes a man to exalt the creation over the Creator. The prideful person refuses to acknowledge God, and submit to His will (cf. Rom. 8:5-8; Jas. 4:7). Instead, he follows after the dictates of his own heart and seeks to achieve his own glory. Pride produces self-deception (Gal. 6:3), blindness (Jer. 43:2), maliciousness (Ps. 119:85), contempt (Ps. 123:4), fighting (Pro. 13:10), violence (Ps. 73:6), and oppression (Ps. 10:4), among many other things. God promises that pride will not go unpunished–“Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: thought hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished” (Pro. 16:5).
Such prideful delusions of grandeur are also vividly seen in kings and nations who magnify themselves against the God of Heaven. It is God who “removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Dan. 2:21) but so many rule as if they were solely responsible for their own power. “Righteousness exalteth a nation…” (Pro. 14:34) and yet so many nations revel in unspeakable wickedness. The Bible is a practical catalog of kings and nations who exalted themselves against the King of Kings. Moab was destroyed “because he hath magnified himself against the Lord” (Jer. 48:42). To Edom, the Lord said,
The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord (Oba. 3-4).
King Amaziah’s prideful heart led to his destruction (2 Kings 14:9-10). His son Uzziah followed in his footsteps. Scripture says of him, “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense” (2 Chron. 26:16).
When an earthly king inflates himself with pride and fights against the God of Heaven, he will be defeated. That truth has played itself out time and time again throughout the history of the world, and it will continue as long as the Lord allows the earth to stand. God rules and God cares for His people. Such knowledge should give us strength and confidence. It should remind us that the answers to the world’s problems lay not in the minds of politicians, who are responsible for more problems than solutions, but in mind of Almighty God¬–the King of the Universe. It should also remind us that we should not panic whenever laws are passed designed to persecute and make life more challenging for God’s people. We must trust our God and have faith in His power.
The first century church recognized this point. In Acts 4:24-30 the church in Jerusalem prayed to God during a time of persecution. They said,
Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done (Acts 4:24-28).
The kings of the earth, rulers, the Jewish leaders, Herod, Pilate, and so many others lined themselves up against the Lord to thwart His will. Each one failed. Every King, Queen, Prime Minister, President, Congressman, Governor, Council Member, and ruler of any kind who legislates against and blasphemes the will of God will ultimately fail. Pride will be their Ruin.