Could it be that the devil has sought to blur the true meaning of pride?
In the world, pride is viewed as a positive attribute. People are encouraged to be proud of themselves, to take pride in their work, etc. But the Bible paints pride in a far less positive light. Could it be that the devil has sought to blur the true meaning of pride, so that we don’t recognise it as a major red flag and deal with it promptly? Very often, what we call pride, is really being pleased with a particular person or situation. Such as when Jesus was baptised, and God spoke from Heaven and said that He was well pleased with Jesus. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about pride. Proverbs 16:18 says, “First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall” (The Message). This warning was fulfilled quite literally by the story of the Titanic. Work in building the Titanic begun on 31st March 1909 and after only three years it was finished. It was, at the time, the world’s largest passenger ship, measuring 269 metres (882 feet) in length. A White Star Line publicity brochure produced in 1910 for the Titanic and its twin ship, the Olympic, boldly proclaimed:
Then in 1911, Shipbuilder magazine published an article on the White Star Line’s sister ships Titanic and Olympic, which concluded that the Titanic was ‘practically unsinkable’.
Either of these vessels could be cut in halves and each half would remain afloat indefinitely.
The Titanic’s Captain, Edward John Smith, was also arrogantly confident of it’s unsinkability (that’s probably not a real word, is it?). The day following the disaster, the Washington Times published an article in which a man recalled a conversation with Captain Smith, whilst on board the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic. Captain Smith apparently declared, “the Olympic is unsinkable, and the Titanic will be the same when she is put in commission“. “Why,” he continued, “either of these vessels could be cut in halves and each half would remain afloat indefinitely. The non-sinkable vessel has been reached in these two wonderful craft“. “I venture to add,” concluded Captain Smith, “that even if the engines and boilers of these vessels were to fall through their bottoms the vessels would remain afloat“. Unwittingly, Captain Smith was setting into motion Proverbs 16:18:
“Pride comes before disaster, and arrogance before a fall” – Common English Bible.
Fine voyage, fine ship.
Such was the confidence and the pride in the Titanic, that it only had 20 lifeboats – enough to carry 1,178 people, just one third of the Titanic’s total capacity (although only 18 lifeboats were actually used and many of these were only half full). Apparently the life boats were not intended for the Titanic passengers – the arrogant attitude was that they would clearly never be needed, instead they could be used to help passengers of other sinking ships. And so it was, that on Wednesday 10 April 1912, the Titanic’s maiden voyage began with a collection of passengers on board comprising millionaires, silent movie stars, school teachers and emigrants, in search of a better life in the United States. The Titanic was a fast ship and by the fifth day of its journey, it had made rapid progress across the Atlantic. A series of warnings from other ships of drifting ice in the area had been received, but nevertheless the ship continued to steam at full speed. In what now seems to be another display of the prideful attitude towards the perceived unsinkability of the Titanic, the vital communications equipment on board was put to use sending messages from the passengers. ‘Important’ messages like, “Hello Boy. Dining with you tonight in spirit, heart with you always. Best love, Girl” and “Fine voyage, fine ship“. In fact, the senior wireless operator, Jack Phillips, was still sending passengers’ messages when the ship struck an iceberg. The collision with the iceberg tore a series of holes along the side of the hull and within three hours the Titanic had sunk with the loss of more than 1,500 lives. Forever a testimony to the truth that pride comes before a fall.
The king has allowed his pride to resurface.
The Bible also records a number of examples of where a fall was preceded by pride. One of the most dramatic of which, is the account of King Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel chapter 4 King Nebuchadnezzar has a startling dream, which Daniel interprets as meaning that he is to be punished for his pride and will become feral for seven years. Daniel advises King Nebuchadnezzar to repent, but a year later the king has allowed his pride to resurface. This is what happened in King Nebuchadnezzar’s own words from Daniel 4:28-33, “I was walking on the flat roof of my royal palace and admiring the beautiful city of Babylon, when these things started happening to me. I was saying to myself, ‘Just look at this wonderful capital city that I have built by my own power and for my own glory!’ But before I could finish speaking, a voice from heaven interrupted: ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, this kingdom is no longer yours. You will be forced to live with the wild animals, away from people. For seven years you will eat grass, as though you were an ox, until you learn that God Most High is in control of all earthly kingdoms and that he is the one who chooses their rulers.’ This was no sooner said than done—I was forced to live like a wild animal; I ate grass and was unprotected from the dew. As time went by, my hair grew longer than eagle feathers, and my fingernails looked like the claws of a bird” (Contemporary English Version). At the end of the seven years, King Nebuchadnezzar prayed and was restored to his former position.
Things did not end so well for him.
Daniel chapter 5 then records how Belshazzar, the grandson (some versions say son, but apparently he was really the grandson), of King Nebuchadnezzar also developed a prideful attitude, despite being fully aware of what had happened to his grandfather. Unlike his predecessor though, things did not end so well for him. King Belshazzar, in his pride and arrogance, sent for the gold cups that had been taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem, and then he, his officials, his wives, and his women slaves drank from them. As if that wasn’t bad enough, as they were drinking, they gave praise to their idol gods. King Belshazzar’s fall swiftly followed his pride. A hand appeared and wrote the judgement pronounced against him on the wall. Daniel was called and interpreted the writing to mean that because King Belshazzar had not learned the lesson from King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, his kingdom would be taken from him and given to the Medes & Persians. That same night King Belshazzar was killed.
So as we draw this post to a close, I exhort you to learn from these examples. Do not allow pride a place in your life, rebuke it at the first sign of it rearing it’s ugly head.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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