7/13/14 Human Pride
THE QUESTION OF HUMAN PRIDE
Morning Meditation 7/13/2014
“I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn: Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck.. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another..”
I am thinking this morning especially of verse five though I want us to look at all four of these verses.
When we look at verse 4, I quote John Phillips, “Perhaps the singer has in mind the blasphemous speech of Rabshakeh as he stood before the walls of Jerusalem and ridiculed Israel’s God, Hezekiah’s foreign policy and religious reforms, and Jerusalem’s defenses. However, God knows how to abase human pride.”
God used foreign powers to chastise Israel. But God would only go so far with the arrogant idolaters He used to chasten them. When they began to glory in their strength and make fun of Israel and her God, He always stepped in and put an end to their foolishness.
The story that is the background to this Psalm is found in 1 Kings 18-19 where the Assyrian army came up against Israel. Israel had had revival under good King Hezekiah. Rabshakeh had sent Hezekiah a letter intimidating and threatening him and the nation of Israel. He made fun of the God of Israel. So, Hezekiah just read this letter to God. This situation was brought to a climax and is explained in 2 Kings 19:35: “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”
There is no measure to the power of God.. It is absolutely unlimited. When one arrays himself against God, he is a fool. There are those who do it every day, and when they die they will go into a Christless eternity to face God, and they will be as helpless as Sennacherib as He pronounces His righteous judgment against them because they refused the offer of mercy in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Psalmist says, “Deal not foolishly; and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn.” God will be merciful to fools. He warns them, and in the warning gives them an opportunity to avoid judgment, when He says, “Deal not foolishly.” This is a translation of “halal” and means, “to be boastful.” It is an imperfect tense and it differs from the perfect in being more vivid and pictorial. The perfect expresses the "fact", the imperfect adds color and movement by suggesting the PROCESS preliminary to its completion.” Rabshakeh was what we might call “doing his thing” and claiming to have power to overcome any God who claimed to be the Jews Protector. So God says, “I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly.” A man is truly a fool with all that word means when he sets himself against God. God cannot be ignored and He cannot be overcome. One is foolish to think he can.
Then the Psalmist adds, “and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn.” There is mercy and grace in these words. God did not have to speak to the wicked. He could have destroyed them without speaking and have been completely justified in doing so. Did He? No, He warned them. The word “lift” translates “ruwm” and means, “to rise, rise up, be high, be lofty, be exalted.” The word “horn” refers to the strength of the animal. Phillips says, “Lifting up the horn is a symbolism derived from an animal tossing its head in defiance and conscious power.” God is saying to the wicked, “Don’t flex your muscles against Me. You don’t know what you are doing. You are foolish.” Wouldn’t this language allow the WICKED to reconsider and back off? There is a message of grace in God’s Word of judgment.
Then next the Psalmist says, “speak not with a stiff neck.” The symbolism again is that of pride. The word “speak” translates “dabar” and with the negative means, “don’t speak, do not declare, do not command, do not threaten.” If you would like to read Rabshakeh’s insolence see 2 Kings 18:27. The verb tense is in the piel stem in the Hebrew and speaks of intensive action. Rabshakeh is really putting on a show in his pride and arrogance. The word “stiff” translates “athaq” and means, “bold and arrogant speech.” The word “neck” means that the neck is stiffened against bowing the head in humility before God. Salvation is a return to the authority of the throne something an unsaved world knows nothing about. God is sovereign over all the world including the unsaved world. When they get too arrogant, He steps in.
How much do you see going on that can be compared to Rabshakeh? The Christian struggles against this in the world in which he is trying to be a witness. Not only is this seen in the unsaved but also in professing Christians. The Bible is denied as the Word of God. Can you imagine the affect this denial has on a holy God who has said in Psalms 119:89, “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Then again in Psalms 138:2, “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” If God will not tolerate the blasphemy of His name, and He has put His word above His name, what will the end be of those who trample upon the verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God?
Rabshakeh and Sennacherib learned too late that you do not provoke God to the point that He has had enough. Our Psalm says, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south, But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”
What happened to Rabshakeh’s words and Sennacherib’s plans? They had WORDS, but were they able to fulfil them? We have the answer in 2 Kings 19:35: “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” They refused to take God’s warning and God sent ONE ANGEL and destroyed 185,000 soldiers who were there to carry out Sennacherib’s orders. When Hezekiah arose in the morning and looked out over the Assyrian army poised for battle outside the walls of Jerusalem, he saw nothing but dead bodies. And just a little relieved, I would say. There was no way from a human standpoint that Hezekiah could have survived an assault of the Assyrian army. God fought for Israel that day and Hezekiah was the kind of a king who would give honor and glory to God for the victory.
In closing this meditation, arrogance on the part of the Christian is just as repulsive to God as it is in the lives of the unsaved. Even more so. Jesus who claimed all His power and wisdom came from His Father is an example that all of us should follow. If one does succeed in something God has called him to do, it is so easy to SHARE what WE HAVE DONE to the glory of God. The fact is that we have done very little. If God does not furnish the power and wisdom in which to work, the work will not be fruitful. I say this as one who struggles against taking credit for what God does. I believe every saved person who is used of God has the struggle. But we can win against self by reckoning ourselves dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May God help us to win the struggle again the temptation to pride. Let’s be careful in SHARING what is being done that we do not subtlety covet recognition. We are not here to be recognized. We are here to exalt Christ and Him alone.
May the Lord bless each of you.