In chapter 7 of 2 Samuel, we saw a David as a king who was devoted fully to the Lord. A man eager to build a house for God. A man whose name had been established by God. But in chapter 8 verse 13, we see the focus shift as David begins to make a name for himself through all of his victories.
David’s Fall into Pride
But even as David made a name for himself and increased his fame and power, we still see God’s involvement. On two separate occasions we read, “the Lord helped David wherever he went.”
What does this mean? It means that God doesn’t leave us when pride rears up in our lives. Instead, he stays by our side and disciplines us. How? This is back to the Thomas Aquinas quote. God allows us to fall into a lesser but outwardly more shameful sins to expose our pride. When we’re exposed, we can be healed/fixed/disciplined.
“The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” – Proverbs 15:33
Where is David’s pride landing at this point? Let’s look. Remember what C.S. Lewis said, our pride can be evidenced in how much we dislike being snubbed. In chapter 10, we see this vividly play out when David is snubbed by Hanun, the new king of Ammon.
Hanun publicly shamed a delegation David had sent in friendship and good faith. Why did Hanun do this? Maybe because he was a new king with little wisdom. Maybe because he listened to bad advisors. We don’t really know but we’re concerned with David anyway and as far as David goes we no longer see a gracious response. Instead we see him on the warpath that eventually killed 700 charioteers and 40,000 horsemen.
It’s straight from this devastating victory that we turn the page to chapter 11. The story begins to unfold further for us as we witness David’s great sin. The outward shame of this act has reverberated across thousands of years. We see his covetousness, his taking of Bathsheba, and his plan to murder Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah.
At this point, David was in the very place of pride which Lewis warned us of:
“[there is] no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.”
David didn’t just dislike it in others, it outraged him. When Nathan is sent to David in chapter 12 with a story of a poor man, a much-loved lamb, and a rich tyrant who stole the man’s lamb and killed it, David reacts with hot anger. David, who had with prideful callousness told Joab not to worry over Uriah’s death, exclaims that the rich tyrant deserves death for stealing and killing a lamb.When Nathan is sent to David with a story of a poor man, a much-loved lamb, and a rich tyrant who stole the man’s lamb and killed it, David reacts with hot anger. Click To Tweet
He’s blind. Not blind to morality. Not blind to right versus wrong. But blind to the pride that had taken over him. Blind to the sin within himself. At this point in David’s life he was exactly what Jesus’s brother James describes in James 1:23-24
“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.”
When Nathan confronts David with the reality that David himself was the rich tyrant, he went on to say something interesting. He told David that God would have given him what he lacked/wanted if he had only asked. But David hadn’t asked. And here we see the true manifestation of pride. David had taken his life into his own hands instead of relying on the God who had established and taken care of him. He had taken what he wanted instead of walking in humility and now he was humbled.The true manifestation of pride is taking our lives into our own hands instead of relying on God. Click To Tweet
The next long haul of this story is one of the darkest periods of King David’s life. Though David repented from his tragic fall and begins to grow in humility, it would be a long road back to glory. And along the way he would find himself betrayed over and over.
Remember this church,
“Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.” – Proverbs 16:5 NASB
For those in Christ Jesus this is not a condemnation but rather a chastising—a molding and shaping which is the love of the Lord.
This moment of pride’s exposure and repentance to God, is a true milestone in David’s life. From this point on, we see a man governed by humility. Not a man who cannot and doesn’t slip back into pride (David’s census) but a man governed by humility. A man quick to repent.
Though David was now back on course, the 40-year road before him would be littered with the ramifications of his sin. Through his journey he would come to a true valley of the shadow of death, but God would walk beside him as he navigated the consequences of his sin.
He would become the picture of Proverbs 11:2: “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” The rest of David’s life would be characterized by humble wisdom.
Next week we’re going to pick back up on this story. And when we do we will follow David’s son Absalom. We’re going to see what happens when a person refuses to be humbled. I hope you’ll hang in with me as pride and humility are issues of great consequence.
Are there areas where you can see pride in others that someone has spotted in you? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.