At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
“A man’s pride shall bring him low: But honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”Proverbs 29:23
Scripture teaches us in numerous places that a proud man’s pride is going to bring him down, and the Word also gives us the other side of the coin, which is that the humble will be exalted. But there is an important truth residing in that phrase in numerous places.
When Jesus taught us that humility was the way, and that the first will be last and the last first, this was not some new-fangled new covenant thing. The ethic of Scripture is consistent throughout all Scripture. It is not as though God blessed the proud in the Old Testament, but by the time of the Sermon on the Mount it was time to introduce humility.
Pride really does go before destruction. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Not only does the Old Testament teach us this in such passages, but it also gives us certain prime examples to consider—remember Pharaoh, remember Haman, remember Sennacherib, and a number of others.
Not only so, but we have numerous examples of the humble being exalted—whether it be childless women like Sarah, or Hannah, or Ruth, or men who were hounded and pursued by wicked men who were the means of their promotion. These would be men like David, and Mordecai, and Daniel. God gives grace to the humble.
Failure to understand God’s willingness and eagerness to promote us in due time is what was behind our first parents’ sin in the Garden. God was going to grow them up to a point of maturity where they could rule in the “knowledge of good and evil,” but they grasped for that honor prematurely. And so it was that they, and the entire human race, were brought low.
And when we enroll in Christ’s school of humility, we are agreeing to learn wisdom the old-fashioned way, slowly, and thereby we are learning to rule. In fact the Hebrew verb that means “to speak a proverb” can also be translated as “to rule.” But there are no short cuts.