The writer of Proverbs says that out of many daughters, the virtuous wife excels them all. Something analogous also may also be said of pride, the devil’s oldest daughter. Many sins are indeed ugly, but you surpass them all.
“Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: My soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord From henceforth and for ever” (Psalm 131:1-3).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
In this place, David describes the place he occupies as one of great humility. But he does not say this as some kind of humblebrag because in this psalm he describes for us how he was brought to that place, most reluctantly. But first, let him describe where he is now. He tells the Lord that his heart is not haughty, and that his eyes are not lofty or exalted (v. 1). He has decided not to meddle in “great matters,” or in things that are above his head, his pay grade, or his responsibility (v. 1). He has let go of everything. But notice that he has let go of these things. It is not that he was naturally so humble. He has behaved and quieted himself (v. 2), and the process that brought him to this place was like the process of weaning a child. But weaning a child is frequently a rodeo, like it apparently was in this instance. The place David occupies now is a place of exhausted acquiescence. The mother won, and the child lost. His soul is like that weaned child (v. 2). The lesson he has learned is a lesson of hope for all of Israel (v. 3). It is a lesson of hope for all time, for all of God’s people (v. 3). We are to trust in God from this position, having abandoned our own sense of importance, knowing that God is in control.
CLOTHED WITH HUMILITY
Because God opposes the proud, and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5), this is the place where we must start. All grumbling, all discontent, all complaining, is basically murmuring against God. The great things that the psalmist has abandoned would be the great questions about God’s sovereignty, which often is inscrutable to us. This is stark and obvious when we are complaining about the weather, or a mysterious disease or ailment, or our height, or the comparative poverty of the family we were born into. All discontent is ultimately vertical, directed against God, but with such things as these it is most obvious—because these are all acts of God. And God takes a dim view of it when He can hear all the Israelites grumbling in their tents (Ex. 16:7-8).
But sometimes, when our complaints are directed against other people, who are sinners (as Scripture teacheth), we think that we are simply being orthodox. The Bible teaches that all men sin in many ways (Eccl. 7:20), does it not, and are we not just pointing out this obvious and most scriptural fact? No, because the Scriptures include you in that number.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:1–3)
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
But horizontal pride is aimed at God also, just not as obviously. In the passage from Peter cited earlier, Peter says that we are to be subject to one another, and to be clothed with humility (1 Pet. 5:5), and this is precisely how we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Pet. 5:6). Just as a visit to a prisoner is reckoned as visiting Christ (Matt. 25:44), so also is the proud dismissal of a fool counted as a proud dismissal of Christ (Matt. 5:22).
THE PROUD ARE CURSED
“Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments” (Psalm 119:21). God opposes the proud, and curses the proud. But we must remember that pride is a versatile sin, and can show up virtually anywhere. There are many sins that are not welcome here in the sanctuary—porn, drunkenness, blasphemy, and the like. But pride cleans up real nice. Pride specializes in cleaning up real nice. Paul instructs Timothy not to ordain a novice to the ministry “lest he be lifted up with pride [and] fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). We need to remember that the birthplace of sin was in Heaven, in the heart of an exalted celestial being—who wanted to be more exalted (Is. 14:13). And so pride naturally appears in the places that we hold in honor.
Pride can work with any material. We can be proud of how underlined our Bibles are. We can be proud of how beautifully we sing Psalm 131. We can be proud of the fact that we understand the Reformed doctrine that we cannot be proud of anything—as opposed to those semi-Pelagian morons.
THE ONLY PLACE THAT PRIDE CAN DIE
The Lord Jesus was the only perfect man who ever lived. And He came to live and die among a race of diseased and corrupted lepers. And how was He treated in this leper colony of ours—the only healthy man who ever lived here. We stole from him (John 12:6), we got in the way of His mission (Matt. 16:23), we refused to listen to Him (Matt. 13:15), we betrayed Him (Matt. 20:18), we ran Him through a railroaded trial (John 18:12ff), we had Him flogged (Matt. 20:19), we pulled out His beard (Is. 50:6), we spit in His face (Matt. 26:67), we nailed Him to a cross of wood (Acts 2:23), and we taunted Him there (Matt. 27:42).
All our sins were nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ (Col. 2:14). But the sin that was mostly visibly nailed there was the sin of pride, because when we look straight on at the cross, we see nothing, absolutely nothing but divine humility. And that is a humility that can be yours. All you must do is look on it and live. Look in faith, and the gift is yours.