“(Jonadab) said to Amnon, ‘Why are you, the king’s son, so lean and weak-looking from day to day? Will you not tell me?’”
II Samuel 13:4
“The Problem With The
Power of Pride”
“Pride comes from a deeply buried root – it comes from the devil himself: where pride is fostered a person will be insincere, harsh, bitter, cutting, disdainful.”
Has there ever been a time in my life when I used my position to try and “use” another person?
Has there been a time in my life when someone tried to “use” their power to “lord over” and abuse me?
What do I think Jesus’ life shows me about the use of personal power in our relationships with each other?
“The source of sin is pride.”
Augustine of Hippo
“Pride causes us to use our gifts as though they came from ourselves, not benefits received from God, and to usurp our benefactor’s glory.”
Bernard of Clairvaux
When, during last week’s introduction to Amnon and Tamar, we met this half-brother and half-sister, we found that David’s son, Amnon, had an unnatural lust for his sister, which the Bible says was, “forbidden by God.”
Unfortunately, in his quest to have his sexual appetite fed, Amnon found support from his cousin, Jonadab, who we learned was a crafty and deceitful person.
And today, we find that with the entrance of Jonadab into the picture, this tragic story takes another dangerous turn. In our text, we are told that, Jonadab chided Amnon with the words, “Why are you feeling so depressed when you are the king’s son?” To get a clearer picture, the pining Amnon, who took to his bed in “illness” because he couldn’t have what he lusted for, was reminded by his cousin who he was related to. “As the king’s son,” you can just hear Jonadab saying, “You, Amnon, shouldn’t be languishing over what you think you can’t have for in your powerful position, you can actually have anything you desire!”
Acting in a devilish way, Jonadab appealed to the pride fostered in Amnon. Believe me, this is a habitually effective tool in the devil’s toolbox which brings all of us humans down at one time or another. Pride, as many people note, is often at the core of all sin.
For a minute, let’s go back to the Garden of Eden, a perfect home described in Genesis. There we find in Genesis 3: 1 that, “the serpent was more subtle and crafty.” Sound familiar? These are the same characteristics which in II Samuel 13 are used to describe Jonadab. And in the garden, the crafty serpent also appealed to “pride,” a sense of one’s own proper value and dignity, when he asked Eve, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You should not eat from every tree of the garden?’” Then the wily serpent went on to inform Eve that the only reason God didn’t want Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was that when they did, they would be like God, Himself. The serpent was trying to craftily get Eve to think that her place in the world was to arise to the place of becoming a god, herself. As the preacher Charles Spurgeon so correctly noted, “Pride is a stab at Deity; it is an attack upon the undivided glory of God.”
We find this statement applies to the garden scene between a crafty serpent as well as to the bedroom scene between the crafty Jonadab and the lust-filled Amnon.
The “devils” in Eve and Amnon’s lives came to them with words to “puff-up” their unsuspecting egos. “Don’t you know who you are? Why, you are the god of your own world! You are the ruler of your own universe! You can do it – you have the power to do anything you want.”
Unfortunately, this same mantra is told to us today by devilish cons who inform us we can fix ourselves, pick ourselves up and do the work that only God can do in our lives. As Douglas Groothuis correctly wrote, “Pride says, ‘I am the Lord my God, and I shall have no other gods beside me,’ and, ‘I shall love the Lord my self with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind.’” The noted theologian C. S. Lewis points out, “Pride is the complete anti-God state of mind.” How true for when I elevate myself to the pinnacle, there’s no room left for God.
I’m so thankful the Bible doesn’t just leave us with examples of how the spirit of pride can quickly bring us down, without giving us a perfect and complete model, in the life of Jesus, as to how a spirit of humility, the opposite of a pride-filled life, can infuse us with heavenly joy and grace. The English religious writer, Isaac Ambrose penned, “As pride is the resemblance of the devil and what brought him to ruin, so humility is the resemblance of Christ, which exalted Him to honor.”
These words were demonstrated in a vivid way in Matthew 4: 5, 6 where the Bible gives us insight into the three temptations Jesus faced. One particular temptation took place when the devil took Jesus upon a high, holy place and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.” Just another appeal to the King’s Son, “Who do you think You are? If You are the King’s Son, You can do anything You want.”
As I read our text for today and thought about Jonadab’s appeal to the proud nature that lurked in Amnon, I began to reflect on the times in my own life, when I’ve fallen prey to becoming so full of myself and my space in this world, that there’s no room left for God. I love the way William Gurnall points out that “A proud heart and a lofty mountain are always barren.” Sadly, it is in those barren crevices of my own heart where pride can take root and grow and when this happens, love is destroyed.
Tomorrow, we are going to look at the opposite of pride – humility. I want to study more regarding the word humility, which is a characteristic that continually infused the life of Jesus when He was here on earth. Unfortunately, in our dog-eat-dog world, the attribute of humility has gotten a bad rap. People tend to equate “humility” with door-mat behavior which allows others to walk all over you and you end up losing your own identity! Please come back tomorrow when we will find out that nothing could be farther from the truth. As Anne Austin beautifully wrote, “Pride is the cold mountain peak, sterile and bleak; humility is the quiet valley, fertile and abounding in life, and peace lives there.” This valley of humility is worth a visit tomorrow, don’t you think? Why not invite a friend to come to Transformation Garden with you when we step into a “quiet, fertile valley…abounding in life and peace.”
“Other sins are against God’s law, but pride is against God’s sovereignty.”
“Lord, give us a heart to turn all knowledge to Thy glory and not to our own. Keep us from being deluded with the lights of vain philosophies. Keep us from the pride of human reason. Let us not think our own thoughts; but in all things acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we find Thee everywhere, and live in all simplicity, humility and singleness of heart unto the Lord.”
Henry Kirke White
Dorothy Valcấrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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