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If there is one sin that has done more damage to the human race than any other, that sin must be pride. If you think about it, just about every sin can be traced back to pride.
When children disrespect their parents, they’re essentially saying, “Even though God has set these people to watch over me, I know better than them.”
When people steal, they’re saying, “Even though God gave this to you, I have the right to take it for me.”
When people lie, they’re saying, “I’m so important that I can alter the truth to get what I want.”
Me, me, me. That’s what pride is all about.
Some have even speculated that it was pride that caused Satan to rebel against God in the beginning. Created as one of God’s holy angels, Satan apparently thought that HE was just as powerful, and just as wise as the LORD. So why shouldn’t HE be in charge?
Pride leads us to elevate ourselves out of our rightful place, and to commit sins of every kind. THE LOVE OF MONEY MAY BE THE ROOT OF MANY KINDS OF EVIL. BUT A STRONG CASE CAN BE MADE THAT PRIDE IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.
Therefore, as followers of God, you and I want to avoid an attitude of pride. In our lesson for today, king David shows us what godly humility looks like. Godly humility admits sin. Godly humility accepts rebuke. And godly humility trusts that the LORD will lift up the humble—for he is gracious and powerful to do so.
This is the seventh message in a series of eight dealing with the life of king David. At this point in David’s life, he has been the king of Israel for some time. Though he was generally a just ruler, David failed to discipline his own children by bringing them to justice for their crimes.
Last Sunday we heard how David’s son Absalom committed murder—but king David did nothing about it. Eventually Absalom returned to Jerusalem to cause more grief and heartache.
Absalom was a handsome man, and he used his good looks along with golden speeches to win the hearts of the people. Once he secured popularity in the capital, he secretly sent messengers throughout the land of Israel. On an appointed day Absalom traveled seventeen miles south, to the city of Hebron. There he had himself declared king. Across the land the messengers he had dispatched announced the same.
When David learned what was going on, he knew it was only a matter of time before Absalom swept into Jerusalem to destroy everything he held dear. And so David gathered up his family, and those who were still loyal to him, and fled the capital.
We pick up the story three miles north of Jerusalem, as David and his group of exiles reach the city of Bahurim.
2 Samuel 16:5-14 (NASB)
5 When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came.
6 He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left.
7 Thus Shimei said when he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow!
8 “The Lord has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!”
9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head.”
10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the Lord has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ ”
11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him.
12 “Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.”
13 So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed and cast stones and threw dust at him.
14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary and he refreshed himself there.
At the beginning of David’s reign, there had been war between Saul’s family and David’s supporters. Saul’s family wanted one of Saul’s sons to rule instead of the LORD’s chosen king David. And while that conflict eventually came to an end, there were still people in Israel who were bitter about it. Shimei was apparently one of these.
When Shimei saw David fleeing from Jerusalem, he believed that the LORD had finally ousted that rotten king David. Shimei placed all the blame on David for the bloodshed that had come as a result of the strife between the families of Saul and David. And now it looked to Shimei as if David was finally getting what he deserved. DAVID’S OWN SON Absalom had rebelled against him. Ha! What sweet vengeance, what poetic justice.
And so Shimei went out to harass David. And to his cursing and ranting, Shimei added stones and dirt.
Imagine this happening today. The president of the United States, forced to flee from Washington, D.C.. And a man throwing stones and dirt on him as he fled. How do you think the secret service would respond to that? Not too kindly, I would guess.
David’s men responded in the same way. A warrior named Abishai offered to silence the insolent Shimei once and for all.
But David wouldn’t allow it. And the way David responded to Abishai’s offer tells us what kind of thoughts were going through David’s head at the time.
David was wondering if this was it for him. Maybe the LORD was ending his reign. Perhaps the LORD himself had sent Shimei to curse David on his way out. After all, David’s own SON had rebelled against him and was now seeking his life. Why shouldn’t Saul’s clan rise up to exact their revenge?
“Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day” (2 Samuel 16:11-12 NASB).
An so the taunts and the stone throwing continued. And David did nothing to stop it.
Let me tell you about something else that happened on this trip which gives us insight into David’s thoughts. When David left Jerusalem, the priests of the LORD followed. And they were carrying the Ark of the Covenant with them. But David paused and told them to return the Ark to Jerusalem. In 2 Samuel 15, it says,
“25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. 26 But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.”” (2 Samuel 15:25-26 NIV).
This was David’s attitude: If this is the LORD’s will, then let it be so. I’m ready to accept whatever the LORD has determined to do.
THIS IS GODLY HUMILITY.
David knew he was a sinner. He wasn’t about to say, “Why me, LORD, why me?” Earlier in his life, David prayed to the LORD saying,
“Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18 NKJV).
THE FIRST BATTLE AGAINST PRIDE IS WON WHEN WE SEE THAT WE ARE SINNERS. Sinners who don’t deserve all the love and care that the LORD sends to us.
THE SECOND BATTLE AGAINST PRIDE IS WON WHEN WE HUMBLY ACCEPT THE LORD’S REBUKE.
In the book of James it says,
“ “God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:6-10 NKJV).
God doesn’t allow hard times to come into our lives to crush us. He lets difficulties come into our lives so that we will turn away from our sins and cling to him for help and forgiveness.
When success comes into our lives, we sinners often respond by giving ourselves the credit. We respond with PRIDE. Sometimes the wheels have to come off the bus before we set our pride aside and admit that God is the source of all our fortunes, all our talents, all our blessings. “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
When David left Jerusalem, his heart was heavy. His son Absalom had incited the nation against him. His enemies were rejoicing. Shimei was throwing stones and dirt and mocking him as he went. But instead of being full of prideful anger toward the LORD, David clung to the LORD in hope. And that is when the third battle against pride is won. THE THIRD BATTLE AGAINST PRIDE IS WON WHEN WE TRUST IN THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORM.
This is what godly humility looks like. We see it in David, and we see it other followers of God also. The apostle Paul once wrote…
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB).
SO HERE IS THE BATTLE PLAN TO DEFEAT PRIDE. First, we admit that we are sinners. Second, we accept the LORD’s rebuke. And third, we trust that the LORD will lift us up, in good time, and we will see the light of his grace shinning on us.
As sinful human beings we’re going to BATTLE with pride for the rest of our lives. But because of the Gospel of Christ, we know that the WAR against pride has already been won.
We know that the sinless Son of God humbly ACCEPTED the Father’s rebuke for our sins. We know that the sinless Son of God patiently SUFFERED physical pain and spiritual hell on the cross—in our place. We know that the sinless Son of God TRUSTED that the Father would raise him from the dead on the third day.
And because Jesus did all this, our sins of pride have been erased. They are atoned for. We stand forgiven in Christ, and our relationship with the Almighty has been restored.
And so remember, dear Christians, as you battle daily against your own sinful pride, remember that the war has already been won—in Christ Jesus our Savior. Because Christ’s righteousness covers us, the Father sees us as being perfectly humble. As pure as his own Son. This is what the Gospel tells us.
When David fled from Jerusalem, he wasn’t sure if God would restore him to power. He didn’t know if his journey would end in death. And when hard times come into OUR lives, we don’t always know what the LORD’s next move will be. But in Christ we can be sure that God’s grace will shine on us. When we leave this world clinging to the cross of our Savior, our souls are bound for eternal bliss at God’s side in heaven. And there, finally, we will cease from battling our sinful pride. For in heaven pride will be no more. And we will praise our great God and Savior with hearts of purest humility and love.
So, pray to the LORD in faith when the stones and the dirt of this world shower down on you. Bow in humility before the LORD, and get ready to be lifted up.
PRAYER: Father in heaven, we are sinners. We struggle with thinking too highly of ourselves. Teach us to put one another first. Teach us to bow before you in humble repentance. Help us to accept hard times when they come, and to see when those times come from your hand as a rebuke. And always, LORD, help us to see the great forgiveness you have secured for us in Christ Jesus our Savior. Amen.