The Provocation of Pride

“Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, began to reign. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not like David his father… But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. He struck down ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and took Sela by storm, and called it Joktheel, which is its name to this day.

“Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, king of Israel, saying, ‘Come, let us look one another in the face.’ And Jehoash king of Israel sent word to Amaziah king of Judah,.. ‘You have indeed struck down Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?’ But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up, and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another in battle at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah. And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home. And Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. And he seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house, also hostages, and he returned to Samaria.” 2 Kings 14:1,3-4,7-14

When once we set our feet atop the pinnacle of pride, and all the world seems rosy with me at the helm, any small step can become the first on a slippery slope downward. Here is king Amaziah, whose heart was almost ‘all in’ with God, yet one military victory with God’s help tantalized him with the taste of winning, and the seed of pride took root and tickled his fancy enough that he flirted with false gods, shunned God’s prophets, and provoked one who should have been an ally. The heathen Jehoash even warned him for his protection, yet pride had plugged his ears, and he would have nothing of stopping his hunger for just a little more. Disaster befell him; he lived at least fifteen years more with no noted significance. His own people conspired against him and put him to death. (2 Chronicles 25:2,7-16,27)

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Beware the provocation of pride! The temporary luster of success can blind us to reality, sap us of reason, and distort our view of our own prowess to the point that we make false assumptions and foolish decisions. Scriptures warn us not to think too highly of ourselves, but pride tempts inflated assessment. When we think we can share God’s rightful throne, or try to push Him off altogether, we are doomed to fail. He is King, and will always overrule our attempts at sovereignty. (Romans 12:3; 1 Timothy 6:15)

Lord of lords, give me eyes to see You as the only high and holy One, and myself in light of Your light. Expose my half-heartedness and make me wholly devoted to You. (Psalm 36:9; Isaiah 6:1-5)

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