God Hates Pride (Proverbs 16:18)

Pastor Sherry’s message for July 3, 2022

Scriptures: 2 Kgs 5:1-19; Ps 30; Galatians 6:1-16; Lk 10:1-20

The following is a true story. I shared this with you some years back, but it’s a good one that I think is worth another hearing:

A Granny-lady from Florida approached her car and was shocked to see two men sitting in it. She pulled her pistol out of her pocket-book, pointed it at them, and said, “I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of the car!” They immediately jumped out of the car and ran like mad! Relieved—and somewhat proud—she put her key in the ignition only to find it did not fit. Looking around in frustration, she then saw her own car several spaces away (You know how all silver or white SUV’s look the same!) Later, a booking Sargent at the local police station doubled over, laughing, as the 2 pale men reported a car-jacking by a “crazed, white-haired elderly woman, Caucasian, 5’ tall, wearing glasses, and carrying a large handgun. When questioned, the granny pleaded a “senior moment;” No charges were filed.

This is a funny story, isn’t it? It’s amusing precisely because it’s unexpected. The woman had to admit she was wrong—some find this very hard to do. The men were smart to remove themselves quickly. This is the kind of thing that their family and friends probably teased them about later. The lady was elderly. She was no doubt smaller and frailer than either one of them, but they wisely recognized her power differential. They were not too proud to run.

Our Old Testament and Gospel lessons today both demonstrate our Lord’s view of human pride. Let’s look at them together.

2 Kings 5:1-19 relates the story of Naaman, the Syrian general.

We begin in the year 852 BC. Israel and Syria (Aram) had been at war for most of that decade. At the time of this passage, they are enjoying an uneasy truce. Naaman was the very competent commander of the Syrian armies. He had the respect of his King, Ben Haddad II. He was viewed by those who knew him as an honorable man, an effective leader, and a valiant warrior. But he was also afflicted with leprosy. In Israel, he would have had to have quit the military to live in seclusion. Gentiles, however, did not tend to separate out those with skin diseases in those days. Did he actually have Hansen’s Disease, or what we today call “Leprosy?” Scholars are not sure. He may have had a chronic skin rash, like eczema or psoriasis, or even some sort of allergic reaction, like hives. Whatever the cause, he was dogged by this condition and apparently seemed eager to acquire a healing. He learns from his wife, who has a Hebrew slave girl, that there is a prophet in Israel, Elisha, to whom he could go to ask for his healing. So we have a proud, accomplished, but desperate man going along with the suggestion of a little slave girl.

His King gives him leave to go to Israel. He carries with him a letter saying words to the effect that, Here’s my general who comes in peace.…He also brings along a generous payment: 750# of silver; 150# of gold; and 10 sets of clothing. Relying on the usual diplomatic channels (go to the king 1st), he presents himself to the Joram, the King of Israel. Joram is Ahab’s and Jezebel’s son (he ruled 11 years, from 852-841BC. He was not as evil as his father and mother, but also not a true believer in God. King Joram freaks out when this very successful, powerful enemy warrior shows up! Joram, in his panic, forgets Elisha. He mistakenly believes Naaman expects him to heal him, saying Am I God? He is afraid his inability to effect a healing will become a reason to break off diplomatic relations and will precipitate a renewal of war. He tears his garments not in grief, but in frustration and despair. Elisha hears of the General’s visit (the Northern Kingdom was a small country).

Elisha chides the king (verse 8) Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know there is a prophet in Israel. Joram should have prayed, rather than freaking out! He should have called upon the prophet as God’s spokesperson.

In verse 9, Chariots blazing, Naaman arrives at Elisha’s like a rock star! He has the retinue, the diplomatic power, and the wealth of a famous person. He proudly expects to be treated quickly and effectively. But, God intends to heal him as well as to humble him: (1.) The prophet does not even come to greet him, or to offer the barest of hospitality—water, oil, a kiss of greeting; (2.) He instead sends him a message by a servant (v.10) Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed: The grand man feels disrespected! He was used to being accorded what we refer to today as “all due respect.” He was expecting some religious ceremony (verse 11) I thought he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. And why should he wash in the piddley, muddy Jordan when there are cleaner, clearer, grander rivers in Damascus? He explodes into a fit of temper!

Notice that once again, a servant intervenes. Trusted underlings urge restraint and obedience: (verse 13) …if the prophet had said do some great thing, would you not have done it? So, in verse 14 he obediently and humbly washes 7 times in the Jordan and is cleansed/healed of his skin disease. Naaman then praises God (verse 15a) Now I know there is no God in all the world except in Israel. The great man has been humbled. He now has some new attitudes and has taken on some new behaviors.

His obedience, not the prophet’s ritual, had led to his healing. He was healed when he put aside his pride, his prejudice (against the Jordan), his preconceived notions (the prophet must perform some sort of ritual); and his pushback against simplicity. He was healed when he decided to trust in what his servants told him about the Hebrew God. He suddenly became so devoted to the God of the Hebrews that he carts back a wagon-load of Israelite soil to Syria. Many ancient peoples believed their gods were territorial, to be powerful only on their own soil. He does not yet know that the Hebrew God is God of all the earth, unlimited by country boundary-lines. And he promises that when he has to attend his king in Baal-worship, he will instead be praying in secret to the One True God. Naaman has been healed, humbled, and converted.

Our Gospel lesson today is from Luke 10:1-20 and it reveals a lesson similar to that of our passage from 2 Kings. 72 disciples are sent out in pairs to preach, teach, heal and deliver folks from demons. Jesus tells them to go where they are received (the way has been prepared); and to depend entirely on God for their provision. They come back rejoicing in their success, even over demons. There is a natural tendency to rejoice in our successes, isn’t there? But Jesus reminds them that they belong to God; that is, they are doing God’s work through the power of His Holy Spirit. We don’t want to get “the big head,” thinking our successes in ministry come from our own efforts.

Jesus then goes on to prophecy the future judgment of 3 Jewish communities: Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Unlike Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon, they have each had the opportunity to see Jesus and witness His teachings, healings, and miracles. Nevertheless, He knows they will have each rejected Him following His death on the Cross. As He says, rejecting Him is the same as rejecting God the Father. This is a case of hanging onto human pride (I know what is best for me.), leads to losing an opportunity for salvation.

Our God hates human pride: We are to put it to death. We are to stomp it out in ourselves. We are to smother or crush it. We are to be humble. Someone has once said, “Pride is the difference between what you are and what you think you are.”

It turns out that Samuel Morse was originally a painter of some renown. He was painting a portrait out of town when his wife became ill. Sadly she died before he’d even learned of her illness. Heartbroken, he set aside his painting and dedicated himself to developing a means of communicating, rapidly, over great distances. He eventually invented both the telegraph and the means to transmit messages on it, Morse Code. Even though he became very famous for these inventions, he remained humble, saying, “I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and He was pleased to reveal it to me.” Morse had the right heart attitude.

Consider the following poem by A. Dudley Dennison, Jr.:

Sometime when you are feeling important,

Sometime when your ego’s way up;

Sometime when you take it for granted

That you are the prize-winning “pup”;

Sometime when you feel that your absence

Would leave an unfillable hole,

Just follow these simple instructions,

And see how it humbles your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water,

Put your hand in it up to your wrist.

Now pull it out fast and the hole that remains

Is the measure of how you’ll be missed.

You may splash all you please as you enter,

And stir up the water galore,

But STOP and you’ll find in a minute,

It’s back where it was before.

Borrowed from Chuck Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, Word Publishing, 1998, p.467).

Let us Pray: Lord, we humbly ask You to help us to give God the glory for whatever we do of merit. We also ask, in Jesus’ name, that You would please save us all from the sin of pride! Amen!

©️2022 Rev. Dr. Sherry Adams

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Nursing Grudges

Pastor Sherry’s message for August/8/2021,

 Scriptures: 2 Sam 18:1-33; Ps 130; Eph 4:25-5:2; Jn 6:35, 41-51

    When I studied the readings for this Sunday, I realized pretty quickly that our Lord was speaking to me.  As a friend of mine from Tallahassee would say, “He had His thumb on my spine!”  You know that happens to us when we hear the Scripture passages read on Sunday, or there is something in the sermon that seems directly meant for me/us.  Back in the mid-80’s, when I was just coming to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it was hard to get myself to church on Sundays.  It was my only morning to sleep in.  But, often, when I would make myself go anyway, there was always something that spoke directly to me.  I realized that Satan tries to keep us from church.  The very time we think we just can’t go is the exact time that God has something special for us to hear or to learn.

    In our Old Testament lesson, 2 Sam 18:5-33, God really spoke to me this week, so I want to spend our time together this morning examining it.  This is one of those passages where the LORD does not sugar-coat the truth.  We see David, a man after God’s own heart, a mighty warrior and a great King, as a very imperfect father.    The context of the reading is Civil War.  Our passage opens with King David telling his army commanders to take it easy with the young man Absalom.  Why? What’s the deal? To find out we have to hit rewind:

    Some years prior, Amnon, the eldest of David’s sons, (born to David’s 3rd wife, Ahimnoan) raped his half-sister, the beautiful Tamar.  David was angry about this, but did not avenge Tamar.  (The patriarch, Jacob/Israel was going to allow the rapist of his daughter to marry her.)  This enraged his sons who then perpetrated vigilante justice toward the guy.  We don’t know why these two fathers did not bring their daughter’s rapists to justice.  Perhaps King David was still feeling guilty about his own sexual immorality with Bathsheba.  Perhaps he thought, “Who am I to punish him for actions I also took?”  Or maybe he realized this is part of the playing out of the consequences of his past sin:  The prophet Nathan had told him—even though God had forgiven him– Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house (2 Samuel 12:10).  Or perhaps David feared taking any punishing action would bring about some sort of bloodshed.  So, even though he could have insisted Amnon marry Tamar, David did not.  This apparent inability of King David to discipline his wayward son incensed Absalom, Tamar’s full brother (both children of David’s 4th wife, Maaca).  Absalom plotted revenge against Amnon—slyly, covertly– for 2 years.  He did not have the teaching of Paul in our Ephesians 4:26-27 lesson to guide him:  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry; and do not give the devil a foothold.  So he invited Amnon, together with his father’s other sons, to a sheep-shearing festival at his country home.  Absalom got Amnon drunk, then had him killed.  Now, just as David had Uriah killed so he could marry the pregnant Bathsheba, David must realize Absalom’s murder of his eldest son mirrors his own homicidal act.

     Knowing he has committed murder, punishable by death, Absalom hits the road and is separated—in exile– from his father for 3 years.  Scripture tells us that, all that time, David longed to see Absalom and mourned his absence (2 Samuel 13).  Curiously, though, he does not send for him.  Absalom is as good as banished.  David has now lost his 2 eldest sons-1 dead, one exiled. 

    in a complicated maneuver, Joab, David’s cousin and general, manipulates David into calling his Absolom home (2 Samuel 14).  David agrees, but does not allow Absalom into his presence.  Another 2 years go by and Absalom grows embarrassed, embittered.  Again, he has a long time to nurse a grudge against his father.   

    Notice that David is uncharacteristically unforgiving!  God has forgiven him of massive sins, but he has taken and nursed an offense toward his son.  The King has to be urged by his cousin to recall Absalom to Jerusalem.  Then, 2 years later, he has to be again urged by his cousin to reconcile with his son.

    So, 5 years after Absalom has killed Amnon (7 years after the rape of Absalom’s sister), David finally summons him.  He greets him with a kiss, but it is too little, too late.  The damage to their relationship has been compounded.  Many cultures in the ancient Near East then, as now, were “Shame-based cultures” (Honor bound).  A son, even a prince, did not shame his father.  By taking a father’s right to discipline Amnon, Absalom has shamed the King.  David had exhibited his corresponding displeasure by not inviting his son back home.  Contrast this with God’s example in the Prodigal Son story.  Privately David loves him and misses him, but publically his pride has taken a hit, and he harbors an offense against Absalom—he nurses a grudge.  He has built up a wall in his heart.  He has emotionally abandoned his son.

    For his part, Absolom is no better.  After having been exiled for 3 years, then waiting on his father to invite him back into his presence another 2, Absalom has grown embittered.  Like Father, like son.  He too has registered a hit to the pride, to the heart.  He too has taken offense and held onto it.  He too has established walls in his heart against his father.  From there, it’s a simple step to betraying his father.

    So Chapter 15 describes how he campaigns—over the next 4 years–to win over his countrymen.  He was exceedingly handsome, and we know from very robust Social Psychology research, that “pretty people” are often thought of more highly than they may actually deserve.  Though he had slain his ½ brother at his own table (a huge violation of ancient Near Eastern hospitality rules), he is now nice as can be to everyone.  It’s a presidential campaign!  He is kissing babies, promising tax cuts, and making promises he has no intention of keeping.  If he had had TV, he would have been giving interviews on cable news, and funding political ads, trying to displace his aging father in the public eye.  Then, before David even suspects what is happening, Absalom launches a coup.  And so we find ourselves in the current chapter:  Civil War, between father and son!

    David, the seasoned warrior, flees the city.  He has his experienced and loyal, professional army with him (like our Navy Seals, Special Forces, or trained military snipers).  They beg David not to go to battle with them due to his age (mid-50’s or 60’s?); they fear that if he were captured, it would mean certain defeat.  So David sees them off and asks them to spare the life of Absalom.

    But Absalom is not a warrior (he is instead a shrewd politico). He takes time to call in Israelite citizens to bear arms in his name.  These may be like our national guard, having some training, but lacking the experience of life-long soldiers.  The armies encounter each other in a large forest—never a good place for a battle.  Trees, hills, cliffs, and lakes appear to have impeded troop movements.  David’s veterans overcome the larger, inexperienced forces.  Absalom may have been trying to retreat, when his marvelous hair entraps him (He was known for his good looks and his long, thick, beautiful hair).  Even though Joab, David’s cousin (Absolom’s 2nd cousin), had been told to capture, not kill the rebel prince, Joab kills him anyway and buries his body in a pit.  Perhaps Joab reasoned that Absalom’s implacable hate would never soften into forgiveness, and that he would always present a threat to David’s throne.  Whatever his reason, he ruthlessly brings a sad chapter to an end:  A second cousin kills a second cousin; the predicted sword has clearly become embedded in David’s house.

    All that is left now is the duty of telling the king.  In an strange little sidebar, two men compete to bring the news.  Oddly, the priest’s son, Ahimaaz—a speedy runner—wants to bring David the bad news.  But cousin Joab insists on sending a foreign slave, a nimble, fleet-footed Ethiopian.  Ahimaaz beats the Cushite to David, but finds he cannot tell the King his son is dead; neither really can the slave.  They both answer the King obliquely, but David guesses the truth.  David is bereft!  Oh my son, Absalom!  My son, my son, Absalom!  Many commentators call this the most moving scene of a father’s grief in all of literature!  David’s heart appears to be broken.  In spite of all that Absalom had done to hurt him, in spite of having to again flee from a rival king set on killing him, David grieves the loss of his son.

    What might God be saying to us today through this ancient account?  

    1.) What do we do when people we care about take offense?  We cannot hang on to offenses, nurse grudges, or harbor hurt feelings.  They expand over time.  As we see in this account, they harden into bitterness.  They shrivel our hearts and separate us from God.  We must recognize and take responsibility for our own sins of pride—who are we to hold onto resentments when Jesus Christ forgave His murderers from the Cross?  We must forgive the offense, pray for the person who offended us, and attempt to make amends.  From the perspective of time and distance, we can see where either Absalom or David could have mended the breach.

           2.) Isn’t it true that we reap what we sow?  David killed a man so he could have that man’s wife.  In the very next generation one son is sexually immoral, ravaging a woman who was not his wife.  The second son kills the first.  God forgives us of our sins—if we just humble ourselves and ask it of Him.  But He often lets us live with the fruit/the consequences of our mistakes, either in our own lives, or in our children’s or grandchildren’s generations.

3.) Forgive, before it’s too late. I picture King David wailing, keening his grief, sobbing with regret, wishing he had handled Amnon, Tamar, and Absalom differently–three children’s lives ruined. David must have been so sorry that he had not been as competent a father as he had been a king. What if he had sought out God in his parenting, as he did in so many other facets of his life? In Psalm 130:1 the psalmist laments, Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. In parenting, in all things, let us call upon the Lord…for wisdom to respond to our children in a righteous way; for assistance in not taking offense (or holding onto one); and for the grace to forgive as we have been forgiven. Amen! May it be so.

©️2021 Rev. Dr. Sherry Adams

The Dangers of Pride

Pastor Sherry’s message for Jul 11, 2021

Scriptures: 2 Sam 6:1-23; Ps 24; Eph 1:3-14; Mk 6:14-29

Last week, we looked at what Scripture had to say about humility…about how frustration and disappointment—if we will depend upon God–can teach us patience, deepen our faith, and develop our character. This week, as the Lord would have it, our readings demonstrate how our God deals with pride, the opposite of humility.

The following are three illuminating stories of pride:

1. There is a fable of two ducks and a frog who lived together happily in a farm pond. The three were the best of friends. When the hot, dry days of August and September came, however, their pond began to shrink, and it soon became evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, who could easily fly to another, bigger pond, but the frog was out of luck. One of them developed the bright idea to put a stick in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to another pond. The plan worked well, so well, in fact, that–as they were flying along–a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, “Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?” The frog said, “I did….” Poor frog! Taking credit for the idea led to his death! If he’d kept his mouth shut, he might have survived.

2. During the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War, Union general John Sedgwick was inspecting his troops. At one point he came to a parapet in the fort, over which he gazed out in the direction of the enemy. His officers suggested that this was unwise and perhaps he ought to duck while visible to the enemy. “Nonsense,” snapped the general. “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist–.” A moment later Sedgwick fell to the ground, fatally wounded. This General was arrogant. His prideful dismissal of his subordinates’ wisdom cost him his life.

3. Finally, A young woman asked for an appointment with her pastor to talk with him about a habitual sin about which she was worried. When she saw him, she said, “Pastor, I have become aware of a sin in my life which I cannot control. Every time I am at church I begin to look around at the other women, and I realize that I am the prettiest one in the whole congregation. None of the others can compare with my beauty. What can I do about this sin?” The pastor replied, “Mary, that’s not a sin, why that’s just a mistake!” The young woman had developed “the big head” about her looks. She was blinded by her pride and failed to consider that she might not have been, as they say, “all that.”

Some well-known proverbs reveal to us what God thinks of our pride:

1. Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction [certainly true of the frog and the general], a haughty spirit before a fall [true of the young woman].

2. Proverbs 19:23 A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit [a humble man] gains honor.

3. Isaiah 25:11 Speaking of one of Israel’s enemies, the prophet announces, God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands.

Our Scripture passages today reveal more about how God responds to the proud (and to the humble):

A. Our Old Testament reading, 2 Samuel 6:1-23, describes King David’s two attempts to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Back in 1 Samuel 5, we learned that the Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant. This was a trunk-sized wooden box, made of acacia wood, and covered with gold. It is said to have been a foreshadowing of Christ. Its wood represented Jesus’ humanity; its gold, His divinity. Thus, the box signified God’s earthly throne or reign and His presence with His people (Immanuel, God with us). So when the Philistines captured it, they thought they had control over Israel’s God and thus over Israel.

But God had other ideas. When the Philistines put the Ark in the temple they had built to their god, Dagon, they were shocked to discover the first morning thereafter that the stature of Dagon had fallen on its face before the Ark. They set Dagon back upright only to discove, on the 2nd morning, that the idol had again fallen before the Ark, this time with its head and hands broken off. God was signifying to them that their idol was witless and powerless before Him.

Next, they tried placing the box in different Philistine cities. But each time, the citizens there broke out in a plague characterized by gross tumors all over the body; and the city was overrun by a horde of rats. Totally freaked out, these citizens would then rush the Ark to another city. In each of the 5 major Philistine cities, the same thing happened. Finally, the Philistines decided it was dangerous for them to hold onto the Hebrew “God-in-the-box.” Respectfully, they placed the box on a cart and let it loose. The cows pulling the Ark “miraculously” traveled back to Israel. Interestingly, the Philistines were not killed for the handling the Ark, due to their ignorance of Torah.

This is where we find ourselves in today’s passage King David wants to bring the Ark to Mt. Zion (highest point of Jerusalem, but with no Temple as yet). So, with all the best of intentions, he takes 30,000 men, 7 choirs, an orchestra and priests, and goes to retrieve the Ark. Obviously, he made of this a big deal. David recognizes that he reigns at the pleasure of God Himself. His government is less a monarchy than a theocracy, with God at the top. Thus, bringing the Ark to Jerusalem would indicate that the Lord was sovereign over both David and all the people.

Again, let’s remember that David’s intentions were the best.

But the way he went about it infuriated God. With our God, the end never justifies the means. The Ark had settled on the property of a man named Abinadab. King David brought a new cart and had Abinadab’s sons, Uzzzah and Ahio, guide the oxen. But, when it looked like ruts in the road might cause the Ark to slide off the cart, Uzzah put his hands on it and was killed…YIKES! Everyone was shocked! Their joyous worship immediately ceased! David is stunned and becomes angry at God. No doubt he experienced colossal embarrassment and humiliation. But he also lacked understanding: Just because he is king doesn’t give him license to approach God any old way! The Lord wants him to realize and model reverence to God the way God wants to be reverenced.

In his wounded pride, King David withdraws and sulks. The procession leaves the Ark at the farm of Obed-Edom—for 3 months–and retreats to Jerusalem. Thankfully, the king humbles himself and studies Scripture to learn from Torah how God desires His Ark to be approached. Maybe David reread Numbers 4:15 in which God gives His specific instructions re how to carry His Ark After Aaron and his sons [the high priest and priests at the time of the Exodus] have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, the Kohathites [Cohans] are to come to do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. Levites from the family of Kohan were to carry it. They were not to lay their hands on it, but to place poles through the rings on is corners, and carry those poles on their shoulders. God is not harsh, He is HOLY! There are right and wrong ways to approach Him. In other words, for the Israelites, ignorance of the Law is no excuse.

Notice, David pouts for a while, but he does not turn from God when he doesn’t understand His actions—he doesn’t let his pride get in the way of his relationship with the Lord. Instead, he humbles himself and tries to understand the Lord. So, after 3 months, David goes back to get the Ark. Notice what he does differently: He had the Ark carried as God required. After 6 steps, he had the procession stop and make an offering for their sins. He admitted his sin and the sins of the people. Hebrews 9:19-22 tells us that all true worship of God is predicated on sacrifice: David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. (But we have Jesus, the once and for all perfect sacrifice for our sins…no more animal sacrifices, Praise God!) Then King David lead the procession, worshipping God with total abandon. Our psalm appointed for today was written by David to celebrate bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. By dancing, without his royal robes, He was showing his people that even their king humbled himself before the Lord.

However, his wife, Michal (Saul’s daughter), was scandalized!

Filled with pride, she judged her husband‘s behavior as demeaning and vulgar. But David would not be deterred, saying, (v.21) I will celebrate before the Lord. He apparently then separated himself from her, keeping her in the palace but never again visiting her. She died childless, an indication to the Hebrews of having not been blessed by God.

B. Let’s also consider the cost of pride in today’s Gospel, Mark 6:14-29. Herod Antipas, a Roman puppet and not a true believer, is serving as ruler of Judea. Believing enough to seek and dabble in religion, but not enough to commit or change the way he lives, he is respectful of, maybe even intimidated by, John the Baptist. His wife, Herodias, hates John the Baptist because he has publicly denounced them both as adulterers; and he has also called them to repent of their moral and leadership failures. Some scholars believe Herod may have had JtB arrested to protect him from his Herodias’ vengeance.

Nevertheless, she gets a chance to gain revenge when Herod makes a rash promise to her dancing daughter, the alluring Salome. Herod is so pleased with her performance that he offers her whatever she wants, up to ½ his kingdom. What a foolish boast! At Herodias’ advice, she asks for the head of JtB. What a senseless jam Herod has put himself in! He has sought to protect John from Herodias; but, if he rescinds his boast to Salome, he stands to lose face before his guests. In the choice between righteousness humility and foolish pride, he chooses pride. JtB is immediately beheaded,

Salome is later married off to Herod’s brother, her uncle—YUCK! This could have been quite the punishment. Finally, the Romans eventually banish Herodias and Herod to Gaul, the primitive outer-beyond of those times.

So what is our Lord telling us about pride through these Biblical folks? We want to avoid the dangers of pride because pride is costly. At best, it costs you your reputation, your influence, your marriage.

At worst, it can cost you your life. Ben Franklin, in his autobiography wrote, “There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

We also want to recognize when we are acting out of pride, then apologize to God and humble ourselves. When we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, He will lift us up (James 4:10).

Honestly, most of us need the assistance, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to overcome our pride. But remember, King David got it and so can we!

©️2021 Rev. Dr. Sherry Adams