Poisonous Pride

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

The two Chronicles relay an abundance of stories, wars, and dramas over its 49 chapters.  It can be easy to get lost in the genealogies and the complex political histories that the author casts out before us like a perplexing connect-the-dots with all of the numbers written in Hebrew. Despite the carefully crafted but sometimes complicated nature of Old Testament books, I believe that God continues to reveal prevalent truth to us, not just about historical events, but about human nature and the nature of God’s self. 

In 2 Chronicles 32, the Assyrian King Sennacherib (his name alone takes around 15 minutes to decipher its pronunciation) invades the Kingdom of  Judah and lays siege to its cities. Inside Judah, King Hezekiah encourages the People of God:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him” (v.7).

While Hezekiah works both to build up the city and its people, Sennacherib attempts to deject the people of Judah:

(Hezekiah) is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst” (v.11). 

Sennacherib developed a complete demoralization strategy. He wrote letters to people all across Judah, throwing contempt on Yahweh. He ordered his servants to shout over the city walls in the language of Judah in order to frighten them and spread misinformation.

Thankfully, in the middle of chapter 32, we find these words:

King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this.” (v.20). 

And when we pray, our God responds. To Hezekiah, God responded by sending an angel “who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king.” (v.21). 

Just like that, God took care of Judah’s greatest enemy. It’s a good story. It has a good lesson. 

But then the 32nd chapter takes an interesting turn:

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign” (v.24).

After Hezekiah grows deathly ill, he once again prays to the God who sends warrior angels against vast armies, and God answers his prayer, giving him a sign. 

Then comes the interesting part:

But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem” (v.25).

What does Hezekiah have to be proud of!? It wasn’t him who annihilated the Assyrian army, it was the Lord. He was lying on his death bed and he surely didn’t recover on his own. Instead, it was God who healed him. After all that Hezekiah has seen and experienced, why is it that in this moment he falls into the sin of pride?

When the Assyrians came against the city of Judah, it was easy for him to go to God on behalf of his neighbors and friends. But when he was struck with a personal illness, suddenly the spotlight shone only on him and pride made itself at home.

Pride can be invasive and precarious. It can slip into our hearts without our noticing, changing our outlook and turning our perspective inward. Pride can cause us to ignore our neighbors and highlight our personal issues. Like a poison, it can deteriorate our love for God and others. How can we be filled with selfless love if we are too consumed by love for ourselves?

If king Hezekiah can fall into the temptation of pride after seeing God wipe out the Assyrian army, how much more must we protect ourselves?

Humility comes by gathering into the presence of God and allowing His Spirit to fill us and  open our lips so that we can declare His praise (Psalm 51:15). 

Not our own.

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