Pride Versus Praise

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

We are nearing the end of the first half of Isaiah’s message. Chapter 40 begins a new emphasis.

Prideful trust in human power and abilities is one of the major themes of the first section of Isaiah.

In contrast to pride, Isaiah presents an alternative. Trust in God that is rooted in an understanding of God’s character is what is most needed.

Arrogance and pride worship at the altar of self-will. Trust is learned by interaction with God in prayer and praise.

Pride on Display

The king of Assyria, Sennacherib, was the embodiment of prideful self-sufficiency.

His arrogant words mocked the One True God. Notice how envoys from Sennacherib placed the Lord alongside the false gods of the nations. Pay attention to how the Assyrians believed that their human power could overcome God’s might.

“Do not let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, The Lord will save us. Has any of the gods of the nations saved their land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

“Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?

“Who among all the gods of these countries have saved their countries out of my hand, that the Lord should save Jerusalem out of my hand?” (Isaiah 36.18-20).

It is true of humans that thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, and habits determine character.

We may never be a bold as the Assyrian king with our boasting, but similar reliance on self and self-will affects our words, actions, habits, and determine our character.

Prideful Behavior

Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, and the leaders of Judah embodied arrogant behavior.

In a few short words, Isaiah summarized God’s plan of action for the nation.

If you do not stand firm in faith,
you shall not stand at all.
(Isaiah 7.9)

Instead of taking his stand upon trust in God, Ahaz allied with the nation that would become his greatest enemy, Assyria.

God offered to change Ahaz’s mind with a sign, but the king said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test” (Isaiah 7.12).

The chapters that follow this incident involve Isaiah’s attempt to convince the Southern Kingdom’s leaders to rely on God for their well-being. At each instance, they preferred their plans to trust in God.

What is worse than mocking God with human boasting? When we believe that God is unreliable and that we must take matters into our own hands, we express a human arrogance that is appalling.

As I write these words, I am convicted of how often I act as if God is not willing or able to be involved in my life. Possibly, your pride is like mine and you do the following, too.

— Make a decision without first praying about it.

— Fail to prayerfully read the Bible to know and do God’s will.

— Complain more about political leadership than engage in prayer for our nation’s leaders.

— Feel secure because of investments or a savings account.

— Seldom ask God what to do about physical health.

God’s answer to arrogance and pride is summarized in what he said to Sennacherib.

“I know your rising up and your sitting down,
your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me.

“Because you have raged against me
and your arrogance has come to my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth;
I will turn you back on the way
by which you came.”
(Isaiah 37.28-29)

God must resist human pride because of its corrosive effect on life. There is another way, the way of humble trust.

The Foundation of Praise

Trust in God is the foundation of praise. The first chapters of Isaiah read like an outline to the Book, and trust is highlighted at the very beginning.

If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land.
(Isaiah 1.19)

The source of well-being is a willingness to follow God’s direction. This behavior trusts that God is active in the world. It embraces God’s character that affirms he is loving, righteous, and just.

Praise is more than words and good feelings. God is most honored when his children fully rely on his goodness and might.

Hezekiah’s prayer incorporated both trust and praise. He said, “So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord” (Isaiah 37.20).

I am writing these words on a Sunday afternoon after a glorious Sunday morning at church. I sat in my favorite class and heard several stories that told of God’s help in times of need.

During the worship service, a young lady was baptized. Jesus transformed her from heroin addiction to a completely new person. She is a loyal employee and an effective witness to Jesus.

The most positive praise that I witnessed today featured people who behaved did as Hezekiah. They called on God and fully relied on him.

In turn, God delivered them and revealed his character to them and others.

Praise begins with thoughts that become words. The words turn into actions. The actions become habits and determine character.

Regular prayer and Bible reading influence our thoughts. Thoughts are turned into self-talk that confesses trust in God’s ability and willingness to be involved in our lives.

Words of trust are revealed in actions that rely on God. The more we rely on God, the more he shapes our character.

About This Blog

Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.

Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.

I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.

If you have a prayer request, please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.

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