The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt were perhaps the most foolhardy of men when it came to defying the adage, “You can’t take it with you”. The pyramids stand today as marvels of engineering and construction, intended to serve as shrines not only entombing Egypt’s kings, but also securing riches and possessions for life after death. The futility of coveting riches has been borne out by the reality that, almost without exception, thieves have plundered those ancient treasuries of the dead.
In Proverbs 18:11, Solomon imparts to his son a principle concerning the rich and their wealth.
Proverbs 18:11 – “The rich man’s wealth [substance; possessions] is his strong [strength; refuge] city [i.e. walled city], and as an high [safe; strong; inaccessible] wall [fortification] in his own conceit [imagination; opinion].”
Wealth imparts to its owner a degree of temporal security; however, like all things that are earthly, riches are fleeting and the security they offer artificial.
The heart of Belshazzar was lifted up with pride behind the great walls of ancient Babylon (Daniel 5). Boasting of his power and wealth, the king defied the God of Heaven and treated the sacred vessels of the Temple with disdain. The proud king realized too late that his faith in riches and the walls of Babylon would not spare him from God’s wrath and the vengeance of an enemy.
Our second parable for the day, Proverbs 18:12, sets forth a contrast between the fate of the proud and the reward of the humble.
Proverbs 18:12 – “Before [face; presence] destruction [breach; ruin; vexation] the heart [mind; thoughts; feelings] of man is haughty [proud; lifted up; exalted], and before honour [glory; reputation] is humility [meekness; gentleness; modesty].”
Sinful pride is part of man’s spiritual DNA and is the precursor to his destruction. It is pride that moves a man’s spirit to defy an all-powerful God and rebel against authority. It is pride that blinds, binds and inevitably demands God’s judgment (James 4:6).
While the proud follow a path of self-destruction, the humble and meek find favor with God and man.
I close with two verses I invite you to ponder.
Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
Proverbs 15:33 – “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”