Unveiling Pride in the Bible: 10 Key Examples

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Have you ever wondered about the dangers of pride in the Bible? Throughout the Bible, there are numerous examples of individuals who let their pride take the reins, leading to their ultimate downfall.

In this article, we will examine ten key examples of pride in the Bible, each serving as a cautionary tale of the negative consequences of arrogance and self-importance.

So, let’s delve into some of the most infamous examples of prideful behavior in the Bible and learn valuable lessons from their stories.

King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26)

King Uzziah of Judah started his reign at the age of 16 and ruled for 52 years, becoming one of the most successful kings in Judah’s history. He was determined to follow God, and as a result, God prospered him in every endeavor. He defeated the Philistines, fortified Jerusalem, and expanded his kingdom.

Uzziah’s success led to pride, and he took it upon himself to perform the priestly duties and burned incense in the temple, which was only permissible for the priests.

As a result, God struck him with leprosy, and he remained a leper until his death. The downfall of King Uzziah serves as a warning against pride and the dangers of overstepping boundaries.

King Uzziah's downfall due to pride

“But when he had become strong, he grew arrogant to his ruin” – 2 Chronicles 26:16

Haman (Book of Esther)

The story of Haman in the Book of Esther is a prime example of how pride can lead to one’s downfall. Haman was an important advisor to King Ahasuerus and was highly esteemed in the king’s court. However, Haman’s pride caused him to seek recognition and honor that he felt were due to him.

When Mordecai, a Jew, refused to bow down to him, Haman’s hatred for Mordecai grew, and he decided to plot to annihilate the Jews. Haman’s pride was so great that he could not bear the thought of anyone, especially a Jew, defying him. This led to his eventual downfall when the plot was uncovered, and the king realized Haman’s evil intentions.

The story of Haman serves as a warning against pride and the destructive nature of harboring hatred and bitterness in one’s heart.

plot to annihilate the Jews

“Haman has built a gallows fifty cubits high and has asked the king to have Mordecai hanged on it. The king orders Haman to hang on the gallows he had built for Mordecai.”

Book of Esther 7:9-10

Nabal (1 Samuel 25)

In the book of 1 Samuel, we find a wealthy and rude man named Nabal. Despite David and his men providing protection for Nabal’s flock, Nabal refused to offer any assistance to them. His prideful attitude nearly brought about the destruction of his household.

David was angered by Nabal’s refusal to help and set out to take revenge. It was only through the intervention of Nabal’s wise and discerning wife, Abigail, that disaster was averted. Abigail’s humility and quick thinking demonstrated the importance of defusing volatile situations through wise and thoughtful action.

It is easy to fall into the trap of pride, believing that our status or wealth makes us superior to others. The story of Nabal serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the importance of showing kindness and generosity to those around us.

almost destroyed household image

“As she fell at his feet and said, ‘On me alone, my lord, be the guilt; please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant…'” – 1 Samuel 25:24

The Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-22)

The story of the rich young ruler illustrates how pride and wealth can be obstacles to following Jesus. The young man approached Jesus and asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life. He boasted about keeping the commandments and living a righteous life, but Jesus knew his true heart.

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

The Rich Young Ruler was unwilling to let go of his wealth and possessions, revealing his true attachment to them. His pride in his own moral achievements and material wealth served as a stumbling block to fully committing to Christ.

He walked away sad, unwilling to give up what he had, and missed the opportunity for spiritual transformation.

Rich Young Ruler

In today’s money-driven culture, it can be easy to put our trust in wealth and material possessions. However, this story reminds us of the importance of humility and prioritizing our faith over material gain.

Remember, true wealth is found in the treasures of heaven, and prideful attachments to earthly possessions can hinder our relationship with God.

Gehazi (2 Kings 5)

Gehazi was a servant of Elisha, who demonstrated pride and greed when he deceitfully acquired gifts from Naaman, despite Elisha’s refusal to accept anything.

Gehazi’s actions reveal the dangerous consequences of pride and the selfish desires that can emerge from it. His treacherous behavior serves as a warning to follow the right path and abstain from vanity.

Gehazi, a servant of Elisha, acquiring gifts from Naaman through deceit.

“My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”

2 Kings 5:20 (NIV)

Gehazi’s deceitful actions led Elisha to curse him, and he was subsequently afflicted with Naaman’s leprosy. This fitting punishment made Gehazi pay the price for his prideful behavior and serves as a valuable lesson on the dangers of greed and the importance of obeying the righteous path.

The Elder Brother in the Prodigal Son Parable (Luke 15:11-32)

The parable of the prodigal son is well-known but often focuses on the younger son’s redemption story. However, the elder brother’s prideful and uncompassionate attitude towards his return serves as a warning against the dangers of self-righteousness.

Instead of celebrating his brother’s homecoming, the elder brother is resentful and furious at his father’s graciousness, saying in Luke 15:30, “But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” His arrogant tone and refusal to forgive his brother highlight the destructive nature of pride.

“The elder brother in this parable reminds us that self-righteousness and an uncompassionate attitude is as much of a sin as the younger brother’s recklessness.”

Elder Brother in the Prodigal Son Parable

His lack of empathy and compassion is further demonstrated in his complaint to his father that he had never been given a party despite his many years of faithful service, revealing his entitlement and self-importance.

In contrast to the father’s love and forgiveness, the elder brother’s pride almost prevented him from experiencing the joy of reconciliation.

Pharaoh of the Exodus (Exodus 5-14)

Pharaoh is one of the most famous examples of pride in the Bible. Despite being warned by Moses of the dire consequences of refusing to release the Israelites from slavery, Pharaoh stubbornly refused to listen. His hardened heart and prideful defiance led to Egypt suffering through the ten devastating plagues.

Each of the plagues was specifically designed to undermine the Egyptian deities and show God’s power over them.

From the turning of the Nile into blood and the infestation of frogs to the darkness that descended over Egypt and the final plague that took the lives of all the firstborn males, the plagues were a dramatic demonstration of God’s sovereignty.

Despite the suffering of his people and the clear evidence of God’s power, Pharaoh continued to resist. In the end, it was only with the death of his own firstborn son that he finally relented and allowed the Israelites to leave.

Ten plagues

“But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.” – Exodus 9:12

The story of Pharaoh’s downfall is a powerful reminder of the consequences of prideful stubbornness. It also emphasizes the importance of heeding God’s warnings and not allowing our own pride to blind us to the truth.

Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24)

Have you heard of Simon the Sorcerer? This man’s prideful nature led him down a dangerous path.

Initially, Simon showed interest in the Christian faith and was even baptized. However, his desire for power and to maintain his status as a sorcerer clouded his judgment.

When he saw the apostles performing miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit, Simon offered to buy that power for himself. Peter rebuked him, saying, “May your silver perish with you because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!” (Acts 8:20).

Simon’s desire for power and wealth ultimately led him astray, blinding him to the true nature of faith in Jesus Christ.

The Destructive Nature of Pride

This table illustrates some of the destructive consequences of pride:

ConsequenceExample
Blindness to TruthSimon the Sorcerer’s inability to see the true nature of faith
Separation from OthersSimon’s attempt to buy the Holy Spirit created a rift between him and the apostles
Loss of BlessingsSimon missed out on the true blessings of faith in Jesus Christ due to his prideful desires

Truly, pride can be an insidious force that leads us down a path of destruction. It is important to remain humble and to seek God’s will rather than our own selfish desires.

Diotrephes (3 John 1:9-10)

In the book of 3 John, John calls out Diotrephes for his prideful and domineering behavior in the church. Diotrephes’ refusal to welcome other believers and his habit of gossiping serves as a warning against prideful and divisive actions.

In today’s world, it is important to be hospitable and inclusive to all, regardless of any differences. Diotrephes’ actions show us that prideful behavior and gossiping only lead to division and conflict, ultimately harming the community as a whole.

Let us strive to be humble and welcoming, putting aside our own egos in service to a higher goal of unity and love.

The Pharisee in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is an essential story that emphasizes the importance of humility and denounces pridefulness. In this story, the Pharisee demonstrates a spirit of self-exaltation and despises the tax collector in his prayer.

“God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”

He showed off his religious devotion and elevated himself over the tax collector, who humbly sought God’s mercy.

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'”

The Pharisee’s pride blinded him to his spiritual need and prevented him from receiving God’s mercy. In contrast, the tax collector’s honest confession led to his spiritual renewal and redemption.

This parable highlights the dangers of self-exaltation and the importance of genuine repentance. It teaches that humility and honesty before God are the keys to spiritual growth. Let the Pharisee’s mistake in this story be a cautionary lesson to guard against the subtle trap of pride in your own life.

Conclusion

Reflecting on these ten examples of pride in the Bible, you can see the disastrous consequences that come with arrogance and self-importance. Each cautionary tale serves as a reminder of the importance of humility and the dangers of prideful behavior.

From King Uzziah’s downfall to Diotrephes’ divisive actions, these stories are relevant today, as we navigate our own lives and interactions. By internalizing these lessons, you can cultivate a spirit of humility and avoid the pitfalls of pride.

Remember, as you strive for success and recognition, pride can be a subtle and insidious obstacle to your spiritual and personal growth. Through self-reflection, prayer, and mindful awareness, you can avoid the path of pride and embrace a more authentic, compassionate, and fulfilling life.

So take these examples to heart, and strive to stay grounded in humility, gratitude, and kindness. By doing so, you can avoid the pitfalls of pride and experience a more joyous and rewarding life.

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Allan Wilson is the creator of the Scriptural Thinking Affirmations Package. Featuring over 200 minutes of mp3 audio Bible affirmations complete with background music. The package comes with the original affirmations PDF ebook and many bonus affirmation Bible studies as well. The affirmations are designed to help you call to remembrance all of the wonderful benefits of being in Christ and the marvelous privilege of being a child of God.