Pride is a sin that can infect our hearts and lead us down a dangerous path. Throughout Scripture, we see examples of how pride corrupted individuals and brought severe consequences. In this post, we will explore biblical stories that reveal the dire results of unchecked pride. Examining these accounts can help us identify prideful attitudes in our own lives and turn from them before they wreak havoc. Heeding these warnings allows us to walk in humility before God.
Pride has plagued humanity from the earliest days. It was pride that led Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, leading to the fall of man (Genesis 3:6). Through the centuries, pride has continued to separate us from God and others. The Bible makes it clear that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV).
When we become prideful, we elevate ourselves above others and even God. We focus on our own desires, talents, and achievements rather than humbly acknowledging our reliance on God. This self-absorption plants the seeds for disappointment, damage, and disaster in our lives and relationships.
In this post, we will study biblical examples of proud figures who faced dire consequences because of unchecked pride. We can learn critical lessons from their downfall about the dangers of prideful living. As we examine pride’s wake of destruction, may it stir us to embrace humility and surrender to God.
- Pride blinded King Uzziah, leading to his curse of leprosy.
- Nebuchadnezzar’s pride caused him to lose his sanity for 7 years.
- Haman’s pride led to his own execution on the gallows meant for Mordecai.
- The Pharisees’ pride made them unable to humbly accept Jesus.
- Pride can infect our hearts subtly and lead to our downfall if left unchecked.
- We must cultivate humility, acknowledging our dependence on God to resist pride’s lure.
King Uzziah’s Curse of Leprosy
King Uzziah had experienced great success as king of Judah. He sought after God during the days of Zechariah and “as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5 NKJV). But later in his reign, “his heart was lifted up to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 26:16 NKJV). Uzziah’s pride led him to overstep his authority and burn incense in the temple, a sacred duty reserved only for the priests.
When confronted for his audacious act, Uzziah became furious. But in the midst of his rage, “the leprosy broke out on his forehead” (2 Chronicles 26:19 NKJV). This rapid onset of leprosy was evidence of God’s swift judgment against Uzziah’s pride. Leprosy forced him into isolation for the rest of his life, stripped of his royal power and duties. His pride cost him everything.
Uzziah’s story reminds us that pride can take root in our hearts subtly over time. We may initially seek God but then elevate ourselves and take liberties we ought not. Like Uzziah, we can easily prioritize our selfish ambitions over humble obedience to God if pride goes unchecked. But God sees the prideful heart and will discipline His children to bring us back to a right spirit before Him.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Descent into Madness
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was a powerful monarch who conquered many nations. His success and status filled him with pride. He looked out over his kingdom and boasted, “Is this not great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30 NKJV).
Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogant words were still on his lips when God’s judgment fell. He lost his mind and spent 7 years living like an animal, eating grass and dwelling outside with wild beasts. It was a startling and humiliating downfall for this once mighty king.
At the end of the 7 years, Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity was restored. With humility he finally praised and honored God, declaring, “I Nebuchadnezzar…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:37 NKJV). Nebuchadnezzar learned the difficult way that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
Like Nebuchadnezzar, when pride infects our hearts, it threatens our sanity and discernment. Pride distorts reality, making us feel entitled, invincible, and wiser than we ought. As Proverbs warns, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV). But as Nebuchadnezzar’s story shows, God can use even dramatic discipline to humble us and restore a right spirit within us.
Haman’s Botched Execution of Mordecai
As a high official in King Xerxes’ court, Haman’s ego was bruised when Mordecai refused to bow down to him. In his pride, “Haman was filled with wrath. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone” (Esther 3:5-6 NKJV). Haman convinces King Xerxes to let him execute not just Mordecai, but all the Jews in the kingdom.
Haman builds massive gallows to hang Mordecai publicly. But God intervenes through Queen Esther to expose Haman’s wicked plot. King Xerxes grows enraged at Haman and orders him hanged on the very same gallows meant for Mordecai! “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai” (Esther 7:10 NKJV).
Haman’s story reveals how quickly pride can turn us into vengeful, murderous fools. In his narcissistic rage at Mordecai, Haman chose drastic, excessive force. His wounded ego led him to attack an entire people group, not just his supposed rival. Our pride can similarly cause us to act rashly, brutally lashing out at perceived threats to our pride. But like Haman, our own pride often becomes the very thing that brings us to ruin.
The Pharisees’ Rejection of Jesus
The Pharisees were the religious elite of Jesus’ day. They strictly followed the law and wholeheartedly defended Jewish traditions. Most of the Pharisees also bitterly rejected Jesus and His teachings. Their pride blinded them to the truth standing before them.
Even as Jesus performed miracles, the Pharisees stubbornly refused to believe in Him. After Jesus healed a blind man, the Pharisees sneered, “Are we blind also?” (John 9:40 NKJV). Jesus replied, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains” (John 9:41 NKJV). The Pharisees’ prideful claim to perfectly understand God’s will was their downfall. Their pride prevented them from acknowledging their own blindness and recognizing Jesus as the Messiah.
Pride can make us unteachable. Like the Pharisees, pride causes us to be so confident in our own wisdom and discernment that we reject truth, even when it is staring us in the face. Our prideful resistance only further escalates our self-induced spiritual blindness. We deny our need for God’s illumination.
The Pharisees’ proud rejection of Christ reminds us of the dangerous blindness pride precipitates. May we humbly pray along with the psalmist, “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me” (Psalm 19:12-13 NKJV).
Be on Guard Against Pride
As we have seen through these examples, unchecked pride sets us up for destruction. When we become enamored with our own abilities, appearance, or achievements, it distorts our thinking. Like all sin, pride germinates and spreads in our hearts in small ways at first. We must be vigilant to guard our hearts, asking God to uproot prideful attitudes in us by His gracious Spirit.
The Bible makes it clear God opposes the proud (James 4:6). But “He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6 NKJV). As we humble ourselves and resist pride’s pull toward self-absorption, God promises to supply us with His empowering grace.
May we learn from those who cratered under the consequences of unchecked pride. And may God develop in us humble, Christlike hearts that fully rely on Him.
From the early Genesis account to the Pharisees’ resistance of Christ, Scripture warns us consistently about the dangers of pride. When we elevate ourselves rather than humbly serving God and others, we set ourselves up for disaster. But there is hope! God stands ready to forgive our pride, heal our hearts of arrogance, and revive in us spirits of wisdom, discernment, and humility. May we actively grow in humility each day, rejoicing in the grace God gives to the humble.