He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.
I have a habit of highlighting my Bible, perhaps a habit from my literature days, and Proverbs 3 is one of those chapters that isn’t short but still feels like every verse can be highlighted. In re-Ver(sing) Verses I believe that every verse can be studied by referring to the rest of the Bible, but some verses just do sound nicer and easier to remember – the entire book of Proverbs, in fact, sound nice. Then again, it’s called Proverbs. Every verse is a wise saying. It has to sound nice. Proverbs 3:34 may not be the most popular verse in this chapter (I would think Proverbs 3:5-6 is), but it is not obscure either – several other renditions of this verse states: God opposes the proud [1 Peter 5:5, James 4:6] – but this verse is likely where they quoted from, and the word ‘mock‘ gives us greater insight to the definition of proud people according to the Bible.
Analysis: What is pride?
The Biblical version of proud people usually have these characteristics – They are unwilling to associate with people of low positions; they oppose people due to their self-absorption; they scorn others. It should be noted that this list is not exhaustive – I’m merely picking 3 points that came to mind at the point of writing. It is deliberate that I’ve chosen characteristics that relate to others; although that doesn’t mean that being proud has nothing to do with the self. On the contrary, pride begins with the self – but there will be a better day to discuss that.
1. Unwilling to associate with people of low positions [Rom 12:16] – this connotes a prioritizing of reputation and fame. To maintain his status, a proud man has no patience for the lesser. He sees human beings as not equal beings, but places great value in the classification and the segregation of people according to wealth, lineage, occupation, race, or other physical/health conditions.
2. Opposing others [Acts 7:51] – A haughty man exalts himself and despises others. Only his words matter. Everybody else should just listen to him. His plans would surely work best. Other people shouldn’t even speak up. This also applies to the opposing of God. This was what Stephen the Martyr said before the Pharisees became furious and stoned him to death: You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! [Acts 7:51]. Stiff-necked is an analogy of arrogance, unwilling to turn their necks to look at others, stubborn in their self-beliefs and indulgence.
3. Mocking others [Prov 21:24] – They don’t just avoid people, they don’t just oppose them, but they make it a point to scorn them, mock them, insult them. One of the most prominent examples was in the life of Christ – when he was arrested, the guards mocked him [Luke 22:63] (they even beat him up); when he was on the cross, the soldiers mocked him [Luke 23:36]. The timing is impeccable – Jesus had just prayed what’s perhaps the most famous line out of the 7 sentences of the cross – Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing [Luke 23:34]. That’s slightly out of point, but think about it, what did the soldiers and the others mock and sneer at him for? Not saving himself when he claimed to be king of the Jews, Christ of God. What a contrast between the humble – He who is willing to sacrifice himself and always put others in front of himself – and the proud, who assumed they were right, who only wanted to believe that they were right, and ended up mocking a man who was the Son of God.
Analysis: What is humble?
I would like to say that humility is simply the opposite of pride. But humility does not come across as the absence of pride. It does not come across as the lack of pride. A lack of pride connotes that one is ashamed, and we have been reminded again and again in the New Testament not to be ashamed (barring sin) [Rom 1:16, Mark 8:38, 2 Tim 1:8, 2 Tim 1:12]. Using the above model that was applied for pride, I would like to point out very briefly three characteristics of humility:
1. Lifting others up [Phil 2:3], obeying God [Phil 2:8], denying yourself [Luke 9:23|Article]
2. Be willing to associate with people of low positions [Rom 12:16]; help and give cheerfully [Matthew 23:12]
3. Encouraging others [Prov 27:2], worshiping God [Phil 2:10].
I dont know about you, but I’m fearful of being opposed by God. I seriously don’t know if anything in life can be worse than that – that’s such a seemingly hopeless and helpless scenario. It’s probably not the most healthy thing in the world to only be humble because you fear God – yet the moment we lose the holy fear, it becomes a lot easier to fall back into a worldly pride. While not discussing today, the consequences of pride have often been discussed at length in the Bible by the prophets, by the wisdom books’ authors, by the apostles, by Christ – and they are more often than not, frightening imagery that consist of destruction, death, wiping out of an entire generation, being swallowed up by a fish etc etc. Well, God was merciful to Jonah, but to be honest, I think being swallowed up by a fish is quite horrible. And for three days! Not being able to feel God‘s presence (and thus feeling like God is ignoring me) is already bad enough. But being opposed by God?
I don’t think any Christian would want it. Let’s not be proud, let’s not oppose God.