For the week of December 5, 1998 / 16 Kislev 5759
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 32:4-36:43
Haftarah: Obadiah 1
The Deception of Pride
The pride of your heart will deceive you (Obadiah 1:3)
Edom was a nation bordering ancient Israel, that was made up of the descendants of Jacob's twin brother Esau. Our portion refers to them living in the clefts of the rocks and making their home on the heights. This signifies that they lived in an area that provided them with natural protection against enemies.
Evidently Edom regarded itself as a strong and secure nation. But the prophet calls this pride. Not only that, but this pride of theirs would lead to their downfall.
Many of us are know the familiar Proverb, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). There is something about pride that results in great negative consequences.
What is pride? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as "inordinate self esteem." In other words, it is to have an inflated view of ourselves. Thinking that we are greater than we really are.
Sometimes we confuse pride with confidence. Confidence may or may not be prideful depending on what we base that confidence. If it is based on reality and truth, then it is not pride.
David in the Bible was confident that he would defeat Goliath (see 1 Samuel 17). His confidence was based on his experience as a shepherd and what he knew of his God. David's confidence did not come about because he psyched himself up, or because he practiced the art or positive thinking. It was based on reality.
On the other hand Edom took confidence in their own strength and geographical advantage. In this case their confidence was unfounded. They didn't understand that without God's protection, they were in serious trouble. All the confidence in the world would do them no good.
This is why Obadiah says that their pride would deceive them. They were confident. They felt secure. But they were wrong. Pride was at work in their hearts and fooled them into thinking that they would be alright when they were on way to destruction.
We need to take a good look at what and in whom we are placing our confidence. As it also says in Proverbs, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2).
We have good reason to be confident and secure, if we place our confidence in God.
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