If you’ve ever felt the sting of a scorpion, you and I share a common awe at how something so small can produce a sting so painful. I get the same feeling from reading Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament. Written to ancient Edom east of the Jordan River, Obadiah gives a stinging rebuke to the sin of pride.
(Photo: The Treasury facade at Petra, Jordan—the area of ancient Edom)
The geography of Edom provided an almost impenetrable fortress. Invading armies could enter only by snaking through difficult mountain passes. This location gave the people of Edom great national security and led to some colossal arrogance on their part. “The pride of your heart has deceived you,” the Lord told them, “you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights” (Obadiah 1:3, NIV).
The Edomites’ misplaced pride would later become their undoing.
Applying Edom’s Flaw To Our Lives
Edom’s geography bears a resemblance to our affluence today. Our self-reliant culture crows:
- “Never take guff!”
- “Depend on no one!”
- “Save face at all costs!”
Pride alone fuels this counsel. When we feel self-secure, we sense no need for anything or anyone else—even God. Our physical resources tempt us to reject any external influence in our lives. But as the Lord told the Edomites, such an attitude smacks of overconfidence: “The pride of your heart has deceived you.”
Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong. Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak. —John Piper
Just as arrogance would displace the Edomites, so our pride will betray us unless we walk with God in humility (see Micah 6:8). God never created us to live in independence from Him, but in dependence on Him. Our model of humility? The One who is gentle and humble of heart (Matthew 11:29). What an honor to rely on the Lord of whom alone we boast . . . and from whom alone we receive all we need.
If we’re honest, we have to confess that the last stronghold in our hearts is defended by pride.
Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2006), p. 129. Used by permission.