The power and rewards of humility (Humility, part 4)
This is part 4 in our study of the particular fruit of the Spirit called humility. We have been finding examples of the power and rewards of humility. Another example is found in 2 Chronicles, chapter 12. This is a situation where the late King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, is facing foreign invasion from Egypt. This is a case, though, where it appears the repentance was somewhat more sincere and true than in the case of Ahab.
2 Chronicles 12:5 Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.
6 Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The LORD is righteous.
7 And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.
8 Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.
Allow me to interject an off-topic (but very important) observation at this point. Notice the very important biblical principle here. When God’s people are due for a national “whipping” (chastisement) from the Father, it sometimes manifests as a national captivity.
That captivity can be extraordinarily harsh and involve the deportation of the people of Israel to a foreign land (as in the Assyrian captivity of ten-tribed Israel commencing in 745 B.C.), or it can be a captivity involving a milder judgment which does not result in deportation, but “only” that the offending nation (in this case, the Kingdom of Judah) becomes subject to another nation while Judah remains in their own land.
Now here’s the point: God declares in verse 8 that serving the conquering king IS SERVING our heavenly Father! Need I comment on how that applies to those who might have ideas of refusing to bow and serve our present conqueror, Mystery Babylon the Great?! God put us (U.S.) into this captivity and He has ordained the time of our release!
I take back what I stated above when I initially thought this was an “off-topic” commentary. It is not off-topic at all because it is all about humility and humbling on the national scale!
9 So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.
Just briefly, let me read to you two other occasions where God rewarded humility in a similar manner. We remember the story of how the Assyrian king Sennacherib came to conquer Jerusalem and how an angel caused the deaths of 185,000 of the Assyrian army in one night! Sometime after that mighty deliverance, King Hezekiah of Judah was terminally ill, but when he prayed to God, God gave him a sign that he would have 15 more years. But then paraphrasing 2 Chronicles 32:25 it says that Hezekiah began to take his blessing for granted and “his heart was lifted up.” Which means that he grew proud.
2 Chronicles 32:26 Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah
The second occasion concerns the good king Josiah.
2 Chronicles 34:27 Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD.
28 Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again.
We can discern a principle here that national prosperity or calamity is directly tied to the heart of the national leader. Is he proud-hearted or is he humble? Does this fact not give us impetus to pray for our leaders even when—especially when—they are wicked and the most vile of men? I imagine that it was the understanding of this very principle that moved Paul to write to his protégé, Timothy.
1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority;…
Why do we pray for them?
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
It is clear that we have a very important self-interest in praying that God would grant humility to our leaders. Let us remember to do so, shall we?
In the New Testament (NT), we find any number of passages which deal with the rewards of humility. The paramount reward, of course, is rulership and/or entry into the kingdom of heaven. But aside from that, Jesus and the writers of the NT gave ample examples of rewards.
Jesus was no respecter of persons, was he? He got around in all the strata of society. He mingled with the high and low and everybody in between. He conversed with prostitutes, with the hated tax collectors, with rich young rulers, and in this case in Luke 14, Jesus is actually at a sabbath meal at the home of one of the chief Pharisees. They were not his most friendly audience. As He came into the house, Jesus had observed how the guests took their seats at the dinner table.
Luke 14:7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
“Chief rooms…” Does mean that there were several dining rooms? No, the word rooms is old English for “places. There was always a pecking order as to where the chief seats were at the dining area. I have explained that before in a lecture somewhere, how they actually reclined on the floor to eat, and the table was very low, and so forth. Anyhow, after noticing how they scrambled for the most prestigious places at the table, Jesus says:
8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
That is a very simple principle, isn’t it? Not too difficult to understand. I was at a wedding one time and this parable came to mind, so I decided to actually put it into practice. I deliberately sought out what I would have considered the least prestigious seat at the wedding meal. Have any of you ever done that? It was great fun. You know what happened to me?
Nothing! I stayed right there the whole meal, through the wedding toasts, through the dessert course, right to the end. Neither the bride nor groom nor best man nor anyone else came to me and said, “friend, go up closer to the head of the table.” Nope! I had obviously found my place at the bottom. It was a great lesson for me!
Additionally, what was absolutely amazing to me at that event, was that I absolutely knew that I belonged right at the bottom of the pecking order. I came to that knowledge because of some astounding “coincidences” which occurred between me and the person sitting next to me whom I had never met prior to coming to the wedding. I cannot share the details because they are of a personal nature.
But obviously, had I been seated anywhere else, it would have been like two ships passing in the night. Neither of us would have ever known anything about the other. What a sovereign God! (To be continued.)