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The Course and Consequence of Pride

When we walk through the passage of 1 Kings 20:1-30, we notice that in the attitude and action of the King of Syria we have an illustration of the course and consequence of pride:

1. The demand of pride (verses 1-6). Pride is always overreaching in its claims, selfish in its requests, and cruel in its commands.

Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and closed in on Samaria and fought against it. And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your best wives and children also are mine.'” And the king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” The messengers came again and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘I sent to you, saying, “Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children.” Nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants and lay hands on whatever pleases you and take it away.'”
(1 Kings 20:1-6 )

2. The boast of pride (verse 10). Pride never uses a small i, but always the capital I. What a lot of “I” there was in the Pharisee’s prayer!

Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.”
(1 Kings 20:10)

3. The recklessness of pride (verse 12). Pride ever seeks to “enjoy itself,” although danger may be near. Nero played his fiddle while Rome was burning.

When Ben-hadad heard this message as he was drinking with the kings in the booths, he said to his men, “Take your positions.” And they took their positions against the city.
(1 Kings 20:12)

4. The enemy of pride (verses 13-15). God hates pride; it is an abomination to Him.

And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the LORD, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” And Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says the LORD, By the servants of the governors of the districts.” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.” Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were 232. And after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.
(1 Kings 20:13-15)

5. The pastime of pride (verse 16). Ben-hadad was drinking when he should have been on the alert. What an illustration of those who are drunken with self-conceit and arrogance. “This one thing I do,” is their cry: “I seek to find satisfaction in what the world offers.”

And they went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him.
(1 Kings 20:16)

6. The assumption of pride (verse 18). The King of Syria took it for granted that he would take captive those who had come out from Israel; so the sinner thinks his plans will be sure to succeed, till they are exploded; then he discovers his folly.

He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive. Or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”
(1 Kings 20:18)

7. The overthrow of pride (verses 19-21). Destruction is the result of pride (Proverbs 16:18). Pride is the forerunner of destruction. It was so in the case of Korah, when he in his pride coveted the priesthood (Numbers 16).

So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts and the army that followed them. And each struck down his man. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. And the king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and struck the Syrians with a great blow.
(1 Kings 20:19-21)

8. The persistence of pride (verses 22-27). Although defeated, Ben-hadad returns to his former course. How like one, who, although he has had to smart for his action, still seeks to follow his former course of conduct.

Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do, for in the spring the king of Syria will come up against you.” And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in their places, and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so. In the spring, Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. And the people of Israel were mustered and were provisioned and went against them. The people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country.
(1 Kings 20:22-27)

9. The punishment of pride (verses 27-30). The sinner can no more escape the punishment that his sin deserves, than the moth can escape being burnt by coming in contact with the lighted candle.

And the people of Israel were mustered and were provisioned and went against them. The people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country. And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.'” And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined. And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. And the rest fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell upon 27,000 men who were left. Ben-hadad also fled and entered an inner chamber in the city.
(1 Kings 20:27-30)

This has been adapted from the commentaries of F.E. Marsh, coming soon to the Blue Letter Bible.