Pompous and Pathetic

by Joseph Franks

I must be a pompous, haughty, proud, lofty, lifted up, foolish, and pathetic person, and the Lord must be trying to get my attention. For in today’s scripture reading, as I am following M’Cheyne’s Bible Reading Plan, three paragraphs from three separate texts seem to be communicating the same message.

First, from Psalm 49:

Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish. This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself— his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.     (Psalm 49:12-20)

Here, the pompous man is described. He thinks he is “all that,” but in reality he is just another brute beast that perishes. Men boast about him; he boasts about himself; but God is not impressed with this person. He knows he is rich; he knows he is prosperous; the glory of his house is increased; he considers himself blessed, but in the end he finds himself dead and accursed. Even during this life, he struggles to keep the show going. But it is a lost cause, for like all men, he diminishes, decays, and dies. Then, tragically for this man, eternal destruction awaits. In the end, he is not like the truly blessed of God who humbled themselves and will find their souls and bodies ransomed from the grave.

The next text I read was Isaiah 2:

The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low; against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; against all the lofty mountains, and against all the uplifted hills; against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. And the idols shall utterly pass away. And people shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?     (Isaiah 2:11-22)

In this second passage of scripture, the haughty man is addressed. For this fellow, a day of humbling has been ordained, for the Lord will bring low all who will not humble themselves. In the end, this proud fool and all which he values will be destroyed. Ultimately, God will be noted while men and their idols are brought to nothing. It has been determined, the Lord alone will be exalted.

Then there was the third passage of scripture:

Numbers 12:3     Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.

Upon reading this text, my thoughts turned to Pharaoh and Moses. Pharaoh was the most powerful man on the planet. Materialism and hedonism was his daily lot. He boasted in himself, and all his people sang his praises as they worshiped him as a god. However, in the end, though the pompous Pharaoh had it all, he lost it all. He was the haughty and proud man who refused to bow the knee, and now for eternity his knees are broken. His earthly end was pathetic; so too is his eternal existence.

In contrast, there was Moses. Though being a child of Pharaoh and heir to the benefits of the Egyptian court, he bowed his knee to Yahweh and became God’s servant. And as he grew in godly character, he proved to be a humble man. Even as his earthly ministry thrived and he accomplished great things for God and his neighbors, he proved to be a humble man. And then, as Moses proved to be the most powerful man on the planet, he continued to master of meekness. According to God’s own review, Moses was the meekest man on the planet. And gloriously, when his days of earthly toil and ministry were completed, God took him home to reign with him on high until the New Heavens and New Earth are created. In the end, the meek Moses had it all, left it all, and received it all back. Because he was not pompous, his end was not pathetic.

Therefore friends, shouldn’t we humble ourselves before the Lord right now? Would we continue to be pompous and pathetic? Must we worship ourselves and encourage the worship of us by others? Would we continue to infuriate our God by ignoring him and elevating our preferred self-serving idols? Can’t we look at scripture and see how the mighty have fallen? (i.e. Pharaoh, Haman, Herod)  Can’t we look at history and see how the mighty have fallen? (i.e. Adolf Hitler, Howard Hughes)  Can’t we look about us and see the many pompous individuals slowly becoming pathetic; train wrecks happening in our day. (i.e. Bruce Jenner, Tiger Woods, Bernie Madoff, Joan Rivers)  Friends, do we really think we will scorn the Lord and be successful forever? Have we forgotten the Day of the Lord is coming? What will it take for us to “stop regarding man?” What will it take for us to stop regarding ourselves? When will will cease being pompous and pathetic? Wouldn’t we rather end like David than like Saul? Wouldn’t we rather be exalted like Moses than humiliated like Pharaoh? Today, right now, let us bow the knee and stop our insanity. Let us not focus on ourselves. Let us not boast in our skills, our things, and our accomplishments. Instead, let us bend our knees, bow our heads, and sacrifice ourselves afresh to Christ Jesus. Let us humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and in the end, he will lift us up. Such is the blessed inheritance of all who repent of being pompous and wish not to be pathetic.

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