V. 15: “So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.” If you are a leader, your problem is most likely pride in your position, power, and influence. If you are a brawler, your problem is most likely pride, thinking you are so tough and preying on the weak. If you are a reveler, your problem is most likely pride, thinking you are the life of the party and enthralled with how enthralled everyone is with you, and how popular you are. And why do you have to be humbled? Because you are facing life on false premises, false values, and false priorities. Pride skews your perspective, judgments, decisions, and lifestyle. So if you want to be God’s man, you have to deal with this and get it under control. If you can’t tame pride, you will fall over and over.
“But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice…” God doesn’t have the warping that comes through pride. But we struggle with it all the time. And we are knocked to the side by life’s problems. God isn’t. He is exalted by his justice. For us, there is very little that is fair in this life. Some people try to make life more fair, but it gets warped, because too often “justice” for us is mostly about what benefits “me”: pride. But God is holy and righteous—the only combination that creates true justice. Here is the antithesis of the pride of the previous verse: God “faces life” with true premises, true values, and true priorities. The Lord deserves glory.
v. 17: This verse sounds like a combination of “be sure your sins will find you out” and “what you have will be taken away from you and given to the one who has” and “the last will be first and the first last.” What you worked so hard to accumulate will just be taken away and given to someone else. We need to learn to work for what can’t be taken away.
V. 18: Instead, we work so hard for what is sin. Sigh. Sin is often a choice. People want it. They want to nurture it, OWN it. They make sure they bring it with them. They even sell it. Deone Drake has said, “Sin is thinking, doing, or being anything that demonstrates a dissatisfaction with God.” Woe to you.
V. 19: Woe to the scoffers also. Scoffers who refuse to acknowledge evidence, believing instead only what they want to believe. People settling in, where they see things a certain way; values, attitudes, and perspectives are all colored. What creates this is a combination of reasons and emotions, derived from life experiences warped by sin. It’s very difficult to change.
v. 20: Woe to those call evil good and good evil. Boy, does this sound like our country or what? Homosexuality is good; Chaz Bono, transsexual, on “Dancing with the Stars” is almost a hero. “Christianity is intolerant.” “Religion should be kept to oneself.”
All this warped thinking and behaving is not from a motive of evil or deliberate deceit, but because they see the world differently—so different, that it’s wrong. But no one deliberately believes things they know to be wrong, so how can they be so wrong and think they’re so right?
- Life experiences have led them to the wrong conclusions
- False teaching has deceived them and led them to wrong thinking
- They are spiritually blind
v. 21: Woe to those wise in their own eyes. Proverbs 3.7 says the same thing. Whoa. The wrong path, perspective, and spiritual blindness become so engrained they become convinced it’s true. This is both natural and understandable. People don’t hold to what they know to be false. They think they’re right. But not everyone is right. We have to approach knowledge as a journey, and with humility. When pride enters the picture, so does danger.
V. 22: Woe to those who are heroes at drinking. Frat parties, beer pong, and other drinking games—what’s the big deal? Where’s the problem with some fun? The problem is not with the drinking per se, but what and who the people value, and what people value being heroes in. Instead of heroes of righteousness, or war, or of advocating for the poor, they are heroes of drinking.
v. 23: Woe to those who acquit the guilty for a bribe. When you can’t trust in the courts to enforce rights and wrongs, society falls into disarray. The rich and powerful abuse their blessing and position, and society becomes immoral, abusive, and unjust. God expects us to represent him, but especially as leaders. This kind of behavior not only ruins society, but it causes people to disrespect God.