Do not claim honor in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of great men; For it is better that it be said to you, "Come up here," Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen. Proverbs 25:6-7
There is a real danger of claiming honor in the presence of leaders and people of importance. The danger lies in whether they agree with your evaluation of yourself or not. That is why it is wise to embrace humility when in the presence of leaders and people of importance.
We are told not to claim honor in the presence of the king. This is because a king or a great man already has a standing of honor and respect. When we claim one - we may claim something they don't think we should have. We are also told to be careful about standing in the place of great men. Your mother may think you are awesome and great - but that's because she is your mom. Not everyone in the world carries a picture of you in their wallet. The wise man embraces humility and a low view of himself. He is not boastful and full of himself. Instead he chooses to let his works, his attitudes, and his value be evaluated by others who see what he does. He focuses on being a servant and being a person of excellence. Whatever happens as a result of his actions he lets others decide. This way, if he is lifted up and praised, it is due to the words of others and not due to the arrogant braggadocio of his own words.
This is what verse 7 presents to us. We are told that is it better for others to say to us that we should, "Come up here." What is being said is that we should leave the praise to others. When we receive it - others are elevating us. We simply receive their praise graciously and gratefully. There is one of the dangers of having too high a view of ourselves. We begin to believe our own press. We think we are awesome and that others really should be praising us and lifting us up. This places us in a very precarious place.
We read the final admonition to us in this verse and it is one we should think about very seriously. It's better for someone to say, "Come up here," than or us to be demoted in the presence of the prince. To be humbled is . . . well . . . a humbling experience. It is bad enough to be humbled in a one on one situation - but here we are talking about being humbled before a prince - and probably before his court as well. Arrogance has a very high cost - and that is seen nowhere more clearly than in this one who decided to assume a high place in the court of a king or a prince.
The Biblical example of this is found in the book of Esther. Haman was elevated to a high place in Ahasuerus' kingdom. He was given authority which quickly went to his head. Soon Haman decided that everyone should exalt him - like he was king. When Mordecai would not do this - he decided to abuse his authority not just to hurt Mordecai, but to destroy his people as well. This plot seemed like it would succeed, were it not for the prayers of God's people and God's intervention. This process wasn't hindered at all by Haman's exceedingly great pride and arrogance. His fall came when he was asked by the king what should be done for the man who the king desired to honor. Haman's pride was at its highest and worst point when the only thought that came to him was that he was the one whom the king spoke of when asking this. Little did he know that the one the king decided to honor was his rival. Suddenly all the arrogance and pride in destroying an entire people for a slight he felt to his pride was caving in upon him. He faced devastation as a series of events took place where he was no longer asked to, "Come up here," by the king. His was a careening fall from grace to his death by execution.
Arrogance does not pay in the end. It will bring about a devastating end for the one who embraces it. But the humble man who does not seek to advance himself will prosper. He will do so in one way or another. Either he will be advanced by the king - a turn of events he will receive with the same grace and attitude with which he served in the first place - or - he will continue to serve graciously because his goal was not honor and glory anyway. His goal was simply to serve those around him in the name of Jesus Christ. If he accomplishes that - he is happy.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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