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Before honor comes humility
Proverbs 15:33 We will be humbled before we are honored by God or our peers
Photo illustration © 2023, Steven Sande
“The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.”
Proverbs 15:33 NASB1995
Looking through Solomon’s Proverbs, it’s unsurprising that he placed importance on two topics — wisdom and humility. King Solomon was renowned for his wisdom early on in his reign, although he made some very serious errors of judgement later in his life; marrying pagan women and worshipping their gods, among other things. Solomon started well, but ended badly…
The first part of the verse is a common theme and a foundation of Proverbs — wisdom begins in the fear (deep, abiding respect) of the Lord, and true wisdom flows from that fear. When we see God as what He really is — the creator of everything, an infinite being with no beginning or end, omniscient, omnipotent — and recognize how insignificant we are by comparison, it doesn’t take much to be humble!
The second part of the verse is something many of us have learned through life experiences. There are a number of sayings that seem to be anchored in the meaning of “before honor is humility”, for example “the darkest hour is just before the dawn” or “the lower the ebb, the higher the tide”. The meaning is the same — we will be humbled before we are honored by God or our peers.
I’ll end this rather short devotional today with a few quotes:
“Humility; whereby men submit to God, and yield to men, which gains them love and respect; whereas pride procures them hatred and contempt from God and men.”1
“Paradoxically, the one who grants himself no glory before the glorious God in the end is crowned with the glory and wealth that give him social esteem.”2
Humility is perhaps one of the most difficult attributes for humans to gain and to appreciate. By respecting God and living a godly life, we gain wisdom, but it’s necessary to humble ourselves to gain that wisdom. Through humility we acknowledge our reliance on God for wisdom, and we learn to humbly obey the Lord’s instructions. We cannot begin by being arrogant and expect to earn honor.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Lord, every day I pray that I gain more wisdom from Your Word. By acknowledging that I don’t know everything and placing my reliance in You, I humble myself and work each day to obey Your instruction. Remind me to become and remain humble so that I may earn the ultimate honor of an eternity with You. AMEN.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org.
Poole, Matthew "A Commentary on the Holy Bible" Volume 2 (Psalms-Malachi) (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968)
Waltke, Bruce K. "The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31" (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2005)