Humility vs. Humiliation – 1 Kings 14

Rehoboam was on his way to some serious judgement for his role in leading the Southern Kingdom of Judah away from God.  Under his leadership, the nation was moving away from God’s temple and covenant and was taking up the same demonic “religious” practices that the Northern Kingdom was doing under Jeroboam and that the previous inhabitants of the land had followed.

Judah was supposed to be the remnant of Israel that would hold onto the worship of God and the regal line of David even as the Northern Kingdom was turning away.  The temple in Jerusalem and its ark of the covenant contained the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  It was to be the center of worship, given to man as a gift from God, built by Solomon under the direction of his faithful father, David.  But all this was being thrown out the window by Judah and its king.  In its place, the people worshiped other gods and idols in ceremonies built around carousing, drunkenness and infidelity. 

22 Judah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than those who were before them had done. 23 They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 24 There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 1 Kings 14:22-24 NIV

God began to turn up the heat on Rehoboam by sending in the king of Egypt to raid many of his valuables. 

25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. 26 He carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. 1 Kings 14:25-26 NIV

As a result, Rehoboam’s eyes were opened to the foolishness of his ways, and he humbled himself before the Lord.

12 Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah.  2 Chronicles 12:12 NIV

As Rehoboam humbled himself before God, His anger turned away from him and from Judah.  This saved them all from further judgement. 

What is humility?  Is it the same thing as being humiliated, such as when we are being laughed at by others because of some embarrassing situation?

No, it is not.  Humility is an extremely valuable gift from God and is essential to have whenever we have done wrong or are headed down the wrong path, and need to be restored in our relationship with Him.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes humility as a freedom from pride or arrogance.  It is a realization that we are no better or worse than those around us, and that we, like they, are very much dependent upon God and His mercies.  We realize that when we pridefully reject God and choose to worship other things, we are ultimately headed for a disaster of our own making.  And when we are also leading others astray with our ways, we may soon find ourselves on the other side of God’s favor and in serious danger of judgement:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.  Matthew 18:1-6 ESV

Many of us have spent portions of our lives far away from the ways of God.  But in His great love for us, He uses difficult circumstances in our lives to get our attention and to draw us back to Him.  When we are willing to humble ourselves enough to do so, He will receive us with open arms and pour out uncountable blessings and favor upon us in love.

Reflection

The evil one continues to lure people away from God using a counterfeit “church”.  This church appeals to the natural man and woman.  It throws off all the restrictions and conventions imposed on them by God’s covenant and lets each one do what is right in their own eyes.  This counterfeit church provides everything they seek.  Fellowship and companionship (affairs), worship leaders (bartenders and drug dealers), laughter and “fun”.  But over time, the good times begin to fade, and negative consequences begin to pile up.  Troubles, despair, and fear fill our hearts, and the game is just not fun anymore.  It has become an unbreakable bad habit rather than a joyful experience.

The greatest gift in life is enjoying the presence of a loving and caring God within a faithful relationship with our families.  The counterfeit church does everything in its power to destroy and deny us this gift.

But if we are still living and breathing, it is not too late to turn back to a good life. 

Like Rehoboam, God may turn up the heat a bit to encourage us to return to Him.  And like Rehoboam, we can humble ourselves before God and run back to Him, no matter how deep the pit of despair in which we have placed ourselves. 

God regards us just as the Father regarded his son in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.  The son came to his senses after experiencing the consequences of living an immoral life. He ran back to his Father, who unexpectedly received him back with gladness and joy.  God does exactly the same thing with us if we are willing to humble ourselves and return to Him.

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