To be proud is defined as, ‘having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, or superiority.’ An inflated view of oneself or one’s abilities is the manifestation of pride. When we fail to adequately understand our own abilities or importance, we manifest our improper belief that we are more than we are and our pride is put on display.
However, God has no illusions about Himself, nor is He self-deceived. God’s opinion of Himself is perfect. It is exactly what it ought to be. This is why God isn’t proud. He couldn’t possibly think too highly of Himself, for there is no one more deserving than Himself! God understands Himself perfectly and therefore, in His thinking and in His actions, He displays perfect humility.
And God IS humble! The God who created us and is worthy of all glory, who does all things for His glory, who we exist to glorify, is humble. II Samuel 7 is an amazing chapter where God formally lays out His covenant with His servant David, but the setting of this chapter and the catalyst for the covenant are revealed in an unexpected way.
In II Samuel 7, there is finally peace within the land of Israel. God has granted David rest from his enemies and King David is enjoying peace in the land. However, this rest provides David with time to think as well and the absurdity of his situation has begun to seep in. Verse 2 reveals David’s epiphany, it says, ‘the king [David] said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.”‘
After spending some time amidst his palatial furnishings and with some time to think away from the chaos of the battlefield, David notices the disparity between his kingly quarters and THE King’s quarters (the tabernacle). David intends to rectify the situation and his wheels begin turning as he plans to build God a permanent place to dwell in the land.
I love that this is David’s plan – it’s a good plan (even Nathan thought so, verse 3). It’s sweet and displays David’s deep love for God. He knows that God is worthy of better and he wants to give Him better. He’s in a position to serve and has the means and ability to complete the task. This is exactly the type of worshipful attitude that God desires from His people.
But God just had to be smiling when He spoke in verse 5. What a joy to see David’s heart of worship! How adorably cute it must have been to witness David’s genuine, yet pitiful plan to fix the “problem”. Like a loving parent responding to their child’s “assistance” in completing a task (the child, no doubt, having created much more work for the parent along the way), God responds to David, ‘Would you build me a house to dwell in?’ It’s such a sweet and yet ludicrous idea…was David really going to attempt to build the almighty God a place to live?
God continues in verses 6 and 7 and in the process highlights His humility. ‘I [God] have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built for me a house of cedar?”‘ David knew God deserved better…that’s why he wanted to build Him a house. But God, because He desired to set Israel apart for Himself, had humbled Himself. For hundreds of years, the Almighty, All-Powerful God dwelt in a tent in order to lead His people. God humbled Himself for Israel’s sake.
Colossians 1:15 states that ‘He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God…’ Hebrews 1:3 is even more emphatic in stating, ‘He [Christ] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…’ Christ’s humility is described and often talked about from Philippians 2:5-8, ‘Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’ Christ’s humility is the manifestation of the Father’s humility. The humility of the Son illustrates, highlights, displays, and radiates the humility of the Father. Christ is humble because God is humble. Christ humbled Himself because God humbled Himself. God, repeatedly in history, has displayed His humility so that He’d be able to draw near to His people for the purpose of setting them apart to Himself.
I love where II Samuel ends up. I love that God turns the tables on David in verse 11 when He declares, ‘Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.’ I love that God plans to fulfill His covenant with David: even after he dies (v.12,13), in triumphing over sin (v.14,15), and for all of time (v.16). God’s covenant re-established the fact that He would remain close to His people, that He would humbly performing the acts that were necessary in order to fulfill the promises He’d made.
Even more incredible about God’s humility is that it leads us to His glory. When confronted with our insignificance, when it’s highlighted against the backdrop of God’s humility in caring for us anyway, there is no response other than to worship Him. Because God is glorious, He is humble when He displays His glory. God is humble, has an accurate view of Himself and that view manifests His glory. For God, being humble and being glorious are one and the same. How can you see God’s humility and do anything but sit with David and worship as he does in verses 18-22:‘Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know our servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”‘