Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) escapes through a sewer after 20 years of captivity, quietly undermining the hubris of the prison authorities. The Shawshank Redemption, 1994.

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.
2 Samuel 5:6-7

The NIV translates the words of the Jebusites here as, "You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off." which makes it much clearer than the ambiguous KJV wording. The Jebusites, dwellers of the last Canaanite stronghold, the hill-city of Jerusalem, are so confident they cannot be conquered that they mock David and his men, offering their feeblest citizens as defence. David does not attack by force, but by stealth. He has volunteers climb into the city through the sewage pipes and unlock the gates from the inside.1

This is less a story of David's cleverness though, and more a story about the human folly of hubris.2 Over-confidence leading to cynical, mocking behaviour is characteristic of the privileged classes today, showing up in politics, business and even religion. Church leaders who abuse their parishioners believe themselves to be untouchable—indeed the very system itself believes that, which is why any hint of it must be covered up. Churches and Banks: too big to fail. Hubris permeates our whole society, and terrible decisions are made with arrogance as their bedrock. Still, we must remember that the fall of Rome came about through hubris, as did the falls of Imperial Russia, Colonial Britain, indeed all world powers that in turn become obsolete. The fall of the USA is likewise inevitable, for the same reason. So it works for a while does hubris, but it's never a long-term strategy for survival, as the Jebusites quickly discovered.

On a personal level, which of course is where hubris begins, I can stay watchful of my own arrogance, my over-confidence and do my best on a daily basis to stay right-sized. The prophet Micah offers us the antidote to hubris: And what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? 3

1 2 Samuel 5:8
2 The term hubris derives from the name of the greek goddess Hybris, the personified spirit insolence, reckless pride and arrogance. Her Roman name, Petulantia, is the root of the word petulance, an outward form of hubris.
3 Micah, 6:8