Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
bald eagle is alighting on a mountain top, AI-generated image (public domain)
The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.
— Obadiah 1:3-4
With just one chapter and twenty-one verses, the book of Obadiah is the shortest in the Hebrew bible. It concerns the punishment of Edom, a sister state to Judah and Israel, supposedly founded by the descendants of Jacob's brother, Esau. The Edomites are accused of helping Israel's enemies, putting their own vain interests above the defence of their own kinsfolk. Obadiah suggests that their self-exaltation comes from the high place in which they dwell, the mountain air having gone to their heads.
We are all susceptible to self-exaltation. When things go well for us, when we are on a roll, when luck continuously crosses our path, it is easy to think it is because of ourselves, our own worth, our own godliness even. We become self-centered and narrow-visioned, seeing only the next achievement, and wallowing in our successes. Pride comes before a fall, of course, and the Bible is full of stories of individuals and whole nations falling from such self-exaltation. Reading Obadiah we are reminded of the folly of hubris, and of the need to live a more humble, kinder, thoughtful life if we are to continue in God's grace. There is only One to exalt, One to hold high. While there is something wonderful in personal moments of success, achievement and even exaltation, we'd do well to let them be just moments, and not a whole lifestyle. The higher the climb, the greater the fall.