Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Opposite of Humility


Amos 9:7–10 (ESV)

            “Are you not like the Cushites to me,
                        O people of Israel?” declares the LORD.
            “Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,
                        and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?
            Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom,
                        and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground,
                        except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,”
                                                            declares the LORD.

            “For behold, I will command,
                        and shake the house of Israel among all the nations
            as one shakes with a sieve,
                        but no pebble shall fall to the earth.
            All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,
                        who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’

This passage begins by saying that Israel is just like other nations. Cush is very far away; it’s a colloquialism for the ends of the earth. Israel is far from God. Next a parallel is drawn between God delivering Israel from Egypt and His delivering two pagan nations from their oppressors. “Don’t think you’re so special, Israel.”

Then it describes the punishment in absolute terms. The Hebrew word translated as “destroy” (שׁמד “sha-mahd”) literally means exterminate or annihilate. But the passage quickly clarifies this to say that it doesn’t apply to the house of Jacob (the Israeli people). The kingdom, not the people, will be wiped out.

But don’t miss that the thing that distinguishes the ones who will die by the sword is confidence—those who say, “The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.”

Overconfidence is the opposite of humility. Overconfidence about one’s relationship with God is insane.

Few things are as poisonous to spiritual health.

How can we reconcile this with what John says about knowing that we have eternal life?

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. — 1 John 5:13 (ESV)

Is this not overconfidence in a can?

No, because confidence isn’t overconfidence. Also, as we’ll soon see as we walk through 1 John, the gospel reinforces humility instead of erasing it.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. — 1 John 1:8 (ESV)

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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