When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
Jesus’ parable in Luke 14:7-11 provides commentary for this proverb. The person, who out of pride, sits himself at the head of the table is disgraced when asked to take a lower seat, while the humble person ends up honored. It is interesting that the proverb connects humility with wisdom. It makes sense.
Pride, by definition, is foolishness. Caught up in promoting himself before the eyes of others, the person with pride cannot see things as they really are. He misjudges how he appears to others; he is blind to others’ virtues; he fails to comprehend what is of real value.
The humble person, on the other hand – because he is not caught up in himself – more clearly sees the real picture. If working with a team on a project, he is able to avail himself of the strengths of others, not worried about how he will be perceived. Sports provide a good example. The teams that do best are the teams that implement the best teamwork, each player unselfish, more concerned with the goal of winning than of having the best personal statistics. That is wisdom.
Humility allows us to focus on what matters. It clears our minds so as to focus with clarity on the task at hand and in discerning the truth. All the more sense, then, in understanding why humility is essential in grasping the gospel, the most profound truth of all for us.
13 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, ‘You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. 5 You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.’
6 Then the woman went to her husband and told him, ‘A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, “You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death.”’
8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.’
9 God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman hurried to tell her husband, ‘He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!’
11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, ‘Are you the man who talked to my wife?’
‘I am,’ he said.
12 So Manoah asked him, ‘When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy’s life and work?’
13 The angel of the Lord answered, ‘Your wife must do all that I have told her. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.’
15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, ‘We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.’
16 The angel of the Lord replied, ‘Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.’ (Manoah did not realise that it was the angel of the Lord.)
17 Then Manoah enquired of the angel of the Lord, ‘What is your name, so that we may honour you when your word comes true?’
18 He replied, ‘Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding’ 19 Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: 20 as the flame blazed up from the altar towards heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. 21 When the angel of the Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realised that it was the angel of the Lord.
22 ‘We are doomed to die!’ he said to his wife. ‘We have seen God!’
23 But his wife answered, ‘If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.’
24 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him, 25 and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
14 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, ‘I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.’
3 His father and mother replied, ‘Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?’
But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.’ 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)
5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring towards him. 6 The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.
8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. 9 He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.
10 Now his father went down to see the woman. And there Samson held a feast, as was customary for young men. 11 When the people saw him, they chose thirty men to be his companions.
12 ‘Let me tell you a riddle,’ Samson said to them. ‘If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. 13 If you can’t tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.’
‘Tell us your riddle,’ they said. ‘Let’s hear it.’
14 He replied,
‘Out of the eater, something to eat;
out of the strong, something sweet.’
For three days they could not give the answer.
15 On the fourth day, they said to Samson’s wife, ‘Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death. Did you invite us here to steal our property?’
16 Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him, sobbing, ‘You hate me! You don’t really love me. You’ve given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.’
‘I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,’ he replied, ‘so why should I explain it to you?’ 17 She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people.
18 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him,
‘What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?’
Samson said to them,
‘If you had not ploughed with my heifer,
you would not have solved my riddle.’
19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he returned to his father’s home. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to one of his companions who had attended him at the feast.