Joy in the Absence of Pride (Psalm 21)
Reading: Psalm 21
O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! …His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him. For you make him most blessed forever, you make him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
(Psalm 21:1, 5-7)
We love the story of the self-made man. There’s something about the guy that manages to come from nothing and turn himself into something great. Perhaps we admire him for the strengths we don’t have—his talent, grit, and determination. Or more likely, it’s that we see a little bit of ourselves in him, or at least we think we can be like him. “If he can do it, so can I.”
But often this path leads to pride. Knowing that you’ve done everything yourself, that you’ve earned your money or fame or success by your own hand—it’s easy to be proud of that.
The humble man—the humble king, even—he recognizes that his success is not because of his hard work alone. But instead, he sees that his victories are not of his own doing, and not from his own hand. The Lord is in fact the one who has done it.
And instead of pride, this realization produces gratefulness, and with it joy. When you recognize that all you have is a gift from someone else, not something that you’ve earned but something you’ve received, you begin to see how much you are loved. And that love leads to a joyful response of thanksgiving.
There’s pride in being a self-made man. But there’s joy in being made by the Lord.
Father, be kind to us. We are so tempted by the narrative of the self-made man. It inflates our pride and makes us demanding. Correct us by showing us how all good things come from your hand. Make us grateful for all you do. And bring us the joy of your salvation.