Examples of Pride in the Bible

Pride is a negative character trait and a temptation that every one of us is prone to. God is clear that He is strongly against this trait, and He included many good examples of pride in the Bible for us to learn from.

What is Pride in the Bible?

Pride is an attitude of self-sufficiency, not seeking God, a haughty spirit, and the opposite of humility.  It causes us to consider ourselves higher, wiser and/or better than we do others, sometimes even God. 

Pride is a sin. 

A few words used for describing pride in the Scriptures are arrogant, insolent, presumptuous, stubborn, willful, scoffer, mocker and fool.

The types of pride in the Bible range from subtle to obvious, and everything in between. God makes it very clear that He hates and will not tolerate pride. He is opposed to the proud man because a prideful state of mind works in complete opposition to God. Sinful pride causes people to focus on themselves rather than the interests of others.

Satan was kicked out of heaven because he was prideful, thinking of himself as equal to God. When we have evil thoughts and pride in our hearts, we tend to make our own rules rather than walking in total obedience to God and Jesus Christ. 

We may think we know something God doesn’t know, or feel we know ourselves better than He knows us. We may decide some of His rules are not for us, or think we should make our own rules about certain things. Generally, pride is an absence of the fear of the Lord. This kind of pride is dangerous.

What Are Some Examples of Pride in the Bible?

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Pride is demonstrated throughout the Scriptures. Anywhere we find human beings, we will see pride. Since Scripture tells us story after story of people, we can find many lessons on selfish ambition and pride in the Bible. 

Builders of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)

At one time during the days of the Old Testament, there was only one language spoken everywhere. So, when people from various places settled in the same area, they decided to build a city to live in together. 

They decided that their building abilities were so great that they should build a giant tower, so they would become famous. They planned that the tower would be high enough to reach into the sky, maybe even to heaven. 

But God came to visit and quickly took care of their pridefulness by confusing their speech, giving them all different languages so they couldn’t communicate with each other. Then He scattered them throughout the earth. 

These people’s pride:

  • They were boastful about what they could accomplish
  • They thought their plan was better than what God had for them
  • They wanted to be famous, to make a name for themselves
  • They wanted to be as great as God and get themselves into heaven

What God did: 

  • Put an end to their plans to be as high and as mighty as He is
  • Confused their language so they could no longer understand each other or work closely together
  • Scattered them all over the earth

King Saul (1 Samuel 15: 3-35)

King Saul’s pride was his complete undoing as king of Israel. This particular example is one of many. 

In 1 Samuel 15:3, Samuel the priest told King Saul that the Lord gave him this command: He was to “attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys”. 

And when Saul went into this battle, he followed God’s directions…almost. The one person he spared was the Amalekite king, Agag.  He also kept the choicest animals of their herds. Actually, verse 9 says that he and his men only destroyed ”the worthless and unwanted things”. (1 Samuel 15:9 – CSB)

But the next morning, Samuel heard from God what had happened and he went to confront Saul. Saul set about making excuses, blaming the troops for the disobedience, and saying that he killed all the animals, only sparing some for a sacrifice.

Well, as you may know, a half truth is no truth at all, and Samuel was tired of his lies and excuses. He came right out and asked Saul why he had disobeyed the Lord.

Saul continued to lie and make excuses. But the priest Samuel didn’t back down, and broke the news to Saul that he would be dethroned.

Samuel said in verses 28-29, “The Lord has torn the kingship of Israel away from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you.” (this was David) 1 Samuel 15:28-29 – CSB)

In the end, King Saul admitted, “I have sinned. Please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel. Come back with me, so I can bow in worship to the Lord your God.” (1 Samuel 15:30 – CSB)

Saul’s pride:

  • He was blatantly disobedient to God, twisting God’s instructions to suit himself
  • He felt he was entitled to do what he pleased
  • He was greedy in keeping the best animals
  • He lied about what he did, making it seem less severe than it was, even when confronted with his wrongdoing
  • He made excuses for himself and blamed others for his rebellion
  • He was in many ways a people-pleaser, afraid of what people would think
  • In the end he didn’t acknowledge God as his own God, but told Samuel he wanted to “worship the Lord your God”

What God did: 

  • Eventually (in God’s own timing), dethroned Saul 
  • Gave the kingship to David, who God knew all along would make a better king for His people
  • Had the priest Samuel finish what Saul failed to do
  • Relieved Samuel from being Saul’s priestly advisor

Jonah (Jonah 1-4)

Jonah was a prophet who was given the command of the Lord to go and preach to the evil people in the city of Nineveh. Instead, he decided to run away because he didn’t think they deserved to know God or His grace.

He tried to outrun God and got on a ship headed (literally and figuratively) in the wrong direction. But due to the turn of events, he was thrown overboard, and ended up being swallowed by a giant fish. 

He then repented and God allowed the fish to vomit him up on shore and he went to Nineveh as instructed. The people actually repented and turned to the Lord. 

Jonah’s pride: 

  • Jonah felt himself entitled to God’s grace but thought the Ninevites didn’t deserve it. 
  • He thought he knew better than God and tried to control his situation
  • He resented being asked to serve in this capacity
  • He blatantly rebelled against God

What God did:

  • He caused a great storm 
  • He actually saved Jonah by providing the fish to swallow him and spit him out on land
  • He heard Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish and gave him another chance, sending him again to Nineveh
  • God relented from the disaster He was about to bring on evil Nineveh because of Jonah’s eventual obedience
  • He provided for, and counseled Jonah afterward, when Jonah was unhappy with the way it turned out (we don’t know if Jonah ever relented in the end)

More Examples Of Pride In The Bible

examples of pride in the bible

We can learn from every prideful person in the Bible, and there are many examples to teach us. Some others are:

  • Lucifer/the devil
  • Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden
  • The brothers of Joseph
  • Haman
  • Pontius Pilate and the Roman soldiers arrest of Christ Jesus
  • King Uzziah
  • Naaman
  • The Parable of the Pharisee
  • King Nebuchadnezzar
  • King Hezekiah
  • Annanias and Saphyra
  • Pharaoh
  • Simon the Magician
  • Saul, later the Apostle Paul
  • Goliath
  • Judas
  • King Herod
  • Many other unnamed examples given throughout Scripture

Consequences of Pride in the Bible

The Bible tells us that God hates pride. He considers pridefulness to be evil and wicked. 

Proverbs 16 says, “Everyone with a proud heart is detestable to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5 – CSB)

God gives consequences for evil. In fact, He says of Himself, “The Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished…” (Exodus 34:6b-7a – CSB)

The consequences are given by God and vary according to the individual and the circumstances because only God knows what is in our hearts. In Psalms 31, David says, “The Lord protects the loyal, but fully repays the arrogant.” (Psalms 31:23 – CSB)

Here are a few specific consequences of pride and arrogance in the Bible:

  • Destruction (Psalms 5:5-6, Proverbs 16:18, Jeremiah 49:16, Hosea 13:6-9, Obadiah 1:1-4)
  • Removal from a position of influence (1 Samuel 15:26)
  • Death (1 Samuel 25:39, Esther 7:10)
  • Humiliation, humbling (Esther 6:6-12, Isaiah 13:11, Daniel 4:28-37, Luke 18:9-14)
  • God’s face set against them (Psalm 34:16)
  • Falling to ruin, swept away by terrors (Psalm 73:18-19)
  • Rebuked and cursed by God (Psalm 119:21)
  • Calamity and catastrophe (Proverbs 6:15, Isaiah 28:14-18)
  • Disgrace (Proverbs 11:2)
  • Strife (Proverbs 13:10)
  • Lack of wisdom (Book of Proverbs 14:6)
  • Shattered beyond recovery (Proverbs 29:1)
  • Inability to rest or be satisfied (Habakkuk 2:5)
  • No reward in heaven (Matthew 6:1-2)
  • Judgment (Mark 12:38, Jude 1:14-16)
  • Revolting in God’s sight (Luke 16:14-15)
  • Corrupt minds, disorder, evil practices (Romans 1:28, James 3:16)
  • Gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3)
  • (Lucifer/Satan) thrown out of Heaven to spend eternal torment in Hell (Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:13-17, Revelation 20:10)

We can easily miss the signs of pride in ourselves and others, but God can see everything that is in our hearts infinitely better than we can. 

To find out what is deep in our own hearts and beliefs, we must turn to Him, asking Him to search, know, and lead us. David asked the Lord, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24 – CSB)

For further reference on the subject of pride, see Scriptures About Pride In The Bible

So, how can we be protected from the issue of pride? When we know how much God loves us (Ephesians 3:18 – CSB)), when we trust His faithfulness (Deuteronomy 7:9 – CSB), when we believe He is all-knowing and possesses all wisdom (Isaiah 55:8-9 – CSB)), and when we realize that His power is greater than any other (Jeremiah 10:12-13 – CSB) – when we surrender to Him and allow ourselves to be fully satisfied in Him and the eternal life He gives – we can then begin to depend fully on God, dissolving our pride like melting ice. 

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.” ― C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

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Meet the Author:

Kim and her husband love the country life in their secluded 200-year-old Pennsylvania farmhouse. Her mission at New Day Of Simplicity is to help other women learn to live simple, purposeful lives in order to serve and glorify the Lord in their current season.