Two Perfect Models of Humility

Posted on January 4, 2020


By David Ettinger

Notice Me!
In our society, individuals want to be seen, heard, and noticed. Social media makes this possible, and people who have absolutely nothing worth seeing, hearing, or taking notice of are spewing out self-images and opinions in a never-ending stream of egotism.

 In the sports world, athletes have expanded the borders of arrogance and narcissism. Practically every slightly-above-average play is followed by excessive celebrating, as players proclaim their unsurpassed greatness.

Indeed, the words of 2 Timothy 3:2 are coming ever closer to ghastly fruition: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud …”

Ain’t it the truth!

Blessed Humility
Our blustery and braggadocious culture has little regard for the humble. However, for at least two Bible personalities, humility was the norm, and they perfectly displayed it at times when to promote their own prowess would have reaped them fame and riches.

Before Pharaoh
The first towering Bible personality is Joseph. Sold into Egyptian slavery, the innocent 17 year old would spend the next 13 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Then one day he was summoned to Pharaoh’s palace. The monarch had two disturbing dreams, and none of his counselors could interpret them. However, while in prison, Joseph had gained a reputation as a dream-interpreter, and was brought to the king.

Pharaoh said to the Hebrew: “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it” (Genesis 41:15).

Here was Joseph’s opportunity! Incarcerated for 13 years, he now stood before the most powerful man on Earth – and held the upper hand because he knew he could give Pharaoh what he wanted. This was not only Joseph’s time to shine, but to proclaim himself as Egypt’s chief dream-interpreter, an exalted position in that society.

Joseph, however, recognized that his gift of dream-interpretation was not innate, but given him from a greater source. He replied: “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (v. 16). Rather than grab the glory for himself, Joseph immediately confessed his own inadequacy, selflessly giving all the glory to God.

Before Nebuchadnezzar
About 1,300 years later, another young Hebrew exile, Daniel, stood before another heathen “most powerful man on Earth” – Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also had a dream neither he nor his counselors could interpret. But just as with Joseph, word came to the monarch that there was a Hebrew youth who could give him what he wanted.

Daniel – about 18 years old at this time – was summoned to Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. The king asked him: “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” (Daniel 2:26). Oh the riches that would have been his had Daniel replied: “Yes, O King, I can tell you what you dreamed AND give you its interpretation. This is my specialty, and I’m the only man in the world who can do it!”

Daniel, however, renounced the passing pleasures of this world, his very soul devoted to glorifying His Creator. He replied: “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (verses 27-28).

The Lesson
Joseph and Daniel – two remarkably similar men – made no allowance for ego and exaltation. There was no desire to be seen, heard, and noticed. They existed to glorify their great and glorious God and denied anything good within themselves.

In today’s world of bloated arrogance and self-absorption, God asks His children – saved by the blood of Jesus Christ – to do the same. God is not looking for great Christian athletes, actors, singers, preachers, and teachers. Rather, He is asking us to clothe ourselves with humility and virtue, and to shun self-glory.

To do so, he gave us two perfect models of humility – Joseph and Daniel – who stood before the world’s mightiest men and showed them what children of the true God should be!

May we do the same as we strive to live humbly in this pretentious and self-exultant society.