Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16v18
‘I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.” (Percy Shelley)
I think we do well to be reminded often of this words that perfectly epitomise the danger and foolishness of pride. Ozymandias is another name for Pharaoh Ramses II. The poem was inspired by a statue found in the Egyptian desert. The point is obvious – no matter how great a man thinks he is he is eventually bound for a fall. It is the picture of rulers and empires and great world powers. For a brief moment in time it seems like they will never fall, but they always do.
We read this and nod in agreement, yet at the same time we can be guilty of the attitude that we so quickly condemn. Pride is an awful sin. I think we can argue that pride is the source of all sin. Pride drove Satan to try and displace God on His throne. Pride tricks us into thinking that we don’t need God or His plan of salvation. Pride drives us to get whatever we want to satisfy our desires. Pride causes us to worry when we are not in control and can’t trust God to sort it.
Let us beware of our own Ozymandias moments and remember the lesson of the statue in the desert.