Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
For centuries, Western society has benefited from the widespread influence of the Christian faith. While the history of the West is filled with examples of human depravity, where there has been a consistent Christian presence it has, in many ways and at many times, stayed the hand of evil. Most of us have not had to experience what a society looks like when it completely rejects and forgets God.
The Scriptures, however, do give us a grim picture of what happens when people have convinced themselves that there is no God. It is a picture of a rejection of humility, where “the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul” and rejects God in pride (Psalm 10:3-4). Humility is where the knowledge of God begins; therefore, those who reject God reject humility too.
Not only do such proud people reject God; they also revile Him, cursing and renouncing Him (Psalm 10:3). It is often prosperity that leads people to curse God. Their lives are going so well that they believe nothing can touch them and they will give no account to their Maker. Their prosperity gives them a false sense of security. They think they can live as they like, that “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it”
(v 11), and that there will be no repercussions for their behavior. With no accountability for how people live, there is no need for the powerful to serve or the strong to be gentle: we can treat others however we please, and so the godless man “sits in ambush … he murders the innocent … he lurks that he may seize the poor” (v 8-9).
It is with good reason, then, that the psalmist says, “Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.” When we reject and revile God, we foolishly think we are secure, which convinces us that it’s acceptable for us to mistreat others.
It is tempting to think that passages like this one only describe other people. But we should not be too quick to look away from ourselves. Are there ways we have rejected humility, believing ourselves to be sufficient without God? Have we let our prosperity numb us to our neediness and accountability before God? Has our treatment of those around us been marked by self-interest and arrogance instead of love and service? We may confess to have faith in God, but perhaps there are areas of our lives that require repentance.
The picture of man “in his pomp yet without understanding” is indeed a bleak one—both in this life and at its end. So praise God that this is not the whole picture. If you understand that we have a Creator to whom we are valuable and accountable, and that that Creator has ransomed your soul and will receive you into eternal life (Psalm 49:15), then the pomp of this world will assume its proper place, and in Jesus Christ you will enjoy purpose, hope, forgiveness, and pleasures forevermore.
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.