Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. – 1 Samuel 2:3
Contemporary society is full of examples of what it looks like to celebrate self-assertiveness, human achievement, and a preoccupation with the “I/me/my” focus of our age that pays scant, if any, attention to God. He does not see, is the assumption; and if He does see, He does not mind. As believers we are not immune from any of this, for by nature our hearts love to assume that we ourselves are the fount of all knowledge—that we know best how we should think.
An inclination toward self-sufficiency and pride leads to some downplaying or even denying elements of biblical truth in their teaching and thinking. In the church today, God’s judgment and justice are surely such elements. They’re not easy to hear about or to proclaim, but they are central to the truth of the Bible. Paul writes that God will judge “the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:16). We cannot hide anything from Him, though we are tempted to believe we can. He knows our hearts, and by this Lord of knowledge “actions are weighed.”
In Daniel 5, we see how the Babylonian king Belshazzar discovered the folly of an arrogance that caused him to exalt himself above the God of knowledge. In the middle of a great feast celebrating himself, using drinking vessels that had been stolen from the Lord’s temple, a hand was sent from the presence of God, appearing on a wall and writing words of judgment—and Belshazzar was reduced to a shaking mass. Daniel interpreted the message for him, saying, “The Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven … And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored” (Daniel 5:21-23). In the end, Belshazzar had “been weighed in the balances and found wanting” (v 27), and “that very night” he “was killed” (v 30). He thought he knew best. He did not.
It is folly to imagine that God does not see, does not know, and will not act. He knows everything about us, and He weighs our actions. As Hannah knew and Belshazzar discovered too late, self-exaltation leads to judgment; but humility before the Lord is the way to life. So, be careful not to pridefully declare that you want things your own way in one area or another and therefore refuse Jesus’ kingship over that aspect of your life. Be careful not to live as though God does not know, and therefore refrain from humble repentance. Instead, humble yourself before the Lord, confessing to Him what He already knows and asking forgiveness for proud thoughts or selfish actions—and “he will exalt you” (James 4:10).