I love kids. One of the reasons I love kids is because they show us ourselves. They’re like little mirrors. Let me tell you what I mean. Kids have pretty much all of the same problems we have, but those problems are just a lot more obvious because they don’t know how to hide them yet. This is really clear when kids do things they’re not supposed to do.
Have you ever seen a kid touch something they’re not supposed to touch? They’ll look around to see if you’re looking. They don’t care if another kid is looking; they just don’t want adults or parents to see. Why do they do that, though? Because they know you’re in charge, and they don’t want you to find out because they know you’re the one they have to answer to.
Adults are the same way. Often we’re OK with doing things we’re not supposed to do, as long as the person we have to answer to doesn’t find out. You’re glad to speed until you see cops ahead. Maybe we’re glad to leave work early as long as our boss doesn’t find out. Maybe some of us cheat on tests as long as the professor doesn’t catch us. We don’t usually care if people know we’re doing something wrong, unless it’s the authority we have to answer to.
In 1 Samuel 2, Hannah prays in response to the birth of her son Samuel. And in this prayer, she warns others not to commit one particular sin, because their Judge is watching. Turn with me to 1 Samuel chapter 2, verse 3.
Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.
(1 Samuel 2:3)
In this text, Hannah warns us against prideful speech, because God will find out and He’ll hold us accountable for it. That’s what I think the main point of this verse is: If you talk proudly, you’ll have to answer to God for it.
We may be tempted to think our prideful words don’t matter much. But if you think your prideful words don’t matter, I’m afraid for you. They should matter to you, because they matter to God, and He’s the One you have to answer to. We won’t finally answer to our parents, or our friends, or our pastors, but to God.
With that in mind, I want to ask a few questions to understand the text better.
Question 1: What Does It Mean To Talk Proudly?
It means to use your words to exalt yourself.
Now typically we would think of self-exalting words as just simply bragging about how amazing we are, but there are many ways to talk proudly. And I think one of the ways that Hannah has in mind is what we see in chapter 1.
Hannah was the wife of a man named Elkanah. She wasn’t his only wife though. He had one more wife whose name was Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was barren. And Peninnah would basically taunt Hannah about it. And because of her barrenness and this taunting Hannah was grieved and she would weep.
I think Peninnah is an example of the prideful speech Hannah warns us against. Peninnah wasn’t just pointing out the fact that she had children. She wasn’t just trying to remind Hannah of the facts. She was taunting her, boasting over her, tormenting her.
That just sounds like she’s being mean. How is it talking proudly? Well it seems like Peninnah was using this as a way to assert herself over Hannah. It seems like she was assuming that somehow her bearing of children made her better than Hannah, which wasn’t true. Scripture clearly says that children are a gift from the Lord. Peninnah was talking proudly, and she would have to answer to God for it.
Ways We Talk Proudly
Whether we recognize it or not, we all talk proudly and speak with arrogance in a variety of ways:
1. One obvious way is bragging about our accomplishments. Sometimes we can’t wait to tell others about what we have and what we’ve accomplished. But we’re not praising God for it; the goal is making ourselves look better. I’ve caught myself doing this on many occasions. Maybe running into an old friend and they ask me what I’ve been doing. I could say rapping, but I’d rather point to awards or other achievements.
2. Or how about the things we say about others? Sometimes we slander others. We want to paint them in a bad light, so we’ll look good. Maybe at work we point out that a particular co-worker is pretty lazy, so that people will notice the difference between you two. Or maybe instead of being gracious with others, we’re self-righteous. We stand as a judge over them, because it makes us feel better about our spiritual accomplishments. That is prideful speech.
3. Or sometimes even when we say good things. Maybe it’s a testimony on a Sunday night. It could be a gripping story about God’s work in a friend’s life, but your motives could be your glory instead of God’s. Or letting someone know you’ve been praying for them. Or teaching a Sunday School class. Even good things can be proud speech if your goal is exalting yourself.
Some of these examples are more obvious than others. So how do you know if it is? What separates proud speech from stating facts? Talking proudly is when you don’t acknowledge God as the One who’s sovereign and deserving of glory, in your heart or the words themselves. And when we do that, we take glory that belongs to God.
Your words may acknowledge God, but what about your heart? Other people may not be able to tell the difference, but Hannah reminds us that the Lord is a God who knows. And if we use our words to exalt ourselves, we’ll have to answer to Him for it.
In the text Hannah tells us not to talk proudly, and then she tells us why: because the Lord is a God who knows and weighs deeds.
Question 2: Why Do We Have to Answer to God for Proud Speech?
Because it’s an attack on His glory.
If only one of those last two phrases was true, it would change a lot. If God knew, but wasn’t the judge, or if God was the judge but didn’t know. But the perfectly just Judge is also the all-knowing God. Not only will God find out, He’s listening. God is at all times tuned in to every conversation that’s happening. Almost like He has an infinite amount of security cameras placed in every square foot of the earth. He knows. And if we attack His glory with proud speech, He will know.
If I was to go into your bank account, and take money and apply it to my account, is that stealing? Of course it is. I’m taking something that belongs to you, and applying it to myself. I cannot give myself any of your money without taking it from you. And it’s wrong because it belongs to you.
When human beings try to give themselves glory, they rob God of His. You cannot ascribe to yourself praise and glory, without stealing from God. Pride is an attack on God’s glory. Why? Because an overestimation of self comes from an underestimation of God. Let me say that again: an overestimation of self comes from an underestimation of God. And as we see in 1 Samuel 1, this underestimation of God, also leads to an underestimation of others. So thinking too highly of ourselves comes from thinking too lowly of God, and leads to thinking too lowly of others.
Peninnah was mistaken. She overestimated herself by putting herself on the Sovereign throne, as if she opened her own womb. And we’re often guilty of the same. We think we’re the ones who should get credit for that promotion, or those well-behaved children, or our financial situation. Yes, God will reward our hard work, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. God’s will is the real deciding factor in every situation. What matters finally is not our strength, our wisdom, or even our faithfulness.
So pride is wrong. All of us have some pride in our hearts that we must fight. When you think in your heart that you deserve glory, that itself is a sin. But prideful speech is taking it to another level. How could we, as sinful human beings, have the audacity, not only to think we’re worthy of God’s glory, but to actually present it that way to others? To try to convince others to give us the glory that belongs to God alone. Talking proudly is like not only robbing someone, but telling everyone about it and encouraging them to do the same.
The only thing is, God doesn’t need video footage to know you’re guilty. God will not tolerate human beings trying to rob Him of His glory and encouraging others to do the same. Which is why Hannah says we shouldn’t do it.
Prideful speech is picking a fight with God, which is why it’s inconsistent with the life of a believer. As we heard this morning, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
If we’re not in Christ, our proud words, will be yet another reason for God to punish us. Our evil deeds will continue to help the overwhelming case against us. If you’re not in Christ, there is nothing more terrifying than an all-knowing Judge. So if you’re here tonight and you don’t Jesus, please get to know Him. Turn from your sin, and throw yourself on His mercy. He was incredibly humble—humble enough to die so that sinners like you and me can live. He rose from the grave with all power, and calls men to follow Him. We’d love to talk to you more about that afterwards.
But as Christians, what does it mean for our deeds to be weighed? Every believer in this room will have to answer to God for every proud word they speak, but our judgment will be different. Christ has already taken our sins on the cross. But this warning should still impact the way we live. When we stand before God, our deeds will either testify to the fact that we’ve trusted in Christ or that we were too proud to trust in Christ alone.
Also, we want to please the Father. Of course He’s pleased with us in Christ, but we want Him to be pleased with our good works that come out of faith in Christ. We want to please our loving God.
We should not allow arrogant words to come from our mouths. And though we will have to answer to God for our proud speech, we should praise God that our sins are covered in Christ.
So if we want God to be glorified by our speech, how do we fight this arrogant talk?
Question 3: How Do We Fight Proud Speech?
We do it by rejoicing in God.
We should watch our speech, but that’s not enough. It’s like telling someone with a cold the solution is just to hold their sneeze in. No, the sickness is what needs to be attacked.
The proud heart rejoices in itself. But the humble heart rejoices in God. Look at the first words of Hannah’s prayer in verse 1: “My heart rejoices in the Lord.” Hannah shows us the proper response to the Lord’s blessing. Not just rejoicing in what the Lord has given, but in the Giver Himself. Our response could be proud, but instead it should produce humility in us, because we are receiving a gift from God
God gives and takes away. God distributes and withholds. But He does it all for our good and His glory. We falter when we begin to depend on those things too much. Rejoicing in God kills both pride and hopelessness.
How do you rejoice in God? Do what it takes to remind yourself who’s behind everything. Praise God when you receive that check. This is why we thank God before our food. Remembering that it’s arrogant to assume our plans will always go forth. Say Lord willing. Give glory to God when others congratulate you on your accomplishments. Don’t for a minute allow your heart to take credit. Watch your prideful speech. Find the roots of pride in your heart.
Every single one of us has been given an amazing opportunity with each word we speak. We get to use our words to glorify the God who made us. We get to use our words to help others see God for the glorious Lord that He is.
So my encouragement is not to use your words to exalt yourself. Instead, use them to do what you were created to do—give glory to God. It all belongs to Him anyway.