38 Examples of Pride in the Bible
Table of Contents
The biblical stories of Paul, Moses, and Jonah are great examples of verses that explain what pride is and what an unrepentant heart leads to (destruction or grace).
In the story of Moses, God gave Pharaoh multiple chances to repent and he didn’t take it. In contrast, God gave Paul the chance to repent and he humbled himself and changed his behavior. Paul choose to humble himself and receive God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Remember, without repentance and changed behavior a prideful person is ultimately choosing sin.
Related Article: 7 Causes Of Pride: How To Be More Humble!
Examples of Pride in the Bible
1. Defiant Pharaoh
The Pharaoh was COMMANDED by God to let the Israelites go and He refused to listen. He is a perfect example of a prideful man in the Bible because he refused to surrender despite God giving him chances to repent.
Pharaoh thought he was a God, literally. So, God showed the Pharaoh how weak He actually was. God did this by defeating His confidence in “man-made” powers (sorcery).
“So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.” Exodus 7:10-12
Pharaoh’s also wore headpieces with rearing cobras at this time. This represented the goddess Wadjet. When Moses’ staff swallowed the magicians, it was also a sign that Pharoah was not protected by this false god. God was purposeful in all the signs he demonstrated before Pharoah. Also, each plague combated the man-made gods at the time. For example:
- Hapi was the god of the Nile. God turned the Nile to blood showing his authority.
- Heqet was a frog god in charge of fertility and protection of homes + pregnant women. They would wear amulets of frogs for this purpose. God sent frogs in the 2nd plague. And in the last plague, he entered their homes and death came upon their first born children.
No magician, magical witch, or false god can compete with the all powerful God (The Great I AM). After 10 plagues and demonstrations that God was more powerful, Pharaoh still refused to be wrong, apologize, or admit that God was the ultimate power. The Pharaoh was an arrogant and wicked man. Despite this God still loved him. If he choose humility and humbled himself before God, he could have forfeited the consequences of pride.
Related Article: Did God Take Away Pharaoh’s Free Will?
2. Self-Righteous Saul
Saul (later called Paul) is another GREAT example of pride in the Bible. At first, he was so proud of being the perfect Jew. He thought he knew what God wanted and proceeded to kill heretics and blasphemers (Christians).
Paul’s selfish ambition and pride caused him to be blinded to God’s love and more focused on being right, being better than everyone, and the law. God hated Paul’s prideful attitude.
“Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
In trying to protect the purity of Judaism, Paul killed people that spread the simple message of forgiveness through Christ. Clearly, Paul had a very corrupt and twisted understanding of God’s love. So, God had to blind Paul physically, so that he could understand what true righteousness was. Godly discipline caused Paul to realize: “you will corrupt the word of God with your own THEOLOGY and OPINIONS if you have a superiority complex, self righteous attitude, and proud heart.”
By human standards, Paul had a right to feel He was better than everyone else. But, he realized the point of the Gospel isn’t for a few righteous and perfect people. God’s love isn’t reserved for those that are perfect; He has unrelenting love for sinners. This is good news for all that repent and follow Jesus including murderers, pedophiles, drunkards, and people that don’t deserve it. That’s why the Gospel is GOOD news.
Therefore Paul says this: “If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to righteousness in the law, faultless. But whatever was gain to me I count as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith.” Philippians 3:4-9
3. Entitled Jonah
Jonah was the prophet in the Old Testament that was ordained to rebuke the Ninevites of horrendous acts. God said to Jonah: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me” Jonah 1:2
When Jonah heard God’s request, He disobeyed and ran away. This led to him getting swallowed by a whale. “That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” Jonah 4:2
Jonah was not happy with God’s mercy towards them. He wanted the Ninevites to be punished. They were so wicked! How could they deserve forgiveness?
After escaping the Whale, God asked him to deliver the message again. Jonah obeyed God’s second request. Nineveh received the rebuke and the entire city repented including the King. “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” Jonah 3:10
Through this situation, God taught Jonah about his pride and entitled attitude. Jonah thought love was only intended for people that deserve it. He didn’t understand that God’s love is unconditional. When we think love is EARNED or DESERVED, we are entitled and self-righteous. It is because of grace that we can be righteous. We need God’s help to avoid sin. Since Jonah’s birth, God guarded him and gave him everything He needed to bring others into the love of God.
Jonah didn’t earn it. Jonah didn’t deserve his calling. Through the grace of God, Jonah was purposed. Then, he accepted the call.
God even used a plant to further teach him this lesson. He gave him a plant to provide shade. Then the plant withered and God sent heat to him. That’s when Jonah’s whole attitude changed. When the plant died and the heat scorched Jonah, He wanted to die. Jonah was ANGRY about the plant.
God replied to Jonah in his frustration about the plant: “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” Jonah 4:10-11 Wasn’t that selfish of Jonah to be more concerned with the plant than the Ninevites?
I would argue that He was angry with God for removing the plant. Isn’t it interesting how we can have different viewpoints and emotions towards God based on what he allows to happen to us? The truth is, no matter how “perfect” we are, when God allows trials it will show our true nature and reveal any impurities in our hearts.
This is so symbolic of how our behavior shifts based on the situations we are in. Imagine the alcoholic that was beaten and raped by his father. Or the woman that has a hard time submitting to her husband because every man has abused her. And think of the murderer and drug dealer that grew up in violence and doesn’t know how to escape the lifestyle. Ultimately, God understands each of our trials and He graciously gives us a path out of that darkness. But, He often uses people in better situations to be the light out of the darkness.
Jesus shows us how to do this. He was PERFECT and He made it his mission to help others live without sin and get closer to the father. Jesus didn’t turn his back on the people that denied, betrayed, laughed, distrusted, and abused him. None of the disciples or biblical characters deserved God’s love, they all fell short in some way. Nevertheless, Jesus loved them. This is what makes him so humble and so loving. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Related Article: Follow Me As I Follow Christ: 12 Bible Tips To Imitate Jesus!
4. Power Hungry Eve
In Genesis, we see that pride caused the ultimate fall of mankind into sin. Eve wanted to be at the same level as God and didn’t trust God’s authority. When Satan tempted Eve, it was easy for her to be led astray because she wasn’t submissive to God’s leadership and she lusted for power:
“God has said, ‘You must not eat of it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not surely die,” the serpent told her. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:3-5
Ultimately, you can’t submit to God if you don’t trust him. Similarly to Eve, when we distrust God our internal dialogue leads us to question biblical promises and God’s goodness. We may say: Can God really help me? If I don’t fix it who will? Maybe I should do XYZ just incase God doesn’t move in my life? I need to get the ball rolling or it wont happen. Is God really real? Why is God withholding things from me? Is God trying to punish me?
So, don’t be so quick to judge Eve. Our lack of submission to God isn’t revealed when everything is going well… No, it’s truly revealed when we are tempted and/or going through hard situations. Can you submit to God’s promise that He will help you when your husband or wife does something wrong? Will you choose to thank God when your entire body is slowly dying due to a disease?
Can you respect your boss when they are messing up? OR, will you listen to the enemy and take matters into your own hand?
In one scenario, I was guilty of doing this at work. With the help of my co-workers, I tried to fix a situation where my boss was clearly messing up. Even though my solution was right, God showed me I was manipulating the situation and conspiring against my boss behind the scenes! Oh my! The truth is, I didn’t trust God in that situation, so I didn’t submit to authority. And I didn’t trust my boss to hear my frustrations and help me resolve it. Unfortunately, we tend to conspire, control, manipulate and derail God’s plans for us when we don’t trust him with prayer and patience.
But, don’t forget there is redemption to this story. God didn’t point out my sin to make me feel bad. God made me aware that I was fighting for power, because I didn’t trust in his power. When I gave God the control, he was able to heal me of the pride.
In the beginning, Satan kidnapped humanity into sin and continued to whisper prideful thoughts in our ears to get us to sin. In the end, Jesus paid for our freedom from captivity of pride with his blood. Jesus defeated Satan by resisting pride and offering himself as a holy sacrifice for all sin. Jesus: “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 AND “For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
5. The Flesh Lusts for Power
While fasting In the desert, Satan tempted Jesus with power and lusts of the flesh. Then Satan asked him to prove himself, but Jesus didn’t do anything to demonstrate his power. Jesus’ restraint blows me away! It teaches me that a truly powerful Christian doesn’t have to defend their power. Jesus modeled this humility even before the desert. He never tried to LOOK like he was more powerful, wise, and special than everyone else.
He defeated our legalistic view of holiness with true humility. While the world believed holiness was perfection, he proved it started in the heart. He was obedient to His father, born in a manger, rode on a donkey, befriended sinners, healed on the sabbath, and was most likely ridiculed because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He came in a perfectly imperfect package to challenge the hypocritical Pharisees who focused on looking holy rather than being holy.
Jesus could be humble because He didn’t have unstable self-esteem and self-worth; He knew His identity. He KNEW that His father in heaven was powerful and He didn’t need to listen to temptations, fix things in his own strength, nor prove others wrong. He let His hater (Satan) talk trash and replied with scripture that exalted God rather than words to seem powerful.
Through Jesus, you can escape pride too. You don’t have to give into the voices that make you fight for power, greed, control, and appearances of perfection. Let him into your heart. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
Related Article: Dying To Self: 4 Tips To Crucify The Flesh!
6-7. Controlling King Saul
Have you ever become afraid and tried to take matters in your own hands? King Saul operated in pride twice due to his fear and impatience. Then, he tried to control situations and operate outside of God’s will.
King Saul Disobeys the Prophet Samuel
Samuel, the prophet, said to King Saul: “I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.” (1 Samuel 10:8) Samuel would meet with Saul in seven days and present an offering to God.
Essentially, King Saul should have waited for Samuel, but he didn’t. Instead, he offered a sacrifice to God by himself. This was a sin because only priests and levites were able to offer sacrifices under the law. In addition, he disobeyed the instructions of the prophet Samuel.
King Saul is a perfect example of trying to fix a situation in our own strength. When believers cannot patiently wait for God, they run the risk of doing things outside of God’s will. Therefore, It’s important to remove self-reliance and fear from your life and humbly wait on God.
King Saul Tries to Kill David
King Saul sent David on missions and he was always successful. David was eventually given a high rank in Saul’s army. After a specific war, “when the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:6-7)
King Saul was angry that they esteemed David as a greater warrior. After that he kept a close eye on David. “The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul.” While David was playing the lyre, King Saul tried to kill him twice. “Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul.” (1 Samuel 18)
Then King Saul plotted to have David killed by sending him to war. As an incentive to go to the war and win, Saul’s daughter Michal would be given to David for marriage. Though, King Saul became afraid of David because his plans weren’t working. The Lord was with David in every battle. And his daughter loved David. This ordeal led to King Saul plotting other ways to kill David.
Ultimately, this shows that King Saul feared he wouldn’t be loved anymore if David was around. How many times have you compared yourself to others? Have you felt that you could shine brighter if someone else wasn’t around? This story highlights two great men that were anointed by God. Yet, one of those men was so insecure that he didn’t believe it. He needed the applause and love of others to feed his prideful ego. Essentially, King Saul need recognition from others, but He should have depended on God for self-worth.
8. Judgemental Michal
We’ve all met one of those people that judge us for not being perfect. In 2 Samuel 6, David was being judged as he was dancing before the Lord. His wife Michal despised him for the way he worshipped God. She said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” She was only concerned with how the situation looked to others, not with what God thought.
David didn’t give into her criticism and judgement. He knew that God is worthy of it all. He said to Michal: “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” (2 Samuel 6)
This story is a reminder that pleasing God is more important than pleasing those that look down on us in pride. In addition, it’s a reminder to respect how others choose to worship God rather than judge them. People are often too quick to judge appearances rather than celebrate the good in a situation. And in this situation, David was passionately in love with God. The Bible called David “a man after God’s own heart” twice.
9. Over Confident Peter
After the last supper, Jesus and the disciples retreated to the Mount of Olives. Then, Jesus told his disciples: “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 26)
Jesus basically said that some of the disciples would fall away. However, Peter was sure Jesus wasn’t talking about him. In prideful confidence, Peter stated: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” Jesus replied: “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Peter replied back, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” While Peter truly wanted to believe that, it wasn’t so. He ended up denying Jesus.
This story is a reminder that we can’t put our confidence in what we will never do. The truth is, we don’t know what we will do till we are put in terrible situations. In addition, we shouldn’t judge others that come from sinful lifestyles. We don’t know what happened to cause them to sink that low.
10. Arrogant Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian King, was a powerful and arrogant ruler. He built temples and shrines to his pagan gods. Nebuchadnezzar also built a golden statue that he required others to worship. He punished followers of the true God such as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for refusing to bow.
In a dream, Nebuchadnezzar was alerted of his prideful heart and was prompted to repent or endure God’s judgment. His dream revealed that his arrogance would be the cause of his destruction. Unfortunately, the king didn’t heed the warning and lost his kingdom. Luckily, once the King repented and humbled himself before God, his kingdom was restored and increased. (Daniel 4)
#11-38 Examples of Pride in the Bible
The are an additional 28 stories of pride in the Bible. I will write a detailed explanation for each soon.
- Goliath (1 Samuel 17:41-47) – Goliath was proud and arrogant, leading to his defeat by David.
- Belshazzar (Daniel 5:18-31) – Belshazzar became proud and desecrated the holy vessels of the temple, resulting in the handwriting on the wall and his downfall.
- Absalom (2 Samuel 15:1-12) – Absalom became proud and plotted to overthrow his father King David, resulting in his own death.
- Adonijah (1 Kings 1:5-10) – Adonijah became proud and attempted to become king in place of his father King David, resulting in his defeat.
- Gehazi (2 Kings 5:20-27) – Gehazi became proud and lied to Elisha, resulting in his leprosy.
- Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:21-37) – Sennacherib became proud and mocked God, resulting in his defeat by God’s hand.
- Nabal (1 Samuel 25:1-38) – Nabal became proud and refused to give provisions to David, resulting in his death.
- Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) – Ananias and Sapphira became proud and lied to the Holy Spirit, resulting in their deaths.
- Diotrephes (3 John 1:9-10) – Diotrephes became proud and refused to welcome the apostles, resulting in his condemnation.
- Nebuchadnezzar’s son (Daniel 5:1-4) – Nebuchadnezzar’s son became proud and used the holy vessels of the temple for a party, resulting in the writing on the wall.
- Jezebel (1 Kings 21:5-16) – Jezebel became proud and plotted to take Naboth’s vineyard, resulting in her death.
- Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24) – Simon became proud and desired to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit, resulting in rebuke.
- Sanballat (Nehemiah 4:1-3) – Sanballat was a governor of Samaria who opposed the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and mocked Nehemiah, displaying his pride and arrogance.
- King Saul (1 Samuel 15:17-23) – Saul’s disobedience to God’s commands and his unwillingness to acknowledge his mistakes demonstrated his pride.
- King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16-21) – Uzziah became proud and tried to offer incense in the temple, a task reserved for priests, resulting in God striking him with leprosy.
- Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:21-23) – Herod Agrippa I was a ruler who allowed himself to be praised as a god, leading to his ultimate downfall.
- Queen Vashti (Esther 1:1-22) – Vashti refused to appear before King Xerxes and his guests, displaying her pride and resulting in her removal as queen.
- Jezebel (1 Kings 16:29-34; 21:1-16; 2 Kings 9:30-37) – Jezebel was a queen of Israel who promoted idol worship and persecuted prophets of God. She displayed her pride by asserting her power and authority over others.
- Delilah (Judges 16:4-22) – Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab and was known for promoting the worship of false gods and for her wickedness. She was proud and refused to repent, ultimately meeting a violent end.
- Herodias (Mark 6:17-29) – Herodias was the wife of King Herod and persuaded her daughter to request the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Her pride was evident in her desire to silence those who spoke out against her.
- Athaliah (2 Kings 11:1-16) – Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and the wife of King Jehoram of Judah. She was known for her pride and arrogance and for promoting the worship of false gods. She was eventually overthrown and executed.
- The Prodigal Son: The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 is a parable about a young man who demanded his inheritance early and then squandered it on reckless living. His pride led him to believe he could make it on his own, but eventually he found himself destitute and had to return to his father to beg for forgiveness.
- Eli’s Sons: Eli was a priest and judge in Israel, and his sons Hophni and Phinehas also served as priests. However, they were described as “scoundrels” who “had no regard for the Lord” and treated the sacrifices and offerings with contempt (1 Samuel 2:12-17).
- Lucifer/Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15) – Prideful angel who rebelled against God.
- Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1-50) – Prideful Philistine warrior who defied and mocked God’s people.
- Peninnah (1 Samuel 1:1-8) – Prideful wife of Elkanah who taunted and provoked Hannah for being barren.
- Korah (Numbers 16:1-35) – Prideful Levite who rebelled against Moses and Aaron’s leadership.
- Diotrephes (3 John 1:9-10) – Prideful church leader who refused to welcome and support the apostle John and his fellow workers.
Characteristics of a Prideful Person
- Self Righteous
- Power Hungry
Read more: 7 Causes of Pride: How to be More Humble!