Obadiah 1:2-5
Behold, I have made you small among the heathen: you are greatly despised.…

Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised. The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, etc. These words may be taken as suggesting and illustrating one of the chief sins of all sinners, viz. pride, that which poets tell us "peoples hell and holds its prisoners there." The words suggest three facts in relation to pride.

I. THAT THE MOST DESPICABLE PEOPLE ARE OFTEN THE MOST DISPOSED TO PRIDE. Edom, which is charged with the sin of pride, is here described as "small among the heathen" and "greatly despised." Not only were they a small people, small comparatively in numbers, wealth, and influence, but despised. They became contemptible in the estimation of their contemporaries. Small things and small men are not always despicable, for God made the small as well as the great. It is the moral character that creates and deserves contempt. Now, small and despicable as were these Edomites, they were nevertheless proud. It is often, if not ever, so. The smaller the men the more disposed to pride. The man small in body is often swollen out with ideas of the comeliness of his person; the man small in intellect is the same. The men who rate themselves as great thinkers, scholars, authors, preachers, are invariably small-brained men. Men of great intellect and lofty genius are characteristically humble. An old writer has observed that "where the river is the deepest the water glides the smoothest. Empty casks sound most; whereas the well fraught vessel silences its own sound. As the shadow of the sun is largest when his beams are lowest, so we are always least when we make ourselves the greatest."


1. To self-deception. "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." Pride is a wonderful artist; it magnifies the small; it beautifies the ugly; it honours the ignoble; it makes the truly little, ugly, contemptible man appear large, handsome, dignified in his own eyes. It is said that Accius, the poet, who was a dwarf, would have himself painted as tall and commanding in stature. In truth, it makes the man who is a devil at heart appear to himself a saint. Witness the Pharisee in the temple.

2. To presumption. "Thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?" The Edomites are here taunted with the confidence that they placed in their lofty and precipitous mountain, and the insolence with which they scouted any attempt to subdue them. A proud man always presumes on strength, reputation, and resources which he has not. Whilst he stands on quicksand he fancies himself on a rock. "Thou sayest thou art rich, and increased with goods, and hast need of nothing; whereas," etc. (Revelation 3:17), Ah! self-deception and presumption are the twin offspring of pride.


1. Its certainty. "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord." Here these sinners are assured, by a bold hyperbole, that whatever attempts they made to avoid retribution, they would fail. If, like the eagle, they towered high into the air, far up among the clouds, nestled among the stars, and made the clouds their footstool, the fowler of retribution would bring them down. All attempts on behalf of the impenitent sinner to avoid punishment must fail when the day for justice to do its work has come.

2. Its completeness. "If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night (how art thou cut off!), would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grape gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?" The spoliation which thou shalt suffer shall not be such as that which thieves cause, bad as that is; for these, when they have seized enough, or all they can get in a hurry, leave the rest; nor such as grape gatherers cause in a vineyard, for they, when they have gathered most of the grapes, leave gleanings behind; but it shall be utter, so as to leave thee nothing. The exclamation, "How art thou cut off!" bursting in amidst the words of the image, marks strongly excited feeling. The contrast between Edom, where no gleanings shall be left, and Israel, where at the worst a gleaning is left, is striking (Isaiah 17:6; Isaiah 24:13). Retribution strips the sinner of everything; nothing is left but sheer existence, and that existence intolerable.

CONCLUSION. Beware of pride, then. The primal cause of all sin, all pain, and all woo to come, the great fountainhead of evil, is pride. It must load to ruin. "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

"He that is proud eats up himself. Pride is
His own glass, his own trumpet: his own chronicle,
And whatever praises itself but in
The deed, devours the deed in the praise."

(Shakespeare.) D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.

WEB: Behold, I have made you small among the nations. You are greatly despised.

The Vision of Obadiah
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