Pride Comes Before the Fall

Being a college student in the 90s meant seeing some of the largest swings in popular music styles in history. The decade started out with MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Boys II Men, and the final throws of 80s metal. That was quickly followed by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and Gangster rap. The decade ended with the rise of the boy band, pop music princesses like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce, and rappers like Big E Smalls, Ludacris, and Busta Rhymes. One producer seemed to have his hands in all of it, though, and that was a guy named Sean Combs. He was better known at the time as Puff Daddy. 

Puff Daddy, over the years, has become insanely powerful in the music and entertainment industry over the last four decades; founding Bad Boy Records, having 11 number-one hits, 3 grammies, 27 platinum albums, and 15 gold albums. In 2022, Combs’ net worth was estimated to be at $1 billion. That’s a far cry from the boy born in Harlem who lost his father to murder at the age of 3. He should be one of the greatest rise-from-the-ashes stories of our time, but there’s a darkness that has been uncovered in the last few months that shows a side of Diddy, as he’s known now, that reveals what happens when pride and lust take center stage in our lives.

On March 25th of this year, Diddy’s home in Miami was raided by federal officers, as well as two other homes of his in New York and Los Angeles. An investigation of Combs was underway that has uncovered an underground sex trafficking ring that includes famous actors, politicians, and various entertainment and business executives from all over the world. It is now being found out that Combs would have, what he called, “Freak Out” parties where up-and-coming musical artists, actors, and various minors would be sold off for the pleasure of these millionaires and billionaires. There were also cameras everywhere so that Diddy could have video evidence to hold over the heads of these insanely rich and famous people. He wanted to hold all of these people captive to blackmail to get what he wanted. What should have been a story about rising up from the lowest of lows to making something of yourself instead becomes a story of blackmail, evil, and corruption. How does this happen?

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

In the book of 1 Samuel, we read of how the Israelites had become tired of the Judges who had ruled the people in God’s name. They wanted to be like other countries and have an actual king who would rule in their own power. God saw this as a rejection of Him but gave the people what they wanted. Samuel went to the home of the Benjamite, Kish, who was wealthy and had a son named Saul who was the most handsome in Israel and stood taller than any of the Israelite people. As Samuel was speaking with Saul, he had a feast there for him and spoke highly of him. This confused Saul because he was of the clan of Benjamin, considered to be the lowest of the clans of Israel. 

Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
1 Samuel 9:21

This was the type of humility that would endear him to people. He had all the characteristics of a king but didn’t view himself too highly. After staying the night, Samuel got up the next morning to anoint Saul. 

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies.
 1 Samuel 10:1

Shortly after this, Saul was pronounced king over Israel to the people as they shouted, “Long live the king!” Immediately, Saul began to win battles and honored the Lord in all he did. If this would’ve continued, Saul would’ve gone down as one of the greatest men to have ever lived. Unfortunately, power and pride got in the way.

And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ”
1 Samuel 15:1–3

The command here was simple. Defeat the Amalekites and destroy everything. Do not spare a life. As king of the people of Israel, Saul was to follow the commands of God. He would rule in His name and under His authority. Unfortunately, Saul had begun to think more highly of himself.

And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
 1 Samuel 15:7–9

Saul didn’t do as the Lord had asked. He thought bringing back the spoils to sacrifice to God was a better idea, and this did not serve him well. He was, in essence, showing off for the people. He wanted them to see what he had done by bringing back King Agag and the spoils of their victory. He wanted glory but tried to play it off as though he was giving God the glory through sacrificing the spoils. Samuel shared God’s displeasure with him. 

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
1 Samuel 15:22–23

This was the beginning of a downward spiral that would see Saul become evil in the sight of God and ultimately led to his end by taking his own life. Saul’s pride and desire for power blinded him from seeing God’s ways as better. We can learn a lot from both of these stories. Everything we have is from God, and everything we do should be for God.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
James 1:16–18

Our perspective should be this, God blesses so we bless God. This leaves no room for pride or the need for power. There is only one God. I’m so thankful that’s not me.

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