Let’s do a little exercise on how to increase your Biblical perspective on a subject – it could be any subject – using “insolent pride” (the Biblical term for narcissism) as the example.
If you are starting from zero, it is impossible to immediately have the entire Biblical perspective right at the beginning. You can only start with one piece, add another piece, and another piece, until a picture forms. Consider it like building a wall brick by brick, or a painting brush-stroke by brush-stroke, or even a Lego figure lego-brick by lego-brick. You analyze and interpret each brick, but also compare how it fits in with the next brick. If you do not understand where a particular brick fits, you may have to set it aside until you see how it fits into the emerging figure.
Are there any guideposts that keep you on track at the very beginning? You could use a picture of the finished work. In the case of a Biblical perspective on something, the ultimate finished work is the nature and character of God, especially as shown through the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ. Key verses like I John 4:10, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:8, and John 3:16 provide foundational guideposts.
Let’s take a shot at how this brick building might work, using Psalm 119.
Psalm 119 talks about those with insolent pride. How do we know this? While the English word is “pride”, the Hebrew word (found through resources like http://www.biblehub.com) “zed” is the word for “insolent pride”.
Original Word: זֵד
Definition: insolent, presumptuous
Definition: insolent, presumptuous
NASB Translation: arrogant (9), arrogant men (1), presumptuous (1), proud (2).
KJV Translation: proud
Looking at each instance where “zed” is used in Psalm 119, we find the following verses – and what they tell us about 1. narcissists, 2. how God deals with them, and/or 3. how we should we respond.
Here we go. Remember that each use of the word “proud” below is “zed” – or insolent pride. The following is from the King James Version.
Psalm 119:21 – Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
- God rebukes narcissists
- They are “cursed” – either in this life (God opposes the proud) through failure, and/or in the next life through spending eternity in hell
- Narcissists do NOT do what God says (even though they may claim or pretend to)
Psalm 119:51 – The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
- Narcissists heavily scorned, mocked, looked down on, and criticized David (Hebrew word is “lits” – the same as scoffer, one of the other terms for narcissists) – BUT
David did not use that attack from the narcissists as an excuse to walk away from God and his instructions for life
- Narcissists created (“forged”) lies against David – BUT
- Rather than focus on fighting the lies, David put his attention on wholeheartedly following God and doing what He said
- Because narcissists twisted the truth and undermined David – even though he was innocent – David asked God to cause them fail in a humbling way that embarrassed and humiliated them – BUT
- While GOD was dealing with narcissists in response to his prayer, David focused his attention in meditation on God’s word and how HE wanted David to live
- This one is a little unclear in the KJV – the NASB says it this way “The arrogant have dug pits for me, people who are not in accord with Your Law.”
- Narcissists do not walk according to God’s ways (although they may say that they do – ie they are hypocrites).
- They dig pits (create traps, try to undermine) others
- David asked God to promise good for him, backed by His own Person – (reputation, glory, blood if needed) – AND
- Part of that promise would be for God to prevent narcissists from oppressing him. He looked to God in specific prayer for HIS protection.
There we are. How many things did we learn about dealing with narcissists just from Psalm 119? I count 14 – maybe you count a couple more or a few less. Anyway, this is how a Biblical perspective is developed, line upon line.
But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little ‘
Once again, when starting out do not come to a locked-in conclusion, until you have many pieces which make sense together. If something does not make sense, set it aside until God further reveals it. Do NOT develop your theology based on just a couple of verses. We interpret every part of the Bible through consistency with the WHOLE Bible. This takes a lifetime, but the effort and journey is worth it.