A Shrink Thinks

Humility means humble behaviour

Humility means humble behaviour
Alan Thomas
Alan Thomas Professor and Consultant in Psychiatry. Elder at Newcastle Reformed Evangelical Church.
25 April, 2024 4 min read

In Numbers 12:3 we read the stunning declaration, ‘Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.’ I guess I find it stunning because all we read about Moses previous to that might not make us think of him as humble. This is partly because he wasn’t to start with, was he?

He was raised in Pharaoh’s palace to be ruler, and from this high and pampered position he pushed himself forward to deliver his people. He was a great man who was convinced the Israelites would be pleased to have him as their leader.

So God humbled him, making him eat humble pie in the wilderness for 40 years. It has been rightly said that for 40 years God made Moses a great man, then for 40 years he humbled him, so that for 40 years God could show what he can do with a great man he has humbled.

Perhaps, too, I don’t easily see Moses as a humble man because I still labour to correct in myself the worldly view that humility is weakness. And Moses in Numbers 12 seems to be weak – after all, he doesn’t say or do anything at all, does he?

But that is the point. His inactivity here is not borne of weakness, for Moses was certainly not a weakling. His brother Aaron was the weak one. Here in Numbers 12, Aaron is led by his sister Miriam against Moses (she is named first, the verb is singular, and Miriam is the one afflicted with leprosy). More famously in Exodus 32, he caved in to the people when he built the golden calf.

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