A black and white photo captures a solitary figure standing atop a mountain peak, their face obscured, symbolizing the internal struggle with pride faced by biblical characters.

Bible Characters Who Struggled With Pride

Pride is a dangerous sin that can creep into anyone’s heart, even some of the most faithful followers of God. In the Bible, there are several examples of godly men and women who at times struggled with pride and arrogance.

If you want a quick answer, here are three bible characters who notably struggled with pride: King Saul, King Uzziah, and Simon the Sorcerer.

In this comprehensive article, we will look at the stories of five prominent biblical figures who wrestled with pride and ego. Examining their experiences can help us identify pride in our own hearts and find the humility and grace to overcome it.

With wisdom and insight from Scripture, we can learn from their mistakes and not repeat them.

Saul’s Disobedience and Downfall Due to Pride

Saul’s Humble Beginnings

Saul started off as a humble man when he was first anointed as king of Israel. Though he came from a prominent family, he did not seek power for himself. In fact, when Samuel told him he would be king, Saul hid among the supplies because he felt unworthy (1 Samuel 10:22).

However, once Saul became king, he began to change.

Pride Leads Saul to Disobey God

As Saul grew more powerful, he became prideful. His first major act of disobedience was when he unlawfully offered a sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel to offer it (1 Samuel 13:8-14). Saul’s impatience and self-importance led him to disregard God’s command.

Samuel rebuked Saul strongly for his disobedience.

However, this did not stop Saul’s pride. Years later, God commanded Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites. But Saul directly disobeyed by sparing the king and keeping the best livestock (1 Samuel 15:3-9). When confronted by Samuel, Saul lied and denied his sin, further revealing his pride.

As a result, God rejected Saul as king over Israel.

The Cost of Saul’s Pride

In the end, Saul’s pride led to his ruin. He went from anointed king to rejected by God. Saul’s life spiraled downhill after his disobedience. He became paranoid and jealous, especially towards David. He even tried multiple times to kill David! Saul’s pride alienated him from God and others.

It led him to make foolish decisions that cost him his kingship and family.

The story of Saul reminds us of Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” No matter how much God blesses us, we must remember to stay humble and follow Him wholeheartedly.

Saul’s negative example serves as a warning to all believers about the dangers of prideful disobedience.

Uzziah’s Pride and Unlawful Presumption

Uzziah’s Faithful Early Reign

King Uzziah had a long and prosperous reign in Judah. The Bible says he sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God (2 Chronicles 26:5). As long as Uzziah sought the Lord, God made him prosper (v. 5).

Early in Uzziah’s reign, he won battles against the Philistines and tore down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod. God helped him against the Philistines, Ammonites and Meunites (vv. 6-8). Uzziah rebuilt Eloth and restored it to Judah (v. 2).

He was an effective king who wielded influence as far as the entrance to Egypt (v. 8). As a result, his fame spread far and wide, “for he was marvelously helped till he became strong” (v. 15).

Pride Leads Uzziah to Overstep Boundaries

Sadly, once Uzziah grew strong, his pride overtook him. “When he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense” (v. 16).

In his pride, Uzziah arrogantly assumed priestly duties that God had restricted to the Aaronic lineage. The priest Azariah and 80 other courageous priests confronted King Uzziah and rebuked him for overstepping his boundaries: “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense.

Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the Lord God” (v. 18).

God Harshly Punishes Uzziah’s Arrogance

Uzziah arrogantly dismissed the priests’ warning and God swiftly punished him with leprosy right there in the temple next to the altar of incense. Uzziah lived with leprosy until the day he died, dwelling isolated in a separate house (vv. 19-21).

Josephus records that a great earthquake struck at the moment of Uzziah’s sin and leprosy, causing the temple to split open where the king unfaithfully tried to burn incense (Antiquities of the Jews).

Uzziah’s unlawful presumption teaches us God strongly resists the proud who exalt themselves while rejecting God’s wise instructions (Proverbs 16:5; James 4:6). Let’s learn from Uzziah’s example not to depend on our own understanding but trust in the Lord wholeheartedly (Proverbs 3:5-7).

Peter’s Brash Pride and Denial of Jesus

Peter’s Declaration of Loyalty to Christ

Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and friends. In a moment of fervent zeal, Peter declared to Jesus: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will,” and “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Matthew 26:33-35).

Peter’s boastful words likely stemmed from pride in his personal loyalty to Jesus. Little did Peter know how much he would struggle to live up to this bold promise.

Peter’s Pride Leads Him to Contradict Jesus

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He foretold that Peter would deny knowing Him three times before the rooster crowed. But Peter stubbornly insisted, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Matthew 26:34-35). 😕 Jesus knew Peter’s weakness better than Peter did!

Pride had blinded Peter from seeing the truth about himself.

The Humbling Result of Peter’s Boastful Pride

During Jesus’ trial, Peter did exactly what Jesus said he would do – Peter denied knowing Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75). Peter must have been utterly shocked and devastated that his prideful boasting gave way to cowardly denial.

😔 After the rooster crowed, Peter “went outside and wept bitterly” (v.75), finally humbled.

Peter’s experience shows the self-deception pride can bring. But it also displays God’s mercy, as Jesus later restored Peter who went on to boldly preach the Gospel. Let us learn from Peter not to think too highly of ourselves, but rely on Christ’s strength!

As Proverbs 16:18 (NIV) wisely warns: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The Pharisees’ Religious Pride

The Pharisees’ Strict Adherence to the Law

The Pharisees were known for their extremely strict adherence to the Mosaic Law and Jewish traditions. They followed over 600 additional rules and regulations beyond what God had instructed in Scripture in an effort to remain ritually pure and avoid sinning (Mark 7:1-8).

For example, they washed their hands ceremonially, practiced fasting twice a week, and gave a tenth of even tiny garden herbs like mint, dill, and cumin (Matthew 23:23). While keeping God’s commands is good, the Pharisees went to extremes and valued following man-made traditions over having a right heart before God.

The Pharisees’ Pride in Their Own Righteousness

Not only did the Pharisees strictly observe the Law, they took great pride in their own ability to keep it. They looked down on those they deemed as “sinners” who failed to measure up to their standards (Luke 18:9-14).

They trusted in their own righteousness, thinking they could earn salvation by their good works (Luke 18:9). Their hearts were full of arrogance and self-righteousness. They practiced their piety openly to gain admiration and recognition from others (Matthew 6:1-8, 23:5-7).

However, God desires humility and values a broken, repentant spirit rather than outward displays of false holiness (Psalm 51:16-17).

Jesus Condemns the Pharisees’ Arrogance and Hypocrisy

Jesus strongly confronted the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He called them “blind guides” and fools for focusing on minor aspects of the law while neglecting more important matters like justice, mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23-24).

He exposed their outward piety as a pretense, likening them to whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but full of dead men’s bones within (Matthew 23:27). Despite their zeal for rituals and rules, they completely missed the spirit of the law which is love.

Jesus warned his disciples against following the example of the Pharisees whose righteousness was only external and did not reflect a genuine heart change (Matthew 5:20). The Pharisees exemplify the danger of valuing the praise of men over the praise of God.

Simon the Sorcerer’s Pride and Desire for Prestige

Simon’s Amazement at Philip’s Miracles

Simon the sorcerer was a man who practiced magic arts in Samaria during the early days of the church (Acts 8:9-11). When Philip came to Samaria preaching Christ and performing miraculous signs, Simon was amazed by the great miracles he saw.

He likely realized that Philip’s power was greater than his own tricks and illusions, so he decided to follow Philip to try to learn more.

Simon Tries to Purchase Spiritual Power and Prestige

When the apostles Peter and John came to Samaria, Simon saw them lay hands on believers to impart spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit. He was so impressed that he offered them money, saying “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:18-19).

His request showed that his heart was still filled with pride and desire for power and prestige. He viewed spiritual things as something that could be bought.

Peter’s Harsh Rebuke of Simon’s Prideful Ambitions

Peter strongly rebuked Simon, saying “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:20-21).

He told Simon to repent and pray for forgiveness of such a wicked thought. Simon asked them to pray for him, showing he realized the severity of his sin.

This account displays how pride and desire for power can lead to grave sin. Even after seeing real miracles, Simon’s heart was unchanged. He still wanted prestige and influence without true faith. His motives were exposed when he tried to buy spiritual authority.

May we examine our own hearts for pride and wrong motives in pursuing spiritual things or position in the church.


Pride can infect even the noblest hearts, as we’ve seen from looking at the downfalls of King Saul, King Uzziah, Peter, the Pharisees, and Simon the Sorcerer. Their stories serve as sobering warnings for us to vigilantly guard our hearts from arrogance and selfish ambition.

We must humbly rely on God’s grace to transform our character and produce virtue, integrity, and genuine godliness in our lives. As James 4:10 (NIV) wisely counsels us, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

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