40+ Bible Verses about Humility

The gospel is that I am so sinful that Jesus had to die for me, yet so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. I can’t feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone.

Tim Keller

Humility is the opposite of what our society celebrates. We have a whole month where people applaud pride, parading through the streets flaunting what they feel is their "authentic self."

Yet, we know that humility is desirable. We appreciate when we see a truly humble person who serves their community.

So, which one is it? Do we celebrate pride or humility?

As with most things, we will only find confusion in this world's system. The place to find unchanging truth is in God's Word.

I just love tracing an idea all the way through the story of the Bible. So, let's see what God has told us about humility.

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Exodus 10:3 - So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.

Here, we have our first time seeing humility mentioned in the ESV Bible. It is a negative example, pointing to Pharaoh's refusal to submit to God's authority. Egypt has witnessed 7 of the 10 plagues & Pharaoh is still stubbornly keeping the Israelites enslaved. Pharaoh deservedly gets a bad reputation from his actions in Exodus, but don't we do the same thing? We see sign after sign that God is at work & we fold our arms in defiance. We can't be bothered to make Him the center of our life. Or even a supporting role. Let's not forget how much we have in common with the arrogant, hard-hearted King of Egypt.

Leviticus 26:40-42 - But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in the their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, the I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Jacob and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

God is speaking here. He's reiterating the blessings for Israel's obedience & the negative consequences for their rebellion. Humility is part of the process for repentance from rebellion against God's commands. When we rebel (& boy do we rebel), we can repent & turn back to our Father. He is merciful! He will forgive & restore. What a humbling truth!

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 - And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Moses is reviewing the commandments with the people of Israel. He's rehearsing the history of their escape & their covenant with the Lord God. (This is a common practice in Jewish culture -- remembrance. It started all the way back in the OT & they have their feasts, sabbath, and many other traditions that encourage this.) Israel had to be humbled by God. They wandered in the wilderness, not knowing where they would find food. But God provided, even in their rebellion. No matter how much we turn away from Him, God is always ready to forgive when we turn back to Him.

2 Samuel 22:28 - You save a humble people, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.

David sings this song of praise after God delivers him from his enemies. It's also recorded in Psalm 18. It echoes the idea that humility brings blessing from God. The proud must be humbled.

1 Kings 21:29 - “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”

Anyone else shocked to read this one? David, sure I can see him as being humble. But AHAB? AKA the worst King of Israel?! And yet, even Ahab has a brief episode of repentance & humility before God. And his humility briefly averts God's judgment from Israel. What a great reminder of God's goodness & His incredible forgiveness! And how small my faith often is in His sovereignty over every situation.

2 Kings 22:19 - because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD.

Little 8-year-old Josiah ascends to the throne of Judah after his father dies at the young age of 24. (Yeah, he was a young dad!) Judah has been through some evil kings, but Josiah begins his reign by repairing the Temple that has fallen into disrepair. The High Priest Hilkiah finds the Law in the process & he reads it to Josiah. Upon hearing just how disobedient the country has been, Josiah tears his clothes in distress. Like in the story of Ahab, Josiah's repentance turns away God's wrath over Israel's sin.

2 Chronicles 7:14 - if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

One of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible, right? While Bible verses like this have some great principles, they are specifically written to God's special people--Israel. Solomon has just finished building the Temple & God appeared to him in a dream. God knows that the people will sin & rebel against Him, but He also makes a way for them to return to Him. And the heart posture of this return in humility. It's a great pattern for us to follow, too.

2 Chronicles 12:6-7, 12 - Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The LORD is righteous.” When the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. . . . And when he humbled himself the wrath of the LORD turned from him, so as not to make a complete destruction. Moreover, conditions were good in Judah.

Here we see the previous passage playing out. If you want to see other examples, you can check out Hezekiah's humility in chapter 32, Manasseh's repentance in chapter 33, Josiah in chapter 34.

2 Chronicles 28:19 - For the LORD humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had made Judah act sinfully and had been very unfaithful to the LORD.

This passage is kind of the opposite of the last passage. Ahaz had led the people into sin, but the people had not humbled themselves & returned to the Lord. So, God had to bring a defeat to humble them. This comes up multiple times, too. Amon in chapter 33. Zedekiah in chapter 36.

Ezra 8:21 - Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.

Ezra follows this pattern of humility in asking for God's protection instead of asking for a guard from the King. This allowed this nonbelieving king to see the people's trust in their God & that their God was trustworthy!

Psalm 25:9 - He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

David also knows this pattern that goes all the way back to the beginning. He emphasizes God's faithfulness & steadfast love & mercy. We do have the choice to humbly hear His guidance or to choose to pridefully follow our own way.

Psalm 34:2 - My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.

Our only boast is in what God has done for us. We can make much of what He has accomplished through us, and all the glory goes to Him.

Psalm 55:19 - God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, (Selah) because they do not change and do not fear God.

The truly humble has the ear of God, the One Who sovereignly reigns over the universe. This contrasts with those who are too prideful to change their sinful ways.

Psalm 69:10 - When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.

David is really going through something in this psalm. He feels like he's drowning in the scorn from those around him. He has insisted on righteous living & worship, but it has brought reproach on him. He has been brokenhearted & has fasted over this situation. And even that has brought more hateful attitudes toward him. Humility in its truest form can be a sharp contrast to the pride of others. And it's hard when your sin gets exposed, especially pride.

Psalm 69:32 - When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.

In contrast to the previous verse, David knows that those who humble themselves will rejoice when God saves them & shows Himself strong & just. While the proud balk at humility & repentance, the humble rejoice when God shows them their sin & saves them from it.

Psalm 76:9 - when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth. Selah

"The humble" are those who acknowledge their sin & inability to save themselves. God alone can save.

Psalm 147:6 - The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.

In God's kingdom, it is the humble that are elevated to places of honor. (See also Proverbs 3:34; 15:33; 18:12; 22:4)

Psalm 149:4 - For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.

The cross references in my study Bible sent me to Isaiah 61:3 (you can take a minute to read this beautifully poetic passage). I love the picture of God dressing us in His righteous salvation. He set out from the very beginning to win His people back, to redeem them from their sinfulness. He delights in us!

Proverbs 11:2 - When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

If you've had a chance to spend much time in Proverbs, you might recognize one of its repeated themes in this verse--WISDOM. Here, we see a contrast between pride & humility. We see the difference in their outcomes. Pride results in disgrace while humility leads us to wisdom. How many times have we seen this play out in our own lives or in the lives of those around us? We know that a humble heart will be ready to hear wise counsel & to repent when needed.

Isaiah 2:9 - So man is humbled, and each one is brought low— do not forgive them!

This phrase or a variation of it comes up throughout Isaiah (2:11,19; 5:15; 26:5). Isaiah has been rebuking the people for their idolatry, even calling them prostitutes who have sold themselves to these other gods. This passage begins to speak of God's impending judgement for their sin. The ultimate humbling will come when every knee will bow & every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!

Isaiah 58:3, 5 - ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. ...Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?

Here Israel is complaining that they did all the religious rituals but didn't receive God's favor. Isaiah goes on to call out the falseness of their motives. Their actions were merely superficial. They did not reflect a true humbleness of heart.

Isaiah 66:2 - All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

God, the Creator of the universe, is seeking those whose hearts are truly humble & fearfully reverent of His Word. It's not about the externals (see the previous verses). God looks at the heart. We have no secrets from Him. We can't fool Him by dressing the "right way" or singing the "right songs" or saying the "right things." We can't even fool Him by getting baptized, serving in our church, giving to the needy, reading our Bibles. All of that doesn't matter one teensy bit if our hearts are not authentically humble before Him.

Jeremiah 44:10 - They have not humbled themselves even to this day, nor have they feared, nor walked in my law and my statutes that I set before you and before your fathers.

Once again we see another prophecy of coming judgement on God's people because of their idolatry. Back in Leviticus & 2 Chronicles & throughout Psalms & Proverbs, we've seen that the appropriate reaction to sin being pointed out in our lives is humility. Israel in particular was given these instructions. Sadly, they have chosen not to humble themselves before God. We do the same thing as they did, don't we? Despite seeing the pattern & knowing the result, we repeatedly push God to the side & pridefully choose to follow our own way.

Daniel 4:37 - Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

I think it's interesting that Nebuchadnezzar's own words are used here. Daniel includes in this chapter the narrative of this great Babylonian ruler's dreams & absolute humiliation. He is turned from a richly dressed, sumptuously feasted king into a beast, living in the fields. This lesson seems to have had its intended effect as Nebuchadnezzar humbly acknowledges the supremacy of God. He sees that it is God who raises up kings & empires, & it is He alone who brings them to an end.

Micah 6:8 - He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Here's a rather familiar one, right? If you look at the preceding verses, you'll see that Micah is answering a series of questions posed in verses 6-7. "What do I bring with me as a sacrifice worthy of this great & holy God?" The answer isn't a bunch of outward religiosity. The answer is a true heart change. Justice, mercy, humility.

Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12 - Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. ... But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD,

The first verse here is in the beginning chapters which warn about the coming judgement. The warning also includes the humble, telling them to continue in their humble ways. The second verse here is from the last part of the book which speaks of the blessing that will come after the judgement. Conversion of peoples from all nations!

Zechariah 9:9 - Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Here's a beautiful prophecy about the Rescuer--Messiah. Rejoicing is called for because He was coming for them & He would come in humility. This very passage is played out to the letter in Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Matthew 18:4 - Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus speaks these words about his seemingly upside-down kingdom. The humble will be elevated in His kingdom. Won't that be refreshing after this life of arrogant, bombastic politicians who grasp power anyway they can! God's kingdom is nothing like man's kingdom-hallelujah for that!

Matthew 21:5 - “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

Matthew loves to point out when OT prophecy gets fulfilled by Jesus & here is one example. He's referring back to the verse from Zechariah that we just read together.

Matthew 23:12 - Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

One of Jesus' most lengthy rebuke of the Pharisees, He once again points out the counterfeit nature of their power. Those who would be great must learn to serve. (Also, Luke 14:11, 18:14)

Luke 1:48, 52 - for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;... he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;

These verses are from Mary's song of praise (sometimes referred to as The Magnificat) that she sings after she tells Elizabeth about the angel's message that she would be the mother of the Messiah. It's a beautiful song & Mary must've been talented in this area. She knew that she was a "nobody." But God had chosen her for this incredible task.

Ephesians 4:2 - with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Paul encourages the Ephesian believers in how they should be relating to each other & right in the list is humility.

Philippians 2:3 - Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Paul encouraging the church at Philippi with a similar message. Be humble in how you interact with your brothers & sisters in Christ.

Philippians 2:8 - And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

How can we be this humble body of believers? By looking to the ultimate example of humility, Jesus. God Himself took on the flesh of mankind to die to save us.

Colossians 3:12 - Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

After telling them what activities & attitudes they should be putting off, Paul then tells them what to put on as chosen sons & daughters of God. Some would call us pretty arrogant to call ourselves the things we do-chosen, beloved, sons & daughters, etc. But these truths should be an agent of humbling in our lives. "And can it be?!"

James 4:6, 10 - But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” …Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Why is this world in the mess that it's in? Selfish pride. We as believers are right there, too. We pray selfishly & buddy up with the world. Yet, God is gracious & will continue to lavish His grace on us as we humbly repent & seek Him.

1 Peter 3:8 - Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Peter gives similar instructions to the recipients of his letter. Humbly work together to build unity as we further the Gospel.

1 Peter 5:5-6 - Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

Peter uses similar quotations as James. He's first speaking to the younger believers in the church to be humble in submitting to the elders in the church. He then tells all the believer to be humble before the Lord.

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Here's my big takeaway:

What started out as a command to God's covenant people of Israel became a mark of distinction of those who are part of God's Kingdom.

While I knew that humility was a big deal in life, I never realized just how intricately it is woven into the fabric of God's story of redemption. He commanded Israel to stay humble & ready to repent. He consistently picked the humblest of people to place in roles of authority. He stepped into the human race as the ultimate example of what humility looked like. Then, He indwells his children & empowers them to walk in humility towards their fellow believers & the world around them.

What are some of your big takeaways from this study? What do you know about God from studying this topic of humility? Please let me know in the comments!

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Cheering you on!


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