Insolent. It is not a common word. But the Holy Spirit used it quite a bit. It’s found, in some form, 22 times in the Bible (ESV). Almost a third of the time it is found in Psalm 119 which is where I stumbled across it. English dictionaries define the word as someone who is proud, disrespectful or arrogant. The Hebrew lexicons would add over-confident, shameful and unrestrained. When viewed in the context of Psalm 119, those definitions fit perfectly. They describe one who is prideful toward Jehovah and one who thinks, speaks and acts in a way that ignores or even opposes the Lord. The insolent will not be restrained because, in his over-confidence he is certain of his course and will not be slowed. Let’s look at how the Psalmist used the word in chapter 119.
“You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.” – (21)
“The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.” – (51)
“The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts.” – (69)
“Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.” – (78)
“The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law.” – (85)
“Give your servant a pledge of good; let not the insolent oppress me.” – (122)
The picture of the insolent person is ugly. They are viewed as dishonest, opposing good, sinners and even as accursed. They are never viewed in a positive light. They are mentioned in those dark verses at Romans 1:30 where they are associated with those who hate God. Insolence is not a good characteristic. It is not a quality of the faithful servant of God. To be insolent is shameful and despicable.
I suspect few people think of themselves as insolent. Yet there are many who oppose God because of their arrogance and pride. They refuse counsel (Proverbs 15:22; 21:30; Psalm 5:10; Job 12:13). In their pride, they will be shattered.
Fortunately, insolence can be broken. It need not be a permanent condition. Paul, speaking of himself, said, “…though formerly, I was a blasphemer, persecutor, insolent opponent” (1 Timothy 1:13). If Paul was once insolent and rose above it, so can you. Only trouble and heartache awaits the insolent. But freedom and liberty await the one who can shelve his pride and begin to trust in God.
First, we are unknowing and ignorant of tomorrow. At best, we can guess what the future holds but honestly, we know that great uncertainty marks our path. Second, God knows the future. Consider Psalm 37:37, 38: “Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. But the transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.” Third, God can and will deliver us from troubles of our own making. Despite the horrors of David’s sinfulness, he delivered him. As David sought God, let the former insolent man seek his face. Let the insolent man stop and fall to his knees in prayer. God is the healer. He will heal and restore.