You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from Your commandments.
In this very brief verse we can learn a great deal about God’s perspective of the arrogant. We can begin with a simple definition. The arrogant person is the one who wanders from God’s commandments. I would call this independent living. They may claim to know God personally, but when it comes to dependence on God, that is not a reality in their life. If they believe they need God at all, it is simply to provide for their eternal destiny. They are not particularly interested in learning more about God, studying His word, living in obedience, etc.
This arrogance is displayed in many ways. God is not the ultimate priority in their life. They may occasionally open up their Bible, but they are not driven to it, longing for God’s word, or desperate for God to teach them. They may be willing to talk about Christianity in a group where they would not encounter opposition, but it is unlikely they would ever initiate a conversation regarding the gospel in a potentially hostile crowd. If they have a prayer life, it has far more to do with what they want God to do for them than a desire for God’s will to be accomplished. These prayer requests are generally focused on issues of temporal consequence rather than eternal value.
In Psalm 119 we learn some of the characteristics of the arrogant. In verse 51, they laugh with contempt at those who are faithful to the Lord. In verses 69 and 78 they lack integrity and speak against those who are faithful to the Lord. In verse 85 they are harmful to the cause of God.
The true believer is learning to hate the sins of the flesh, especially pride and arrogance!
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.”
Spurgeon reminds us that “Pride lies at the root of all sin: if men were not arrogant they would not be disobedient.”1
God’s response to the arrogant is undisputed. He declares them to be cursed. That is, to have divine harm or evil provoked upon them. They may believe they can live independently, but they will answer to God. God will rebuke them for their insolent pride. They rejected the word of God and now they will be judged by the word of God.
We must consider our own response to God’s word. Do I wander from the commandments, or do I passionately pursue them? Are they a drudgery to me, or a delight? The arrogant do not see the value of God’s commandments. The righteous sees them as more valuable than all the gold in the world.
1 Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The Treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, p. 173). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.