Shame, Prov 3:35


To shame others is to cause them to feel the pain of having lost the respect of others because of improper behavior.  It is dishonor or disgrace.  In the Bible we find many different examples of this which should help us to understand when it is appropriate and when it is not.

Appropriate shame:

You shaming yourself by sin – 2 Chr 32:21 – this is the normal response for someone who has knowingly sinned and begun to reap the consequences of his sin.  Prov 13:5 says, “a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.”  Prov 11:2 says, “when pride cometh, then cometh shame.”  Prov 3:35 says, “shame shall be the promotion of fools.”  Your conscience is seared when you no longer feel the shame of your sin [Zeph 3:5].

Others shaming your sinful actions – Ex 32:25 – Aaron made some of the people in Israel dance naked in front of the golden calf.  This was a shame to their enemies.  In the New Testament we find several examples from Paul [1 Cor 14:35; 15:34; Eph 5:12].

Judges shaming your unlawful deeds – Jud 18:7 – when you get caught in something illegal, the correct response is shame.  Feeling this discourages you from wanting to break the law again.

God shaming Israel in her disobedience – Ps 44:9 – Israel had every advantage as the people of God.  And yet they turned their back on God and went after their idols.  As a result, God put them to shame.  God will do the same to you when you disobey him.

God shaming his enemies and the enemies of his people – Ps 35:4; Ps 44:7 – God will put his enemies and the enemies of Israel to shame when Jesus returns.  We saw examples of this during the reign of David.  David’s rule typifies the destruction of Israel’s enemies and the establishment of Jesus’ peaceful kingdom, which was ruled by Solomon.  When you sin against God without taking Jesus Christ as your only remedy for sin, God will bring you down, eternally!

Inappropriate shame:

Children shaming their parents – Prov 19:26 – a son wastes his father when he spends up his inheritance like the prodigal son did, or when he uses his father’s money to sin, or when he gets an education, for instance, that turns him against his father’s principles and Jesus Christ.  He chases away his mother when, as Dr. Ruckman says, “he causes her to cut off communications with him” or he refuses to care for her in her elder years.  It’s inappropriate when mom is the one who feels the shame and the reproach of others for what her son has done.  The reproach is the child’s not his parents’.  We say of such a son “what a shame.”  Don’t take his shame; it’s not yours.  In Prov 28:7, when a son “shameth his father” he causes his father to feel the pain of his son’s loss of respect and dishonor.  In Prov 29:15, when a “child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,” it’s her’s because she left him to himself and refused the rod and reproof.  However, when she has applied the rod [nurture] and given reproof [admonition] and the child turns out to be a bad kid, it’s not her shame; it’s his, though she feels the pain of his disgrace and dishonor.  She did what she was supposed to do.

Others shaming your worthy deeds – 1 Sam 20:34 – Saul, because of envy, shamed David when David was his faithful servant.  This happens in the New Testament as a result of preaching the gospel to those who refuse to believe it [Acts 5:41].  Rejoice like the disciples did.

Scorners shaming your reproof – Prov 9:7 – the reprover is trying to get the sinner to turn.  But because the sinner is a scorner, instead of turning, which is the right response, he shames the reprover.  Don’t carry this shame.

Others shaming you by sinning against you – 2 Sam 13:13 – you are ashamed because you have been violated, which is natural, but you shouldn’t have been made to feel that shame by those who sinned against you or molested you.  This can be tough to get over.

Others shaming the glory of God – Ps 4:2 – they do this when they take God’s name in vain, when they reject creation, when they blaspheme the works of God by attributing his miracles to natural causes or to the devil, when they abuse themselves with mankind through vile affections and uncleanness, when they worship idols and false gods instead of the true God, when they trust the arm of flesh rather than the living God [Is 30:3], and so forth.

Conclusion: as you can see from the Bible, there are numerous causes for shame.  Some are appropriate and some are inappropriate.  Let the work of the appropriate causes of shame bring its beneficial results.  And shun inappropriate causes for shame.  If you have been shamed by another’s sin against you, get help if this shame continues to steal your joy in the Lord