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Obadiah 1:1-41NIV New International Version Translations
1 The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Sovereign LORD says about Edom—We have heard a message from the LORD: An envoy was sent to the nations to say, “Rise, and let us go against her for battle”—2 “See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised. 3 The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ 4 Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD.


The name Obadiah means “Servant of Yahweh” (literally — “One who serves or worships Jehovah”). This is a prophecy and has the distinction of being the shortest book in the Old Testament. There are twelve different individuals in the Old Testament with this name (a very common name), but no indication that any of these other individuals are to be identified with this particular prophet.

Nothing is known about his life, background or personality except what little can be inferred from this prophecy. It is assumed that he was a native of Judah. Others feel he may also have been among the circle of prophets attached to the Jerusalem Temple. The Jewish Talmud2Talmud – The collection of ancient Rabbinic writings consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara, constituting the basis of religious authority in Orthodox Judaism. states Obadiah was not Jewish, but rather an Edomite proselyte God used to rebuke his own people.

In addition to being the shortest book in the Old Testament, Obadiah also “bears the distinction of being the most difficult of the prophecies to date”. His work is ascribed to periods ranging from 845 to 400 BC. There are two major theories:

  • 585 BC — This is the view held by most liberal scholars. It places this prophecy about a year after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
  • 845 BC — This is the view held by “a good majority of the evangelical scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries.” It places the prophecy during the days of King Jehoram (848 – 841 BC) when Jerusalem was attacked by the Philistines and Arabians (with probable cooperation from the Edomites — II Kings 8:20; II Chron. 21:8-10, 16-17).

Biblical Truths

Below is a collection of commentary on Obadiah:

John Calvin once remarked that because of the brevity of Obadiah it did “not suggest as many sermons” as the longer prophetic works. Although this may be true, there are nevertheless numerous lessons to be derived from this book. For example — when one shares in “the spoils of wrong-doing,” even though he may not be an instigator of the crime, by “standing aloof” he becomes “as one of them” (Obad. 11).

When someone (even a nation) becomes unjust, cruel and bitter toward someone else, especially when they’re brethren, they will be punished, and the one wronged will be avenged.

As a people sow, so will a people reap! “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap!” (Gal. 6:7). The Edomites sought to destroy the Israelites, and were themselves destroyed (see Obad. 15).

Obadiah makes it clear that the idea of a nation being invulnerable is an illusion! Edom felt so secure that they believed no one could destroy them. They built entire cities which were hidden within cliffs, and which could only be reached by narrow passes — the famous city of Petra, which was carved from a mountainside, was in Edom. Their security, however, was misplaced. God said He would destroy them, and history demonstrates how this occurred.
The people were proud and arrogant which led them to be self-deceived. “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?'” (Obad. 3). The answer is in the next verse — “‘From there I will bring you down,’ declares the Lord.”

The Edomites had become wise in their own eyes. They had all the answers; had need of nothing; God had been left out of the picture. In the Old Testament there is no mention of any Edomite religion or any Edomite gods. “The Edomites had no allegiance to a god. This has led many scholars to believe that this unusual people were so self-sufficient, arrogant, and self-satisfied that they wouldn’t even call upon the name of any kind of god. They believed they had all the answers themselves.”

The Kingdom of the Lord will always ultimately prevail (Obad. 21 — “And the kingdom will be the Lord’s”).

The ultimate sin of Edom was “a manifest display of lack of brotherliness.” Edom stood by and gloated over the misfortune of a brother nation. “He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished” (Prov. 17:5).

God provides a place of escape for those who would turn to Him — Mount Zion (Obad. 17).

Items for Discussion

  • How does a nation demonstrate arrogance?
  • How does a church demonstrate arrogance?
  • What are the ways people show they do not believe in a God?
  • What are the ways that we all stand “aloof” and show that we do not care about others?


Luke 14:7-11
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


The Apostle Luke, born in Antioch, studied Greek philosophy, medicine, and art in his youth. Luke came to Jerusalem where he came to believe in the Lord. He and Cleopas met the resurrected Lord on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). After Pentecost, Luke returned to Antioch and worked with the Apostle Paul, traveling with him to Rome, and converting Jews and pagans to the Christian Faith. “Luke, the beloved physician, … greets you,” writes the Apostle Paul to the Colossians (Colossians 4:14). At the request of Christians, the Apostle Luke wrote his Gospel in the first century, sometime between 60 A.D. and 80 A.D. After the Apostle Paul’s martyrdom, Luke preached the Gospel throughout Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia, and other regions.

In his old age, he visited Libya and Upper Egypt; from Egypt he returned to Greece, where he continued to preach and convert many despite his age. In addition to his Gospel, Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Luke was 84 years old when he was tortured for the sake of Christ and hanged from an olive tree in the town of Thebes, in Boethia.

Biblical Truths3Barnes’ Notes

Verse 7. A parable. The word parable, here, means rather a precept, an injunction. He gave a rule or precept about the proper manner of attending a feast, or about the humility which ought to be manifested on such occasions.

When someone invites you. That were invited by the Pharisee. It seems that he had invited his friends to dine with him on that day.

Places of honor. The higher places at the table; those which were nearest the head of the table and to him who had invited them. That this was the common character of the Pharisees appears from Matthew 23:6.

Verse 8. The place of honor. The seat at the table nearest the head.

A person more distinguished. A more aged man, or a man of higher rank. It is to be remarked that our Savior did not consider the courtesies of life to be beneath his notice. His chief design here was, no doubt, to reprove the pride and ambition of the Pharisees; but, in doing it, he teaches us that religion does not violate the courtesies of life. It does not teach us to be rude, forward, pert, assuming, and despising the proprieties of refined intercourse. It teaches humility and kindness, and a desire to make all happy, and a willingness to occupy our appropriate situation and rank in life; and this is true politeness, for true politeness is a desire to make all others happy, and a readiness to do whatever is necessary to make them so. They have utterly mistaken the nature of religion who suppose that because they are professed Christians, they must be rude and uncivil, and violate all the distinctions in society. The example and precepts of Jesus Christ were utterly unlike such conduct. He teaches us to be kind, and to treat men according to their rank and character. Comp. Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17.

Verse 10. The lowest place. The lowest seat at the table; showing that you are not desirous of distinctions, or greedy of that honor which may properly belong to you.

You will be honored. They who are sitting with you shall treat you with respect. They will learn your rank by your being invited nearer to the head of the table, and it will be better to learn it thus than by putting yourself forward. They will do you honor because you have shown a humble spirit.

Verse 11. Who exalts. This is universal among men, and it is also the way in which God will deal with men. Men will perpetually endeavor to bring down those who endeavor to exalt themselves; and it is a part of God’s regular plan to abase the proud, to bring down the lofty, to raise up those that be bowed down, and show his favors to those who are poor and needy.

Items for Discussion

  • How do we learn to be humble?
  • How does one learn manners?
  • In what way does humility and being a well mannered Christian help in the spread of our faith?
  • What parts of our society don’t respect a humble person?
  • What are the differences between a good looser and a humble winner?
  • How do children learn humility?

Discussion Challenge

  • How can our church become a model of humility?
  • 1
    NIV New International Version Translations
  • 2
    Talmud – The collection of ancient Rabbinic writings consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara, constituting the basis of religious authority in Orthodox Judaism.
  • 3
    Barnes’ Notes