7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
In verses 7-10, Paul speaks of his thorn in the flesh. God had a purpose in giving him this thorn–that God would show him how to be strong in his weakness.
7 And lest [negative purpose] I should be exalted above measure
No doubt Paul was “exalted” in the Christian world. Paul’s temptation was to take pride in the many revelations given to him. However, God put a limit on his status in the world.
by the abundance of the revelations,
The particular issue whereby God exalted Paul was in the area of abundant “revelations.”
a thorn [stake] in the flesh was given to me,
God gave the apostle a “thorn in the flesh” so that he would appreciate God’s grace in his life and not exercise pride because of the revelations given him. A “thorn” is something sharp and painful. It could have been his enemies, physical limitation, or chronic trial.
a messenger [angel] of Satan to buffet [batter, abuse] me,
Satan was the intermediary cause of Paul’s thorn. He may have sent a special demon agent to “buffet” him. God allowed Satan to batter the apostle but only by His permission. It was God’s will that the apostle endures Satan’s abuse. Paul needed something to give him spiritual equilibrium.
lest I be exalted above measure.
For the second time in this verse, Paul referenced his “exalted above measure.” Spiritual pride is the most dangerous of all prides. There is pride of face, place, and race, but the worst of all is pride of spiritual accomplishments. The apostle’s thorn subdued pride in the fact that God gave him abundant divine revelations. He could have felt that he was something special in God’s eyes.
Satan is God’s proxy to implement trial in the believer’s life.
Satan, at times, is an unwitting agent used by God (1 Th 2:18). God allowed Satan to put Job under severe duress. This is what we refer to as the doctrine of concursus; that is, God allows Satan to do certain things, but only under His control. God is in the business of showing us our weaknesses (Php 1:29). If you wish to study the doctrine of concursus further, go here: God’s Will and Free Will | Bible Exposition Commentary (versebyversecommentary.com)
Our reputation and character are two different things. Our reputation is what other people think we are. Our character is what we are. Generally, we have an inflated estimation of ourselves. At times, we exalt ourselves above measure.