☩ His Gentleness That Exalts
“You have given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand supported me, and Your gentleness has made me great.” Psalm 18:35
“Your gentleness has made me great.” is a theme seldom heard preached, an aspect of David’s life (a shepherd who knew the ways of the Great Shepherd) where he explicitly ascribes his status to God’s goodness alone and, which in contrast, is so unlike many who attribute their greatness to their own strength and ability. King David, exalted to the highest rank over Judah and Israel, wasn’t necessarily referring to his royal position; it goes beyond that; it was the state of God’ s grace in his life that truly made the difference. Stripped of his reign to govern a theocratic nation, David knew that he was just as dependent on God’s mercy and grace as the feeblest resident. David didn’t relate to God as a king per se but as a soul who desperately needed God. When David was chosen to be king, there was nothing indicative about him that warranted such a position; after all, he was just a shepherd boy (in the eyes of man) while his brothers were ‘experienced’ in the art of war.
A careful reading of David’s psalmody reveals that nothing mattered to him more than being in God’s sanctuary, knowing His presence and knowing the face of God shining upon him. Riches and high honour meant nothing to him in comparison to knowing the ‘joy of salvation’; nothing gave him more joy than knowing the Lord as his Shepherd. You will notice how David finished Psalm 23: “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”; David’s focus was not about his ‘dwelling on the throne’ but rather dwelling with Him Whose throne is from everlasting to everlasting.
Psalm 23 is applicable to us all as much as it was to the author; we’re in the same ‘boat’ as David was. His exaltation was manifest in ways different to our earthly status, but falls into the same camp as ours: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me…” – God exalts all of us through His gentleness. David had to stoop as a pauper when it came to the mercy of God, and how often he pleaded to Him for His mercy. “Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath” (Psalm 62:9). One would hardly believe his kingship after reading his autobiographical psalms, but here was ‘a man after God’s own heart’ refusing to trust in his power or in the might of his warriors. God alone was his rock, not the foundations of his palace; God alone was his fortress, not the walls of Jerusalem; God alone was his deliver, not the strength of an army; God alone was the One Whom he could trust, not the fickle men who pretended to be his loyal servants and closest friends.
“You Who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again” (Psalm 71:20-21) echoes the same theme; it speaks of restoration, of being lifted from the mire – ‘the depths of the earth’ – not just in his reign as king, but spiritually as well; how David spoke of being crushed in spirit – tears had been his food day and night – and how the hand of the Lord laid heavy upon him because of his sin. The gentleness of God, the comfort of God is what restored, strengthened and elevated him. At first, David had to be brought low – “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6). God’s gentleness is made known to the humble and his grace and mercy even brings down the proud in order to exalt them with His gentleness; the kindness of God is to lead us to repentance that we may know His gentleness that exalts us, not necessarily lifted to high earthly positions but a greater realisation of our status in Christ, our unsearchable riches in Christ, Who is made unto us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption – our true riches desirable above all the choice treasures in the world.
His patience, His mercy, His grace, His love and gentleness toward us has meant our blessing. That and that alone is what makes us ‘great’ or exalts us from our low and poverty stricken state – only because of Him. Can there really be any boasting or any sense of crediting ourselves for God’s favour? Can we also wander away with the other nine lepers, after having being healed, and not give glory to God by living, not unto ourselves but unto Him? Does it not humble us to the ground that God “does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). He remembers that we are but dust and in wrath He remembers mercy, even though He would have been righteous and just to grind us to nothing – but for the gentleness of God, Who restores and gives rest to our soul, Who anoints our lives with His oil, and by Whose hand our cup runs over. Let us ascribe greatness to His name alone!
Father-like, He tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame He knows;
In his hands he gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes:
Praise Him! Praise Him!
Widely as His mercy flows.
(Hymn: ‘Praise My Soul the King of Heaven’ – Henry Francis Lyte)
Posted on May 17, 2012, in ☩ Expository and tagged crediting ourselves for God’s favour??, dependent on God’s mercy, expository teaching, Henry Francis Lyte, His Gentleness That Exalts, James 4:6, King David, Mark Anthony Williams, Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, Psalm 103:10, Psalm 18:35, Psalm 23, Psalm 62:9), Psalm 71:20-21, the Great Shepherd, the joy of salvation, the kindness of God, Your gentleness has made me great. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.