‘Thy gentleness hath made me great.’ Psalm 18:35
Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 8:11–20
There are several readings of this text. The word is capable of being translated, ‘thy goodness hath made me great.’ David saw much of benevolence in God’s action towards him, and he gratefully ascribed all his greatness not to his own goodness, but to the goodness of God. ‘Thy providence’ is another reading, which is indeed nothing more than goodness in action. Goodness is providence in embryo; providence is goodness fully developed. Goodness is the bud of which providence is the flower; or goodness is the seed of which providence is the harvest. Some render it, ‘thy help,’ which is but another word for providence; providence being the firm ally of the saints, aiding them in the service of their Lord. Some learned annotators tell us that the text means, ‘thy humility hath made me great.’ ‘Thy condescension’ may, perhaps, serve as a comprehensive reading, combining the ideas which we have already mentioned, as well as that of humility. It is God’s making himself little which is the cause of our being made great. We are so little that if God should manifest his greatness without condescension, we should be trampled under his feet; but God, who must stoop to view the skies and bow to see what angels do, bends his eye yet lower and looks to the lowly and contrite, and makes them great. While these are the translations which have been given to the adopted text of the original, we find that there are other readings altogether; as for instance, the Septuagint, which reads, ‘thy discipline’—thy fatherly correction—‘hath made me great;’ while the Chaldee paraphrase reads, ‘thy word hath increased me.’ Still the idea is the same. David ascribes all his own greatness to the condescending goodness and graciousness of his Father in heaven. I trust we all feel that this sentiment is echoed in our hearts.
For meditation: We should rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ—in his gentleness (2 Corinthians 10:1), goodness (Acts 10:38), help (Hebrews 4:14,16) and humility (Philippians 2:8). As the result of these attributes God has done great things for us (Psalm 126:2–3; Matthew 12:29; Luke 8:39; 2 Corinthians 8:9).
Sermon no. 683
1 April (1866)