You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me; And Your gentleness makes me great. (Psalm 18:35, NASB).
His name was Joe. He was a student at the Bible College where I had
just graduated. We now worked together in the library of a science museum. Joe was friendly, kind and soft-spoken, but at the same time excited about his faith in Jesus. Our conversations revealed him to be a person who had real experiences with God. Joe was also on my dispensational college’s “watch list” because he was charismatic. He wasn’t supposed to propagate his beliefs about the Holy Spirit, but Joe just couldn’t help himself. Despite being warned by college authorities, Joe quietly but relentlessly shared with others his experiences with the Holy Spirit.
One day Joe was excited to tell me about what he had discovered in his reading of the Psalms. As he shared with me the verse above, I’ll never forget the simple, authentic earnestness of his voice. “Greg, His gentleness makes me great!” If anyone else had said it, I would have probably forgotten it, but Joe exemplified what he was talking about. Because of his connection with Jesus, his life was the very image of the earnest gentleness of God.
The sweet psalmist of Israel composed the 18th psalm as a tribute to his God who had “delivered him from the hand of his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” David was now the king. He had consolidated his rule and had subdued his enemies, despite the odds being against him. But at this point in his life at least, he was cognizant of who had put him on the throne. David knew that it was not by might, nor by power, but by God’s Spirit that he was what he was. The gentle One had stooped down to raise him up and entrust him with shepherding his people.
The word the NASB translates as “gentleness” is actually capable of several renderings including “goodness” and “providence”. Spurgeon writes that “’Thy condescension’ may, perhaps serve as a comprehensive reading . . . It is God’s making himself little which is the cause of our being made great.”
I think now that God was trying to tell me something about Himself through gentle Joe - something that might have served as a corrective to the rather intellectual view of God to which I had been exposed. I had been equipped with information, skills in interpreting the Bible, principles for ministry and a bachelor’s degree as primary tools to become a great servant of Christ. But I lacked “the one thing necessary” that Joe had – a healthy filling of the simple, gentle Spirit of Jesus. The very same Spirit that gently draws people to Him, stoops down and lifts them up to greatness. I’m still learning Joe’s lesson.
C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, (Newark, Del.: Cornerstone) vol. 1, 277.
Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29, NIV).
How has God’s gentleness lifted you up, perhaps even elevated you? Take a moment to quietly thank him.
Whom do you need to gently empower towards greater things?