In my devotions this morning, a phrase struck a chord deep within my soul. I don't think I have ever noticed it before: "Your gentleness has made me great" (Psalm 18:35). Let's consider it together for a few moments.
So many of God's ways are quietly and softly done. Without fanfare, behind the scenes, mundane mercies cascade down around us all the day and on through into the night. Like snowflakes drifting down through winter morning stillness, most fall to the ground unnoticed.
In the Hebrew, the word "Gentleness" itself has a rich pedigree. Most commonly it is used to describe men and speaks of the kindly, humble gentleness that is often best learnt in the school of solitude, suffering, and disappointment. We all know someone clothed with this virtue. They have a Gandalf-like serenity, don't they? Like a millpond in the early morning, or an eagle soaring effortlessly, high above the plains. When they are with us, this quietness lends a warm distance to their presence: Attentive, observant, listening, but never aloof. As they drink in their surroundings, their tender gaze reaches beneath the surface appearance of things. They see reality in a way that often escapes the busy soul. What's more, they see us, right into our souls, we feel known and understood in their presence.
This is the way God is, and it is the way I want to be. How is God Gentle? Well there are so many things we could say, aren't there?
God is Gentle in His Person
Think of the Father; He is gentle. "As a Father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. He knows their frame. He is mindful that they are but dust."
Think of the Son. He is gentleness incarnate. See Him gathering little children up into His arms to bless them, weeping outside Jerusalem over the hardened condition of His soon to be murderers, reaching out His arms to hard-hearted Capernaum, "Come to me all you who are weary and heaven-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Supremely we see his gentleness, as they led him like a lamb to the slaughter, when like a sheep before its shearers, He was silent. Calvin summed it up well:
Or think of the Spirit, dove-like in His gentleness; so easily grieved by harsh, angry, bitter, resentful, malicious speech (Eph 4:29ff). Think of how gently he brings us to faith, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, renewing our wills, and persuading and enabling us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel.
God is Gentle in His Providence
God is always doing something in all our lives. As the Apostle says, "From Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things" (Romans 11:36). All creatures, actions, and things from the greatest to the least are in His hands. His finger prints mark every atom of the universe. His sovereignty even overrules the mistakes we make and the sins we commit. As my systematics professor, Duncan Rankin once said, "He handles our sinfulness sinlessly" - and all to His glory! But how rarely do we feel His hands or hear his footsteps, yet He is always there, everywhere, and in everything active.
God is Gentle in His Kindness
This is what really captured the Psalmist's attention: "Your gentleness has made me great." Here is God's wonderful habit of lifting up those who really deserve to be cast out and down into hell. He gather's us up in His arms, loves us at the cost of His Son, washes us clean with His blood, fills us up with HIs Spirit, makes us new in His likeness, brightens our soul with His glory, adopts us into His family, lifts us up to His Throne, and works our all to His good.
Stop. Bow your head. Wonder and Worship.
What is God doing in your life at the moment. Can you see His hand? Do not let anger, frustration, bitterness, anxiety, or stress rob you of this vision? You will need to be still in your soul if you want to see this gentle Savior as He passes by.