The Greatness of God and the Hope of the Humble
Isaiah 57:15, 16
For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place…

The prophet presents us with a most noble contrast as he draws for us the surpassing greatness of the infinite God, and then pictures him to us as resident in a humble human soul -

I. THE EXCEEDING GREATNESS OF GOD. And this whether we have regard to

(1) the duration of his existence, - the fact that he "inhabits eternity," that he is "from everlasting to everlasting;" or to

(2) his position in the universe, - he is the "high and lofty One," King of kings, Lord of lords, immeasurably removed in his majesty and authority above the highest and mightiest of his creatures; or to

(3) his character, - "his Name is Holy." This name of holiness is indicative of all moral excellence, and reminds us that God is he in whom all goodness of every kind whatsoever has its residence and its source. So surpassingly great, in all respects, is he whom we worship, with whom we have everything to do.

II. THE HOPE OF THE HUMBLE IN REGARD TO HIM. We naturally ask - What hope is there that finite and guilty men can ever be brought into a close relationship with this infinite and holy God? what chance is there of anything like happy fellowship with him? Our text provides the answer.

1. The conclusion to which our philosophy and our experience point us - this is to a hopeless separation from him. Our human thought (see Isaiah 55:8) would lead, has continually led, to the conclusion that God would dwell apart from man in some remote, select region of illimitable space, not concerning himself with creatures so small and insignificant as we are. Our experience of guilt would lead us to the conclusion that we are hopelessly barred from his presence, and that those who have grieved and wronged him, as we have done, must be content to be banished for ever from his royal presence. But against this reasoning and this instinctive dread we have to place:

2. The fact which Divine revelation establishes; "with him also [does God dwell] who is of a contrite and humble spirit." It is a well-established fact, built on sure premises, on words which are stronger than the hills and the skies (Matthew 24:35), that God abides with all penitent souls, manifesting himself to them as their Father and their Friend, inviting their trust, their love, their joy in himself and in his near presence (see text; Isaiah 66:2; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 51:17; Psalm 138:6; Matthew 5:3; Matthew 18:4; 1 Peter 5:5).

3. The explanation of this fact lies in two Divine attributes:

(1) His mercy. The merciful Father desires to restore and "to revive" the heart that has been crushed under a weight of sin. He wounds, but it is in order that he may heal. He desires to see, and he promotes both by word and action, the contrition of spirit which appropriately follows a sinful deed or a guilty course; then the gracious and pitiful Lord extends his Divine mercy, and he heals the broken heart, restoring to it "the joy of his salvation," the blessedness of "the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."

(2) His considerateness. "I will not contend for ever... for the spirit should fail before me," etc. We have to do with a considerate Father, who "knows our frame, and who remembers that we are dust;" with a considerate Saviour, who remembers that the spirit is willing though the flesh be weak; with One who has a gracious forbearance in his chiding, lest too severe a sentence should crush the spirit he only means to bend and bless. We can hardly take too humble a view of ourselves, of the heinousness of our guilt and of the imperfection of our service; but our hope is this - we have to deal with a merciful and considerate Lord, and his friendliness toward us may be measured by the lowliness of the view we are taking of ourselves. Well may the proud of heart be afraid, for the heaviest penalties impend above their head; but let the humble-hearted be full of hope, for God is with them, and he will dwell in them, making their hearts his home. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

WEB: For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

The Dignity and Condescension of God
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