1 Peter 5:5-7
Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility…
Obj. 3. But sure we will never rise high if we let our spirits fall. God will not only raise the humble ones, but He will lift them up on high; for so the word signifies.
I. THE BENT OF ONE'S HEART, IN HUMBLING CIRCUMSTANCES, SHOULD LIE TOWARDS A SUITABLE HUMBLING OF THE SPIRIT, AS UNDER GOD'S MIGHTY HAND PLACING US IN THEM.
1. Some things supposed in this. It supposeth that —
(1) God brings men into humbling circumstances (Ezekiel 17:24). There is a root of pride in the hearts of all men on earth, that must be mortified ere they can be meet for heaven. And God brings men into humbling circumstances for that very end (Deuteronomy 8:2).
(2) These circumstances prove pressing as a weight on the heart, tending to bear it down (Psalm 107:12). They strike at the grain of the heart, and cross the natural inclination.
(3) The heart is naturally apt to rise against these humbling circumstances, and consequently against the mighty hand that brings and keeps them on. The man naturally bends his force to get off the weight, that he may get up his head, seeking more to please himself than to please his God (Job 35:9, 10).
(4) But what God requires is rather to labour to bring down the heart than to get up the head (James 4:10). Lastly, there must be a noticing of God, as our party, in humbling circumstances. "Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it" (Micah 6:9).
2. What are these humbling circumstances the mighty hand brings them into? These are circumstances —
(1) Of imperfection. God has placed all men in such circumstances, under a variety of wants and imperfections (Philippians 3:2). There is a heap of natural and moral imperfections about us; our bodies and our souls, in all their faculties, are in a state of imperfection.
(2) Of inferiority in relations, whereby men are set in the lower place in relations and society, and made to depend on others (1 Corinthians 7:24). Now, God having placed us in these circumstances of inferiority, all refractoriness is a rising up against His mighty hand (Romans 13:2).
(3) Of contradiction. This was a part of our Lord's state of humiliation, and the apostle supposes it will be a part of ours too (Hebrews 12:3). Whether these contradictions be just or unjust, God proves men with them to humble them, break them off from addictedness to their own will, and to teach them resignation and self-denial.
(4) Of affliction (Proverbs 16:19). Prosperity puffs up sinners with pride; and oh, but it is hard to keep a low spirit with a high lot. But God by affliction calls men down from their heights to sit in the dust, plucks away their jay feathers wherein they prided themselves, rubs the paint and varnish from off the creature, whereby it appears more in its native deformity. Lastly, of sin as the punishment of sin (Job 30:19).
3. What it is, in humbling circumstances, to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.
(1) Noticing the mighty hand, as employed in bringing about everything that concerns us, either in the way of efficacy or permission (1 Samuel 3:18). "And he said, it is the Lord: let Him do what seemeth Him good" (2 Samuel 16:10).
(2) A sense of our own worthlessness and nothingness before Him (Psalm 144:3; Genesis 18:27; Isaiah 40:6).
(3) A sense of our guilt and filthiness (Romans 3:10; Isaiah 64:6). It is the overlooking our sinfulness that suffers the proud heart to swell.
(4) A silent submission under the hand of God. His sovereignty challengeth this of us (Romans 9:20; Psalm 39:9; Job 1:21).
(5) A magnifying of His mercies towards us in the midst of all His proceedings against us (Psalm 144:3). Has He laid us low? If we be duly humbled, we will wonder He has laid us no lower (Ezra 9:13).
(6) A holy and silent admiration of the ways and counsels of God, as to us unsearchable (Romans 11:33). Pride of heart thinks nothing too high for the man, and so arraigns before its tribunal the Divine proceedings, pretends to see through them, censures freely and condemns.
(7) A forgetting and laying aside before the Lord all our dignity, whereby we excel others (Revelation 4:10; Luke 18:11). Lastly, a submitting readily to the meanest offices requisite in or agreeable to our circumstances. Use: Let the bent of your heart then, in all your humbling circumstances, be towards the humbling of your spirit, as under the mighty hand of God. This lies in two things.
(a) Carefully notice all your humbling circumstances, and overlook none of them.
(b) Observing what these circumstances do require of you as suitable to them. Let this be your great aim through your whole life, your exercise every day. Motive
1. God is certainly at work to humble one and all of us.
2. The humiliation of our spirits will not take effect without our own agency therein; for He works on us as rational agents, who being moved, move themselves (Philippians 2:12, 13).
3. If ye do not, ye resist the mighty hand of God (Acts 7:51). And of this resistance consider —
(1) The sinfulness, what an evil thing it is. It is a direct fighting against God (Isaiah 45:9).
(2) The folly of it. How unequal is the match? How can the struggle end well? (Job 9:4).
4. This is the time of humiliation, even the time of this life. "Everything is beautiful in its season," and the bringing down of the spirit now is beautiful, as in the time thereof. Consider —
(1) Humiliation of spirit "is in the sight of God of great price" (1 Peter 3:4).
(2) It is no easy thing to humble men's spirits; it is not little that will do it; it is a work that is not soon done. There is need of a digging deep for a thorough humiliation in the work of conversion (Luke 6:48).
(3) The whole time of this life is appointed for humiliation. This was signified by the forty years the Israelites had in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:2; Hebrews 12:2).
(4) There is no humbling after (Revelation 22:11). If the pride of the heart be not brought down in this life, it will never be.
5. This is the way to turn humbling circumstances to a good account: so that instead of being losers, ye would be gainers by them (Psalm 119:71).
(1) Humiliation of spirit is a most valuable thing in itself (Proverbs 16:32). It cannot be bought too dear.
(2) Humility of spirit brings many advantages along with it. It is a fruitful bough, well laden, wherever it is. It contributes to one's ease under the cross (Matthew 11:30; Lamentations 3:27-29). It is a sacrifice particularly acceptable to God (Psalm 51:17). The eye of God is particularly on such for good (Isaiah 66:2). And it carries a line of wisdom through one's whole conduct (Proverbs 11:2), "With the lowly is wisdom." Lastly, consider it is a mighty hand that is at work with us; the hand of the mighty God; let us then bend our spirits towards a compliance with it, and not wrestle against it. Consider(a) We must fall under it. Since the design of it is to bring us down, we cannot stand before it; for it cannot miscarry in its designs (Isaiah 46:10), "My counsel shall stand."(b) They that are so wise as to fall in humiliation under the mighty hand, be they never so low, the same hand will raise them up again (James 4:10). Directions for reaching this humiliation.
1. General directions.
(1) Fix it in your heart to seek some spiritual improvement of the conduct of Providence towards you (Micah 6:9). Till once your heart get a set that way, your humiliation is not to be expected (Hosea 14:9).
(2) Settle the matter of your eternal salvation, in the first place, by betaking yourself to Christ, and taking God for your God in Him, according to the gospel offer (Hosea 2:19; Hebrews 8:10). Lastly, use the means of soul humbling in the faith of the promise (Psalm 28:7).
2. Particular directions.
(1) Assure yourselves that there are no circumstances so humbling that you are in, but you may get your heart acceptably brought down to them (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9).
(2) Whatever hand is, or is not, in your humbling circumstances, do you take God for your party, and consider yourselves therein as under His mighty hand (Micah 6:9). Men in their humbling circumstances overlook God; they fix their eyes on the creature instrument, and, instead of humility, their hearts rise.
(3) Be much in the thought of God's infinite greatness; consider His holiness and majesty, fit to awe you into deepest humiliation (Isaiah 6:3-5).
(4) Inure yourselves silently to admit mysteries in the conduct of Providence towards you, which you are not able to comprehend, but will adore (Romans 11:33).
(5) Be much in the thoughts of your own sinfulness (Job 40:4).
(6) Settle it in your heart that there is need of all the humbling circumstances you are put in (1 Peter 1:6).
(7) Believe a kind design of Providence in them towards you.
(8) Think with yourselves that this life is the time of trial for heaven (James 1:12).
(9) Think with yourselves, how it is by humbling circumstances the Lord prepares us for heaven (Colossians 1:12).
(10) Give up at length with your towering hopes from this world, and confine them to the world to come. Lastly, make use of Christ in all His offices for your humiliation, under your humbling circumstances. That only is kindly humiliation that comes in that way (Zechariah 12:10).
II. THERE IS A DUE TIME WHEREIN THOSE THAT NOW HUMBLE THEMSELVES UNDER THE MIGHTY HAND OF GOD WILL CERTAINLY BE LIFTED UP. First, a general view of this point. And consider —
1. Some things implied in it. It bears —
(1) That those who shall share in this lifting up must lay their accounts, in the first place, with a casting down (Revelation 7:14; John 16:33).
(2) Being cast down by the mighty hand of God, we must learn to lie quiet under it, till the same hand that cast us down raise us up (Lamentations 3:27).
(3) Never humbled in humbling circumstances, never lifted up in the way of this promise.
(4) Humility of spirit in humbling circumstances ascertains a lifting up out of them some time with the goodwill and favour of Heaven (Luke 18:14).
(5) There is an appointed time for the lifting up of those that humble themselves in their humbling circumstances (Habakkuk 2:3). We know it not, but God knows it, who has appointed it.
(6) It is not to be expected that immediately upon one's humbling himself, the lifting up is to follow. No, one is not only to lie down under the mighty hand, but lie still waiting the due time; humbling work is longsome work.
(7) The appointed time for the lifting up is the due time, the time fittest for it, wherein it will come most seasonably. Lastly, The lifting up of the humbled will not miss to come in the appointed and due time (Habakkuk 2:3). Time makes no halting, it is running day and night; so the due time is fast coming.
2. A word in the general to the lifting up abiding those that humble themselves. There is a twofold lifting up.
(1) A partial lifting up, competent to the humbled in time during this life (Psalm 30:1). This is a lifting up in part, and but in part, not wholly; and such liftings up the humbled may expect while in this world, but no more.
(2) A total lifting up, competent to them at the end of time, at death (Luke 16:22). Then the Lord deals with them no more by parcels and halves, but carries their relief to perfection (Hebrews 12:23). Now there is a due time for both these.
3. The certainty of the lifting up of those that humble themselves under humbling circumstances. And ye may be assured thereof from the following considerations.
(1) The nature of God, duly considered, insures it (Psalm 103:8, 9). Infinite power, that can do all things. Infinite goodness inclining to help. He is good and gracious in His nature (Exodus 34:6-9). And therefore His power is a spring of comfort to them (Romans 14:4). Infinite wisdom that does nothing in vain, and therefore will not needlessly keep one in humbling circumstances (Lamentations 3:32, 33).
(2) The providence of God, viewed in its stated methods of procedure with its objects, insures it. Turn your eyes which way you will on the Divine providence, ye may conclude thence, that in due time the humble will be lifted up(a) Observe the providence of God in the revolutions of the whole course of nature, day succeeding to the longest night, a summer to the winter, a waxing to a waning of the moon, a flowing to an ebbing of the sea, etc. Let not the Lord's humbled ones be idle spectators of these things; they are for our learning (Jeremiah 31:35-37).
(b) Observe the providence of God in the dispensations thereof about the man Christ, the most august object thereof, more valuable than a thousand worlds (Colossians 2:9). Did not Providence keep this course with Him, first humbling Him, then exalting Him; first bring Him to the dust of death, in a course of sufferings thirty-three years, then exalt Him to the Father's right hand in eternity of glory? (Hebrews 12:2).
(3) Observe the providence of God towards the Church in all ages. This has been the course the Lord has kept with her (Psalm 129:1-4).
(4) Observe the providence of God in the dispensations of His grace towards His children. The general rule is (1 Peter 5:5). Lastly, observe the providence of God at length throwing down wicked men, however long they stand and prosper (Psalm 37:35, 36).
(5) The Word of God puts it beyond all peradventure, which, from the beginning to the end, is the humbled saint's security for a lifting up (Psalm 119:49, 50). Consider —
(a) The doctrines of the Word which teach faith and hope for the time, and the happy issue the exercise of these graces will have.
(b) The promises of the Word whereby Heaven is expressly engaged for a lifting up to those that humble themselves in humbling circumstances (James 4:10; Matthew 23:12).
(c) The examples of the Word sufficiently confirming the truth of the doctrines and promises (Romans 15:4). Lastly, the intercession of Christ, joining the prayers of His humbled people in their humbling circumstances, insures a lifting up for them at length. Secondly, I proceed to a more particular view of the point.
1. We will consider the lifting up as brought about in time, which is the partial lifting up. And — first, some considerations for clearing the nature thereof.
(1) This lifting up does not take place in every case of a child of God. Objection, if that be the case, what comes of the promise of lifting up? Where is the lifting up, if one may go to the grave under the weight? Were there no life after this, there would be weight in that objection; but, since there is another life, there is none in it at all. Question, but then, may we not give over praying for the lifting up in that case? We do not know when that is our case; for a case may be past all hope in our eyes and the eyes of others, in which God designs a lifting up in time, as in Job's (Job 6:11).
(2) However, there are some cases wherein this lifting up does take place. God gives His people some notable liftings up, even in time raising them out of remarkable humbling circumstances. Lastly, all the liftings up the humbled meet with now are but pledges, samples of the great lifting up abiding them on the other side; and they should look on them so. Secondly, the partial lifting up itself. What they will get, getting this lifting up promised to the humbled. Why, they will get —
1. A removal of their humbling circumstances.
2. A comfortable sight of the acceptance of their prayers put up in their humbling circumstances.
3. A heart-satisfying answer of these prayers, so as they shall not only get the thing, but see they have it as an answer of prayer; and they will put a double value on the mercy (1 Samuel 2:1).
4. Full satisfaction as to the conduct of Providence in all the steps of the humbling circumstances, and the delay of the lifting up, however perplexing these were before (Revelation 15:3).
5. They get the lifting up together with the interest for the time they lay out of it.
6. The spiritual enemies that flew thick about them in the time of the darkness of the humbling circumstances will be scattered at this lifting up in the promise. Thirdly, the due time of this lifting up. The humbling circumstances are ordinarily carried to the utmost point of hopelessness before the lifting up. The knife was at Isaac's throat before the voice was heard (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9). Lastly, due preparation of the heart for the lifting up out of the humbling circumstances, goes before the due time of that lifting up according to the promise.
Parallel VersesKJV: Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
WEB: Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."