HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
“Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.” Psalm 18:35
What exactly may be meant by greatness is a question that we need not linger to discuss. It is enough that the writer of this verse was conscious that he had been lifted to that eminence. That he had been in extreme distress is clear from the earlier verses of this chapter. His heart had fainted–his efforts had been in vain–his hopes had flickered and sunk into their ashes. And then mysteriously, but very certainly, he had been carried upward to light and power and liberty, and now he is looking back over it all. That it was God who had so raised him up was, of course, as clear to him as noonday. He had sent up his cry to heaven in the dark, and to that cry His greatness was the answer. But what impressed him as he surveyed it all was not the infinite power of the Almighty; it was rather the amazing and unceasing gentleness wherewith that infinite power had been displayed. “Thy gentleness hath made me great,” he cried. That was the outstanding and arresting feature. Tracing the way by which he had been led, he saw conspicuous a gentle ministry of God.
The One and Only Gentle God
Let me say in passing that that wonderful concept is really peculiar to the Bible. I know no deity in any sacred book that exhibits such an attribute as that. Of course, when one believes in many gods, it is always possible that one of them is gentle. When the whole world is thought to be tenanted with spirits, some of them doubtless will be gentle spirits. But that is a very different thing indeed from saying that the One Lord of heaven and earth has that in His heart which we can dimly picture under the human attribute of gentleness. No prophets save the prophets of Israel ever conceived the gentleness of God. To no other poets save these Jewish poets was the thought of heavenly gentleness revealed. And so when we delight in this great theme, we are dwelling on something eminently biblical, something that makes us, with all our Christian liberty, a debtor unto this hour to the Jewish prophets for bringing this to our attention.
Now if we wish to grasp the wonder of God’s gentleness, there are one or two things we ought to do. We ought, for instance, always to lay it against the background of the divine omnipotence. You know quite well that the greater the power, the more arresting the gentleness becomes. As might advances and energy increases, so always the more notable is gentleness. It is far more impressive in the general of armies than in some retired and ineffectual dreamer. The mightier the power a man commands, the more compelling is his trait of gentleness. If he is ruler of a million subjects, a touch of tenderness is thrilling. And it is when we think of the infinite might of God, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, that we realize the wonder of our text. It is He who calleth out the stars by number and maketh the pillars of the heaven to shake. And when He worketh, no man can stay His hand, nor say to Him, What doest Thou? And it is this Ruler, infinite in power, before whom the princes of the earth are vanity, who is exquisitely and forever gentle.