Our Merciful Condescending God

God is condescending? In today’s hypersensitive society many take offense that anyone might condescend to another. Relax. Let us look at some facts first then see what the Word of God has to say about it.
Our Merciful Condescending God
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2015 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete).

Even if one does not read the Holy Bible many have a sense that God transcends, is morally above, and is infinitely greater than His creation. With that, many realize they have need of God. Upon reading or hearing His Word, one learns that though God transcends He also condescends.

Just like a lot of words and phrases in our time “condescend” has taken on a negative connotation. Webster’s dictionary gives two main definitions of the word, and I do not know when the second definition came into existence. Webster’s states that condescend means  . . .

padding:5px 10px">1 a :  to descend to a less formal or dignified level :  unbend
b :  to waive the privileges of rank
2 :  to assume an air of superiority

Despite the fact that the first part of the definition is positive, something in our society focuses upon the second definition and this second definition is emphasized on the Internet by many linguistic “authorities.” This and similar situations convince me that the tainting of languages is part of what the Holy Bible calls “the mystery of iniquity” with one of the purposes being to make the Word of God say things it is not saying.

Nonetheless, I saw some godly comments on this matter at the Merriam-Webster web site {1}. Here are just a few:

  • Mark Flannery of Middlesex Community College wrote, “the KJV Bible and the world have opposite definitions of this word”.
  • Nancy Araujo, pastor at Earlville-Poolville United Methodist Churches, said, “If you break it down, con-meaning with and descend to come down isn't that what Jesus did? He came down to be WITH us! Ta-da!”
  • Kevin Kreg Forrester, owner at Kevin Forrester Law, stated, "God loves us too much to leave us in the hell of unhappiness that comes from trying to do his job. Into the slavish misery of our ladder-defined lives, God condescends."

I really feel our focus needs to be upon the first part of the definition where it states “condescend” means to “descend to a less formal or dignified level . . .  to waive the privileges of rank.” That is the sense of that word when used in the KJV and similar works.

It is a loving thing to condescend.  Ministers graduate from college or seminary where their mind has been academically exercised and has had theological terminology added to it. However, I quickly found that a minster must speak on the level of his or her hearers. That is lovingly condescending. Of course, it is also loving to encourage them to exercise their minds, increase their vocabulary, broaden their understanding and more.

And another beautiful example of Biblical condescending is seen when a youth or an adult gets eye-level (either by kneeling, stooping, crouching, etc.) with a small child to talk with them. Getting on the floor and playing with them, using their toys, is another example (and can be fun).

Psalm 18:35e-f

Now let us consider our text for this message. It is only one phrase and is found in the last portion of verse 35 (I designate that last portion as “35 e-f.”) of Psalm 18. That phrase is, “And Your gentleness has made me great."  We will consider that in two parts, first where it says “Your gentleness” (e), and then where it says “has made me great” (f).

“Anvar” is the Hebrew word translated as “gentleness,” and James Strong {2} has its definition as humility, meekness and also condescension. It has its root meaning {3} as “to be afflicted, to be humble.”

Therefore according to Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), “Your gentleness has made me great” can be rendered, “Thy lowliness maketh me great." I consider the YLT one of the few translations closest to the ancient texts and use it as one way to measure other translations. Here are a few that bring out the sense of our text:

Thy condescension hath made me great. - JPS
Thy lowliness hath made me great. Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
Your humility exalts me. Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
You have stooped to make me great. International Children’s Bible (ICB) & New Century Version (NCV)

I really like how the ICB and NCV have expressed the text. Stoop. God stooped down to bless David, the human author of Psalm 18. But, of course, the entirety of the Holy Bible shows He did that not just for David, but for everyone that enters the world. He stooped for you and me. He stooped through Jesus Christ.

I. Mercifully Stooping 35e

“You have stooped . . . “ (ICB)

We get a glimpse of this stooping at the beginning of this Psalm in verse two: “YHVH is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” YHVH was eight things to David and eight times David said “my.” God, Who is higher and holier than the people He has created, people Who have rebelled against Him by sinning, can not only be claimed by us but can personally and intimately relate to us in powerful ways.

God is most holy. We are most sinful. God loves each of us but hates our sin. Because we sin His wrath abides on us. But, out of Holy love He Himself bridged that gap through Jesus Christ. He stooped to save us. By the Holy Spirit, the apostle John states (John 1:14) “. . . the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The term “the Word” is firmly associated with God Himself in John 1:1. God through Christ, the Messiah, took our form and dwelt among us. The term for dwelt used in this verse actually means to tabernacle {4}.

A vivid description of how He stooped is found in Philippians 2:5-8 which is as follows:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The Greek indicates “form of God” means having the actual nature of God. I have an article on this on another web site which is hardly operational anymore so, God willing and as time permits I want to do another article and place it on my The Sure Word {5} blog here at Experts Column. However, if you look into reliable sources like Thayer, Vine, and Wuest you will see that the Greek word used for “form” in that verse definitely indicates that Christ was all God just as He is all man.

Though being God He chose not to “pull rank” as God (thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation) but lived among us to live the pure


holy life that we are supposed to live and then die on the cross.

In the earthly realm to die impaled by Roman soldiers was a tortuous death and one of complete shame. Most pictures of Christ hanging on the cross do not even come near the horror a person would face in that fate. He was almost completely bloodied (if not completely) and completely naked. Those condemned that way were openly scorned and ridiculed right up to their last breath. Yes, God stooped to save us through Christ.

But their is more, and even worse in the spiritual realm, for it is written in 2 Corinthians 5:21 about Christ that “. . .  He has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Did you see it? For our sake Christ was made sin.

Now, think about that. Think of some sins you really hate to see or even hear about. Murder? Christ became murder that murderer might have salvation. Child molestation? Christ became child molestation that the molester might receive forgiveness and grace from the Father. Homosexuality? Christ became homosexuality that the homosexual might be freed from that sin and live the rest of their life to the glory of God. Adultery? Christ became that too so the adulterer may see the Father.

The examples are nearly endless, but that is the power of the infinite grace of God Who loves each of us, but Whose wrath abides on us and awaits us until we truly agree we are sinners and fully accept Christ, His remedy for sinning and the only remedy for sinning. He became sin. That is really stooping.

II. Mightily Saving 35f

“. . .  to make me great."

Hopefully you can readily see that just as the first part of 2 Corinthians 5:21 matches the first part of the last section of Psalm 18:35 “Your gentleness / your condescension / you stooped,” the last part of the Corinthian verse (“that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”) matches the last portion of verse 35 (“has made me great / exalts me / make me great”) . This truth (“has made me great / exalts me / make me great”) is expressed in Psalm 18 in the following ways.

Verse 35a-b, which is “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation . . . ,” should be considered the foundation of His saving work of our sake, His stooping down for us. While to a degree it can be thought that this shield of salvation protects us from the attacks of the devil, it primarily points to the fact that the finished work of Christ upon the cross shields us from the wrath of the Father which we so rightfully deserve. This is part of grace. 

More of His grace is seen in 35 c-d, “. . . and Your right hand has held me up, . . . ," which indicates the tender work of God in our lives as we grow in Him. Though we are declared just and righteous when we fully surrender to God through Christ, we have much spiritual growing up to do. We have to learn to permit His life to be in charge that we may learn to obey and not sin. If we falter, we can find forgiveness and help in Him (1 John 1:9).

Another picture of the glorious salvation that God offers to all because He condescended is found in verses 16 and 17: “He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. 17  He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.” Those that fully accept His salvation rejoice that they have been rescued from this world system (drew me out of many waters). They have been rescued from the grip of the devil who, of course, is more powerful than any of us.

God condescended. He stooped through Christ, all God and all man, to provide for us a rescue from the wrath of the Father and real life now as well as Eternal Life. Let us stoop to our knees, permitting the Holy Spirit to develop true sorrow within us for our sins. Let us let go of pride and realize we need God, and fully surrender to Him through Christ.

Notes:

{1} http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/condescend

{2} From an electronic version of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong incorporated in the Online Bible program, and so throughout the article whenever the ancient language is referred to and no other authority is cited.

{3} Wilson, William: Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies (MacDonald Publishing Company, McLean, VA) p184

{4} I bring out a little more about “tabernacled among us" in Feast Of Freedom.

{5} http://thesureword.expertscolumn.com/

This article was in the form of a sermon (message) outline with comments. God willing by October 9, 2015 (hopefully much sooner), you should be able to hear the actual message (sermon) by selecting a link at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M378 .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the 1769 Authorized Version with spelling of some words updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates. An * next to the abbreviation for another translation or version indicates the same for the text presented.

Not responsible for any advertisements appearing with this article nor am I necessarily in agreement with any of them. The statements of this paragraph hold true not only for this article, but for everything I have placed on the Internet.



Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit www.sapphirestreams.com.

Last updated on 22-07-2016 126 1

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  • nbillett  28-12-2016
    When we forgive someone who asks for forgiveness, we are not doing that person a favour, nor do we deserve any credit for doing it, we actually free ourselves from some rancor or hatred that is poisoning us.
    reply 0
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