“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped.” [Psalm 18:35 – 36].
For decades this passage has resonated with me; the gentleness of God has attracted me. The context is anything but gentle; the context is warfare and opposition and trial and testing; and yet in the midst of all this David knows the gentleness of Yahweh.
Jesus tells us that He leaves His peace with us; He tells us this on the night of betrayal, on the eve of torture, minutes before His testing in the Garden of Gethsemane, hours before His crucifixion. In the Upper Room Jesus not only tells us that He gives us His peace, He also tells us that He gives us His joy – He tells us these things in anything but what we consider a peaceful and joyful context.
In verse 33 David writes, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places.” God makes David sure footed, David’s steps are enlarged under him. In the Upper Room Jesus is sure footed, in the midst of impending agony and trial He washes the disciples’ feet, including the feet of Judas Iscariot. Jesus committed Himself to the Father, David committed himself to God. Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:19, “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” Paul is sure footed when he writes in 2 Timothy 1:12, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”
As our Father is gentle toward us so are we called to be gentle with others; Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”
As I look back over my life I am thankful for the correction, discipline, and chastisement of our Father; and I am also deeply thankful for His gentleness. Both His chastisement and His gentleness are expressions of His love, both are communicated through His grace and mercy. God is so big and vast and awesome, His is the Almighty One, His power is infinite…and yet as Jesus condescends to wash the feet of His disciples, God condescends toward us with His gentleness; He knows we are fragile and made of dust – the hands of the Almighty are tender with us lest His shatter and crush us – if we will receive it…His gentleness makes us great.
Does our gentleness, in Him, make others great?