Psalm 138:6

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 6. Though the Lord be high. In greatness, dignity, and power, Jehovah is higher than the highest. His nature is high above the comprehension of his creatures, and his glory even exceeds the loftiest soarings of imagination.

Yet hath he respect unto the lowly. He views them with pleasure, thinks of them with care, listens to their prayers, and protects them from evil. Because they think little of themselves he thinks much of them. They reverence him, and he respects them. They are low in their own esteem, and he makes them high in his esteem.

But the proud he knoweth afar off. He does not need to come near them in order to discover their utter vanity: a glance from afar reveals to him their emptiness and offensiveness. He has no fellowship with them, but views them from a distance; he is not deceived, but knows the truth about them, despite their blustering; he has no respect unto them, but utterly abhors them. To a Cain's sacrifice, a Pharaoh's promise, a Rabshakeh's threat, and a Pharisee's prayer, the Lord has no respect. Nebuchadnezzar, when far off from God, cried, "Behold this great Babylon which I have builded"; but the Lord knew him, and sent him grazing with cattle. Proud men boast loudly of their culture and "the freedom of thought", and even dare to criticize their Maker: but he knows them from afar, and will keep them at arm's length in this life, and shut them up in hell in the next.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 6. Though the LORD be high. We have here God's transcendent greatness; he is the high Lord, or Jehovah: he is "the high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity, and who dwells in the high and lofty place, to which no man can approach." Who can think or speak of his highness in a suitable manner? It dazzles the eyes of sinful mortal worms to behold "the place where his honour dwells." Oh how infinite is the distance between him and us! "There are none of the sons of the mighty that can be compared unto him"; yea, "the inhabitants of the earth are before him but as the drop in the bucket, and the small dust in the balance." He is not only "high" above men, but above angels: cherubims and seraphims are his ministering spirits. He is "high" above the heavens; for "the heaven, yea, the heaven of heavens cannot contain him"; and he "humbleth himself" when "he beholds things that are in heaven." Oh, sirs, study to entertain high and admiring thoughts and apprehensions of the glorious majesty of God; for "honour and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary." -- Ebenezer Erskine.

Verse 6. The LORD hath respect unto the lowly. God has such a respect unto the lowly, not as if this frame of soul were meritorious of any good at his hand, but because,

  1. This is a disposition that best serves God's great design of lifting up and glorifying his free grace. What think you, sirs, was God's design in election, in redemption, in the whole of the gospel dispensation, and in all the ordinances thereof? His grand design in all was to rear up a glorious high throne, from which he might display the riches of his free and sovereign grace; this is that which he will have magnified through eternity above all his other name. Now, this lowliness and humility of spirit suits best unto God's design of exalting the freedom of his grace. It is not the legalist, or proud Pharisee, but the poor humble publican, who is smiting on his breast, and crying, "God be merciful to me, a sinner", that submits to the revelation of grace.
  2. God has such respect unto the humble soul because it is a fruit of the Spirit inhabiting the soul, and an evidence of the soul's union with the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom alone we are accepted.
  3. This is a disposition that makes the soul like Christ; and the more alike that a person is to Christ, God loves him all the better. We are told that Christ was "meek and lowly"; "he did not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets"; though he was "the brightness of his Father's glory", yet he was content to appear "in the form of a servant"; though he was rich, yet he was content to become poor, that we through his poverty might be rich. Now, the humble soul, being the image of Christ, who is the express image of his Father, God cannot but have a regard unto him. --Ebenezer Erskine.

Verse 6. He hath respect unto the lowly. Give me the homely vessel of humility, which God shall preserve, and fill with the wine of his grace; rather than the varnished cup of pride, which he will dash in pieces, like a potter's vessel. Where humility is the corner stone, there glory shall be the top stone. --William Seeker, in "The Nonsuch Professor in his Meridian Splendour", 1660.

Verse 6. The proud he knoweth afar off. He that meets a spectacle or person which he cannot endure to look upon, avoids it, or turns from it while he is yet afar off; whereas, if the object be delightful, he draweth near and comes as close as he can. When therefore it is said, The Lord knoweth a proud man afar off, it shows his disdain of him: he will scarce touch him with a pair of tongs (as we say); he cannot abide to come near him. He knows well enough how vile he is even at the greatest distance. --Joseph Caryl.

Verse 6. The proud he knoweth afar off. By punishing them in hell. --Richard Rolle, 1340.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 6. Divine inversions.

  1. Lowliness honoured to its great surprise.
  2. Pride passed by to its eternal mortification.

--W.B.H.

Read Psalm 138:6