Psalm 136:1, 23-24 - Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever ... It is He who remembered us in our low estate, for His steadfast love endures forever; and rescued us from our foes, for His steadfast love endures forever.
The psalmist remembers Israel's humble estate as he celebrates the way in which God rescued His people. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, God set them free with mighty acts of power. He parted the waters and "overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea," leading Israel to the Promised Land (Psalm 136:15a). Why had God done all of this? He rescued His people because of His goodness and steadfast love, because of His ancient covenant with Abraham.
When the time came for that covenant to be fulfilled, Mary, a humble virgin of Nazareth, was called to be the mother of God's Son, the promised Messiah. Like the psalmist before her, Mary rejoiced in the steadfast love of God, who "brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate" (Luke 1:52b). The promised Messiah, Jesus our Savior, was born in lowly circumstances, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. To rescue us from our enemies, Jesus "humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8b). He was raised to life in triumph, rescuing us from our foes of sin, death, and the devil, as God the Father "highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name" (Philippians 2:9b).
In sinful pride, we often want to exalt ourselves, thinking of ourselves more highly than we regard others. That is the way of the world, but it is not the way of the kingdom of our Lord. As the apostle Peter writes (and he had some personal experience with pride and humility): "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you" (1 Peter 5:5b-6).
The humility and exaltation of Jesus shaped our rescue from sin. Now our lives in Christ Jesus are shaped by the exaltation of God's grace and forgiveness and our response of loving, humble service to others. The apostle Paul tells us, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). God remembered our low estate. He looked on us with favor and rescued us from our enemies. Now we follow in humble gratitude. Why? For He is good and His steadfast love endures forever!
WE PRAY: Lord God, help me to serve others because, in Your steadfast love, You remembered and rescued me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. True humility is rare in humans. How does Jesus' humility give us a prime example to live by?
2. Why do you think Jesus was born in such a lowly state and not as a member of some royal family?
3. When you praise God, do you ever think about His mighty acts of power in the Old Testament?
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