1 OF DAVID
I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.
4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
5 and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
You stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
The Condescension of Jesus
Condescension tends to be thought of in negative terms. We accuse people of being condescending when they offer unsolicited advice trying to show off their superiority.
However, to condescend means to give way, to defer to someone else, especially when the person deferring is in a higher position than others. Imagine that you’re a high school basketball player but were invited to play on a team with LeBron James. It’s the fourth quarter, there are ten seconds left on the clock, and your team is down by one point. You’re racing down the court, LeBron is dribbling the ball down and you know he’s got it. Instead, LeBron passes the ball to you! LeBron James defers to you to make the winning shot instead of himself. You don’t believe it! (Of course you make it and it’s an epic win.)
When it comes to the Lord, we can understand His condescension is not negative at all. In Psalm 138, verse 6, the psalmist writes, “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly.” Jesus has all power and authority in heaven and on earth. Yet, what does He do with His power and superiority? He takes the form of a human, comes as a baby no less! Babies are entirely dependent on other humans to take care of them.
The image that comes to my mind is the cartoon version of Aladdin when the Genie explains his living quarters. He ascends to space and says, “Phenomenal cosmic power!” and then shrinks into his genie lamp, and says, “itty bitty living space.” The difference is Jesus, unlike the Genie, chose that outcome, and continues to care for the lowly. Jesus regards the outcasts of society. He spends time with tax collectors and sinners.
The condescension of Jesus is staggering. He not only regards the lowly, but He becomes one of the lowly. He humbles Himself in becoming human. Then, this eternal Jesus with phenomenal, cosmic power humbles Himself to the point of death. And not just any death, but a shameful, criminal’s death He did not deserve.
Yet, in the midst of all the condescension and humility, Jesus is exalted. As verse two says, “for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.” Jesus is risen from the dead, and it is at the name of Jesus that every knee shall bow. The Word and Name of Jesus will cause all the kings of the earth to give thanks and sing.
Unlike the fantasy about a basketball game with LeBron James, God is real. And despite the perfect nature of our perfect God, God condescends to be present in our lives despite our sinfulness. In verse 7, we see “though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.”
- What is one way you can show humility this week?
Jesus, thank you for humbling Yourself in coming to earth and dying for our sins. Help us to show humility as we love our neighbors. Amen.
Search your Bible app for where the word “humility” is used in the Bible.