You have also given me the shield of your salvation: and your right hand has held me up, and your gentleness has made me great.
We often hear of what are called self-made men; but here is something nobler by far - a God-made man. "Thy gentleness hath made me great." We learn from this text that -
I. MAN IS CAPABLE OF GREATNESS. At first, man was made great, for he was made in the image of God. But he sinned and fell. Still, the capacity remained. Hence there was misery. Ambition wrongly directed became a bane. Powers and cravings that rose above earthly things left the heart unsatisfied. To be great, man must be raised from his fallen state, and renewed in the spirit of his mind. Love is the spirit of greatness; service is its test, and power with man is its proof. He is the greatest who serves his brethren best in love.
II. THAT GOD IS ABLE TO MAKE MAN GREAT. It has been said that "some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them;" but this is a low and false view of greatness. It is of the earth, earthy. True greatness does not come from without, but from within; it is not a thing of circumstances, but of character; it does not depend upon the will of other men, but upon the spirit that dwelleth in us. We must be great in heart before we can be great in life. When God would make a man great, he not only gives him the right spirit, but submits him to a process of education and discipline. God has already made many great. Think of the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs, and the exceeding great multitude of the saints of every kindred and tongue; all these would acknowledge, with glad and grateful hearts, that they owed everything to God. Their confession would be, "We are his workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10; Revelation 4:10).
III. GOD MAKES MEN GREAT BY HIS GENTLENESS. Force may overcome force, but it cannot win the heart. If we are dealt with in the way of terror and wrath, our tendency will be to resistance, a version, and alienation. Severity may be, at times, necessary, but it is not severity but love that conquers. Mark God's gentleness:
1. In his manifestation of himself in Christ.
2. In the love of the Spirit in the Word.
3. In the gracious discipline of Providence.
We have in the life of David a beautiful example of the way in which God makes a man great. In the Gospels we have the true doctrine as to greatness (Matthew 20:26), and illustrative facts of the most convincing kind. See how Matthew was called; how Zacchseus was raised to a nobler life; how Peter and the rest of the apostles were trained to humble and loving service in behalf of their fellow-men. These, and such as these, will be hailed as truly great men when kings and conquerors, and all the "laurelled Barabbases of history," who have lived only for themselves, are forgotten. - W.F.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.