Self-Abasement and Divine Exaltation
1 Peter 5:5-7
Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility…

I. THE KIND OF SUFFERING WHICH THE TEXT REPRESENTS IS THAT FROM WHICH THERE IS NO PRESENT ESCAPE. Peter is not referring to very light suffering — to sorrow, that is here during this moment and that will be gone the next. Incurable sickness — incurable disease in the body, is "the mighty hand of God" on a man. Confirmed weakness or infirmity of the body or mind, is "the mighty hand of God" on a man. Inflexible poverty. Persecution, continued and unavoidable. The hand of God is always upon us, but it is not always equally felt, or upon us in the same form. The hand of God is in all our circumstances. Is it not in persecution, where the hand of man is most evident? "If Shimei curse, let him curse, for God hath sent him." Unless it were better for you to be persecuted for your religion's sake, God would not permit you to be persecuted. Your wisdom is cheerfully to submit.

II. The text prescribes our BEHAVIOUR IN SUFFERING, AND SUGGESTS THE STRONGEST MOTIVES FOR THE ADOPTION AND PURSUIT OF SUCH CONDUCT. Do you notice how in Bible teaching God deals with us as wise parents treat little children? Good parents direct little children about everything, for they need such direction. Recognise this, and instead of seeking to have your own way about anything, try to find out God's way, and follow that way by the leading of the Saviour and by the grace of the Holy Ghost. There is a kind of submission which we cannot avoid. If God put His "mighty hand" upon us, intending to keep us under it, we know of a surety that we cannot escape. But with this inevitable submission there may be great pride of heart, expressing itself in murmuring and unholy rebellion; expressing itself in sinful efforts to get away from the suffering and in a determination not to realise it, and not to be thoroughly loyal in our thoughts and feelings as to our circumstances. A contrary behaviour is prescribed here. We are required to be still, silent. Aaron held his peace. Humility is that chastened emotion which we feel when conscious of our inferiority, our sinfulness, our weakness, our poverty, our helplessness, and our nothingness. Many motives might be suggested.

1. There is one motive springing from the words, "the hand of God." That sorrow from which I cannot escape is a "hand." It is not a chance, it is not an accident, there is a "hand" in it. It is connected with thought, feeling, purpose, plan, intention, wisdom.

2. "The hand of God, the mighty hand." "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." God has a good intent in your depression. He is intent upon exalting you. His love for you involves this. His sending His Spirit to take possession of your nature, to regenerate and sanctify and enlighten, shows that He desires to exalt you. Already, so far as character is concerned, God has lifted you up. But His aim is to exalt your entire humanity, to lift it up in all its states, and in all conditions. And God is making all things work together for this. God desires to exalt, and the exalting must be with Him. It must not be your attempt, your effort.

3. For this exaltation there is a season of which God can only judge. There is a "due time." This lifting up is never too soon. There is a season for it, and that season is in the soul. The advent of the exaltation is, without doubt, dependent on our self-humiliation. You must mourn, to have your sorrow turned into joy.

4. Some men are ashamed of suffering. That is very much like being ashamed of Christ. Oh, what a change in men's notions and feelings would be effected if the poverty of Joseph the carpenter's son were more before them, and if they lived more as in His presence and under His eye. "The mighty hand of God," is on some of you. Is there not a cause? May not that cause be in certain faults and defects?

(S. Martin.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

WEB: Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

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