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Bible verses about Lowliness
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 23:27-32

The focus in these verses is on the spirit or attitude in which we keep Atonement. Considering verse 29, doing things right on this day is a serious responsibility. For religious Jews, this is the most solemn day of the year.

Three times in this short span of verses God commands us to afflict our souls or be afflicted. Many think that "fast" is derived from the same word as "afflict," but such is not the case. They are not cognate; in the Hebrew they have no etymological connection. They are two different words with distinctly different roots. God probably uses these different words to emphasize the attitude one should have during a fast, rather than the act itself, because it is entirely possible for a person to fast for a day and not be in the right attitude. However, when done properly, fasting can very greatly enhance the lesson of this holy day.

"Fast" is derived from a word meaning "to cover the mouth," implying that no nourishment gets past it into the body.

"Afflict," anah, is an intriguing word, giving us great insight into how God intends us to use this day. According to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, its primary meaning is "to force or try to force into submission," "to punish or inflict pain upon." When used in contexts involving attitude, it means "to find oneself in a stunted, humble, lowly position; cowed." It is used to describe what one does to an enemy (Numbers 24:24), what Sarah inflicted on Hagar (Genesis 16:6), and what the lawless do to the weak (Exodus 22:22). It is used of the pain inflicted on Joseph's ankles by his chains (Psalm 105:18). Moses describes Egypt's treatment of Israel with this word (Exodus 1:11-12), and in this case, it implies more than the emotional pain of slavery but something that hurt physically. Thus, in Strong's Concordance, the author uses such forceful and painful words as "browbeat," "deal hardly with," "defile," "force," "hurt," and "ravish" to describe it. Anah is a strong, forceful word.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Psalm 138:6

This verse brings out an interesting contrast between God and man. God's reaction to the proud is exactly the opposite: He disdains, or He scorns, them. Whereas the proud scorns the lowly—the inferior, as he reckons them—God scorns the proud and accepts the lowly. He accepts the one that the proud rejects. God unites with the low person by giving him grace, but the proud puts down, rejects, and disunites the one he scorns.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Proverbs 8:13

The four examples of evil in Proverbs 8:13, which always end up doing harm, were manifested in Satan, and all of his children continue to exhibit them (see John 8:38, 41, 44). A progression is shown: Pride and arrogance are conditions of the heart, which is where it all starts. Where there is pride in the heart, it will come out in "the evil way," that is in action.

Evil also emerges in words, though it may not always be obvious. Jesus cautions in Matthew 12:34, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." When evil resides in the heart, it will be exposed in perverse speech, language contrary to the truth of God and to love. James 3:8 declares that "no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." He also says, "If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man" (James 3:2). We can only reach that perfection with God's intervention and help, which, thankfully, we have.

The apostle Paul essentially says that the foundation of good works—particularly within the church of God—is humility or lowliness:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

However, if works are done with pride or arrogance, or for the sake of appearance rather than truth and righteousness, they will cause harm. They may also produce some good, but the account of the Two Trees in the Garden of Eden teaches that, in the context of eternity, a mixture of good and evil is really only evil.

David C. Grabbe
Hating Evil, Fearing God


 

Matthew 5:3

Arthur W. Pink, in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, writes, "Poverty of spirit may be termed the negative side of faith" (p. 17). Similarly, Charles H. Spurgeon, a Protestant preacher of the nineteenth century, comments, "The way to rise in the kingdom is to sink in ourselves" (The Gospel of the Kingdom, p. 21). It is this realization of our utter unworthiness, a sense of spiritual need and destitution, that drives us to seek Christ to lift it. The economically poor gravitate to where they can have their needs met. Recognizing one's spiritual poverty parallels this, motivating us to seek to have that need supplied through a relationship with God. Poor in spirit, therefore, describes a fundamental trait found in every son of God who earnestly seeks Him.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:29, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." This is how to cultivate this God-honoring attitude. We must do this because, while merely feeling lowly before God is insufficient, it nevertheless opens the doors to the awesome beneficence only God can give and indeed yearns to give. He says in Isaiah 66:2: "'For all these things [in creation] My hand has made, and all those things exist,' says the LORD. 'But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.'"

Poor in spirit is one thing, contrition is another, and humility is yet a third quality. They are all related, but they are not specifically the same attitude. To be contrite is to be sorry or remorseful because of guilt, equating to "Blessed are those who mourn" in Matthew 5:4. Humility is more active than either of the other two, involving consciously choosing submission in obedience. It equates more with "Blessed are the meek" in Matthew 5:5. Poverty of spirit, then, precedes contrition, remorse, humility, and meekness because it is a major factor involved in producing them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Two: Poor in Spirit


 

Matthew 11:29

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus links meekness with lowliness: "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek, KJV] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Ephesians 4:1-3 states:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness [meekness, KJV], with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The King James version is correct, as the Greek text uses prautes. "Gentle" and "gentleness" are incorrect because in this context they are only an aspect of the meekness we should express in our dealings with others.

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus is explaining why we should embrace His way of life. As our Lord and Master, He is not harsh, overbearing, and oppressive, but gentle in His government. His laws are also reasonable and easy to obey; neither He nor they enslave. He emphasizes the gentle aspect of meekness toward others. From this, we begin to see why meekness must be a virtue of those who will receive the Kingdom and govern. Because God governs in meekness, His children must also.

Ephesians 4 teaches how to build and maintain unity within a more social context, and here, prautes appears with humility, patience, forbearance, and love. Paul demands that, for unity to be built and maintained, we should receive offenses without retaliation, bearing them patiently without a desire for revenge. We are, in short, to have a forgiving spirit. Without it, we will surely promote divisiveness.

The association of humility and meekness is natural, and is yet another facet of meekness. Whereas humility deals with a correct assessment of his merits, meekness covers a correct assessment of personal rights. This does not in any way mean a lowering of the standards of justice or of right and wrong. Meekness can be accompanied by a war to the death against evil, but the meek Christian directs this warfare first against the evil in his own heart. He is a repentant sinner, and his recognition of this state radically alters his relations with fellow man. A sinner forgiven must have a forgiving attitude.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Meekness


 

Matthew 11:29

Both "lowly" and "gentle" imply nonresistance, suggesting someone who is submissive, yielding, and long-suffering in contrast to an assertive, aggressive, arrogant, obstinate, and haughty person.

He goes even further, however, to describe His approach to God. David, a type of Christ, writes in Psalm 22:6, "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." God uses animals and insects to describe human traits. A worm is not only lowly but it also has no power to resist anything. Because Jesus never resisted God, He could honestly say, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me" (John 4:34). Those who, without murmuring, subject themselves to the will of God benefit from His almighty rule over all.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sovereignty and Its Fruit: Part Ten


 

Matthew 20:25-28

Meekness, a tolerant, yielding spirit, represents having the right of way but not insisting on it. Jesus Christ sets the tone of this approach in His discussion with the sons of Zebedee and the other disciples. Many have looked upon meekness, lowliness of spirit, or the willingness to yield, with suspicion and perhaps even loathing. Meekness—or its common perception—may seem too much like weakness, wimpiness, or timidity.

Some have taken Matthew 7:29 out of context to sanction a pompous, brittle, authoritarian approach, stating Jesus "taught . . . as one who had authority, and not as the scribes." Such people assume that this gives license to higher decibels and dogmatic manhandling of the audience, but they seriously misunderstand its intended meaning. Jesus could speak with authority because He possessed an unlimited reservoir of experience. He personified the Word of God, while the scribes and Pharisees could only quibble about the bits and pieces they had studied. Even though Jesus spoke with authority, the Gospels show His manner to be peaceable and yielding in most situations.

David F. Maas
Servant Leadership: Practical Meekness


 

Romans 12:3

Paul admonishes us not to esteem ourselves too much, an attitude that leads to vanity and arrogance.

Yet, is that not what is being pushed in our society today? A central premise in education and childrearing is instilling self-esteem in our youth, supposedly to give them confidence and motivation to succeed in life. There is no surer method to produce competition and strife! The Word of God, on the other hand, teaches us:

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself (Philippians 2:3).

This latter attitude produces peace, cooperation, and unity.

Martin G. Collins
Celebrating Birthdays


 

Ephesians 4:2

The overall instruction here has to do with keeping the unity of the faith. Paul names four characteristics of conduct that are "attractively adorning" in two sets of two. The first two go together closely like bread and butter, and the second two go together. All four of them are linked, but the traits within the two pairs are most closely related to each other.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 6): Ephesians 4 (C)


 

Ephesians 4:2

With all means "with every possible lowliness," "with every kind of lowliness," or "in all situations," or "at all times." In other words, always wear the apron of humility wherever one is, whatever one is doing, whoever one is dealing with, whatever the time happens to be. We should never be without it because it will serve us and God and unity well. It will never divide; it will always cement and hold the group, the family, the community together.

This is to be a fundamental element of our character. We may feel we have something to be proud of. For some, it might be money or ancestry or family. It might be brains, looks, athletic ability, or in the church, our understanding of doctrine. We have to be careful because human nature is always looking for a way to assert what it is proud of and to display it, and this causes division.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 7): Ephesians 4 (D)


 

 




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