Humility For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the Spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” -Isaiah 57:15
- says (to declare)
- exalted (to be lifted up, praised and elevated; extolled)
- lives (to reside; a permanent stay)
- forever (perpetuity; eternity; eternal existence)
- Holy (God’s name is holy, sacred and pure)
- dwell (to reside permanently)
- contrite (bruised; humbled; broken; discouraged)
- spirit (air for breathing; soul)
- revive (to live anew; to recover)
- contrite (the “to be” form of contrite (above). Indicates God as the causing agent)
Has anyone ever promised to do something for you or be with you always only to turn back on that promise? Broken promises are powerful. They can leave some people with so much hurt and regret that their entire lives remain suspended in that moment of grief. And suddenly that broken promise becomes the idol, the very thing which keeps someone from knowing God. They simply cannot recover and ultimately choose a life of misery. Very often these people blame God for their misery and they feel that if God really loved them He would not allow this thing to happen. Then God is put in a box of their own making. He is no longer God but a mere figment of something that doesn’t exist.
In this verse we see a solid promise, but before Isaiah delivers the promise of God, he establishes God’s credibility as the Promise-Giver. He calls God high and exalted: to be lifted up, praised and elevated above all. I think sometimes we allow ourselves to be shattered by broken promises because we have put people on a high and lofty place. We mistakenly put them in the place where only God can exist. And while Christ tells us to consider others better than ourselves, He clearly does not say that they should be pedestal dwellers. Only God has the authority and credibility to be in this high place.
Isaiah then reminds us that God will never leave us, that He exists eternally. People simply cannot make this kind of infinite promise. Either by separation or death, there is a point where we are either sinners, mortals, or imperfect. And while some promises are never meant to be broken, there are some which were never meant for mortal man to make. There is a feeling of stability in this promise from God, and something which we can wholly trust.
Finally, he establishes God’s character as the only one who is sacred and pure, giving us a sense of peace, a sense of knowing that God will stand behind his Word. How refreshing! This is the place where our souls are healed, where we will find peace in any circumstance. By this truth we are made whole and filled with both assurance and expectation.
Then God speaks. He tells Isaiah that He resides in His holy place forever and permanently. He will not be thwarted. This gives Him the authority and credibility to be our King who ultimately rules over all things. We realize by these very words that we are the lowly ones, we are contrite. We have no place in His kingdom outside His very mercy and grace.
Finally, God casts His gaze on the lowly and contrite. He sees the humble sinner, the bruised child. He sees us. But instead of turning away in judgment, he looks upon us with such sweet loving-kindness and compassion. Here, he unites the divided line of Kingship and Kingdom, of high and low, of heaven and earth. He looks upon His children and promises that He will never leave us. But not only will He never leave, He is also the Reviver of hearts! He stands ready to cherish and heal, to come close and lift up. We can choose to remain tormented by a myriad of broken promises by imperfect man, or we can choose to relinquish our pride, release people from their sins and wrongs against us through a forgiving spirit, and cling to God’s pure and holy promises which are never broken. The key is humility. The choice is ours.