Sunday, June 26, 2022

God Exalts and Abases (Psalm 75)

"But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another" (Psalm 75:7).

All Christians can testify to the joy they feel when they hear someone who has gained great success attribute his achievements to the power of God: the runner who bows in prayer after winning a difficult race; the golfer who gives God the credit for his victory; the businessman who testifies that God gave him the abilities and opportunities to achieve success. Testimonies like these direct us toward the sovereign providence of God, reminding us that it is God who exalts men and God who abases them. Unbelievers attribute their victories and successes to chance or their own abilities. Believers, however, understand that God directs the affairs of mankind, and as the judge of all creation He decides who is to be raised up and who is to be thrown down.

The writer of Psalm 75 considers God as judge and speaks of His providence in the successes and failures of men: “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” The achievements of men do not occur by chance—people are advanced to their positions by the secret purpose of God that He might do with them what He will. In “casting down one man and elevating another to dignity, God orders the affairs of the human race as seems good in His sight,” Calvin wrote. Many think God impotent in the affairs of men, thus they attribute their successes to their own power, but God can just as easily exalt a man as cast him down. We must then learn from the psalmist to remain content with our own condition, for God has ordered the world according to His judgment; it belongs to Him alone to exalt or to abase those whom He pleases.

Those who believe that God directs the paths of all men will not depend on earthly means, but will look beyond these to God. Therefore, “the godly should submit themselves wholly to God and beware of being lifted up with vain confidence,” Calvin said. We should acknowledge our utter dependence on God in all things and not be swayed by the vain successes of the ungodly, for God has a set purpose for them; we can trust that His ways are just no matter what position we attain.

Read Genesis 45:1–8, 2 Samuel 7:1–16, and 1 Kings 14:1–9. What is the common theme of these passages? What do these passages say about God’s sovereignty in the lives of Joseph, David, and Jeroboam? What does this say about God’s sovereignty in your life? How should knowledge of this truth bring you contentment?