(31) For who is God apart from Yahweh? And who is a rock except our God? (32) It is God who girds me with strength, and makes the way before me safe. (33) He causes my feet to be like those of a deer and enables me to stand on high places. (34) He trains my hands for battle so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. (35) You have given me the shield of your salvation. Your right hand sustained me. Your condescension has made me great. (36) You have enlarged my steps (path) under me so that my feet did not slip.
Each verse in this segment either refers to God by name (four times in vss. 31 & 32), speaks of what he has done for us (vss. 32-34), or addresses him directly (vss. 35 & 36). Two rhetorical questions open this section to emphasize that Yahweh is fully worthy of our trust (vs. 31). The rest of the segment provides several reasons why we can confidently rely on him. He strengthens us, trains us for battle, shields and protects us, and prepares the way before us. Note how physical this segment is. David mentions bodily strength (vs. 32), his feet (twice in vss. 33 & 36), as well as his hands and arms (vs. 34).
I. Who God is for us: our source of security (31)
II. What God does for us: (32-36)
- gives us strength (32)
- keeps our feet from slipping (33)
- trains and strengthens us for battle (34)
- protects and sustains us (35)
- makes our paths safe and secure (36)
Because Yahweh, our rock, equips us for battle and protects us from harm, he is worthy of our complete trust.
The statement, “Your condescension has made me great," deserves more consideration (vs. 35). At first glance these words might appear confusing. Literally, the Hebrew reads, “Your humility has enlarged me.” Translators have used terms like “gentleness” and “made me great” to soften the impact of the original. How can we speak of “humility” when it comes to our almighty, eternal God?
By examining the significance of Messiah’s first coming we begin to unravel the meaning of this difficult phrase. In the “kenosis” passage (Phil. 2:5-11), Paul spoke of Jesus humbling himself and becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Theologians use the term “condescension” to refer to the amazing truth that the eternal Son of God stooped low in his incarnation to enter time and take on flesh, becoming one of us, sharing in our frail humanity. While Jesus giving up his glory and dying for our sins on a cross represents the ultimate in humility, we see the same attitude expressed throughout the Old Testament whenever we read of Yahweh stooping low to involve himself with his covenant people, meeting their needs, helping them in their weakness and rebellion.
In graciously accommodating himself to our finite humanity, our great and glorious God lifts us up, makes us strong, and gives our lives meaning. What a wonderful sovereign we serve and love, one who humbled himself so that we might forever enter into the fellowship of the Trinity! His condescension has truly made us great, greater than we dare to imagine.