Has the grace of God lifted you up from the pit of sin?
Psalm 119:17-24 ~ Gimel
Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, who are cursed and who stray from your commands. Remove from me scorn and contempt, and I will keep your statutes. Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors (NIV).
Psalm 119 is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet, with these eight verses devoted to the third letter, gimel.
In Hebrew culture, every letter of the aleph-bet has an actual meaning, based on the pictograph for that letter and the root words associated with it. Jewish children are taught these meanings as they learn their letters. Gimel has a couple of meanings, but I believe they are related.
The pictograph is a camel, which kneels low to receive its rider and then rises to lift up the one upon it. The classic letter itself looks like a man walking forward, facing the next Hebrew letter, dalet. Dalet can mean “poor” or “impoverished,” so traditionally gimel has represented a rich man bowing low to lift up a poor man.
What an amazing picture of what God has done for us! He is the rich man, lifting us out of our poor estate and raising us up by His grace.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2).
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap (Psalm 113:7).
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:10).
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6).
There is a beautiful connection here between our low estate and His lifting us up. We are the poor and needy without Christ. We are destitute, hopeless, helpless, like sheep without a Shepherd, until Jesus comes and rescues us from the mud and mire of sin. We have to come humbly to the Lord, agreeing with Him about our sin, and then out of His great mercy, He lifts us up and gives us a firm place to stand. Hallelujah!
I don’t know about you, but that is enough to make me want to sing all day!
Now the question is, will we be like the gimel, the running man, and will we run after the things of God? Will we extend grace to the needy around us? That is what a Hebrew child would have been taught about this letter.
The root word that gimel comes from is “gamal,” which means “to deal out, to give, or wean.” As believers, we have been dealt grace, time and time again. Now what will we give out to others?
We are free to choose what we will chase. Look at the Psalm passage again. The Psalmist knows the value of running after the Word of God. He asks God to do good to him – to show him grace. And he prays that God will open his eyes to the wonderful truths of Scripture.
The more we chase after the things of God, the more grace we will bestow on others. That’s just the way it works.
So, let’s be generous with grace today, even if they don’t deserve it.
Neither do we.