Humble, Contrite, and Trembling

At the Lord’s command, Isaiah pronounced woes and condemnations on practically every city, nation, and people on the face of the earth. But he reminded everyone that the horrible events he mentioned would not come upon them if they would repent, turn to God, and serve Him.
Isaiah’s name means “Salvation is of the Lord”, and the prophet stressed the need for salvation to everyone who would hear him. Near the end of his prophecy, we read a summation of all Isaiah’s pleading and God’s response. In a vision Isaiah had seen the Lord’s sanctuary trodden down and His temple burned. This left the prophet and many of the people greatly disturbed and saddened. It seemed that some wanted to restore the sanctuary and rebuild the temple, but God had other plans and new demands.
“Thus says the Lord: Heaven is My home and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist, says the Lord. But on this ONE I will look: On him who is POOR and of a CONTRITE SPIRIT, and who TREMBLES AT MY WORD”. (Is 66:1-2)
HUMBLE, CONTRITE, and TREMBLING are not the goals that most people set for themselves, and not many High School Seniors would list those as their desired future accomplishments in life. But that is exactly what God desires of You, and Me, and All Mankind.
In spite of all the woes and condemnations pronounced, the book of Isaiah is a book about Salvation and our God’s great desire to redeem men and women. In fact, the word “Salvation” appears 26 times in this book and only 7 times in all the other 17 prophets combined. Therefore, in viewing OUR own Salvation, let us consider these three characteristics of the people God said He would Look On and Save.

1-HUMBLE/HUMILITY – “HUMBLE” literally means “low-lying” or “to make low”. Biblically speaking, “HUMILITY” involves self-abasement. The same word used here is also used in Isaiah 40:4 “Let every mountain and hill BE MADE LOW”. The requirement of HUMILITY begins with a sense of SUBORDINATION and SUBMISSION to God in Christ. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the HUMBLE. Therefore HUMBLE Yourselves before the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time”. (I Pet 5:5b-6). The concepts of GRACE, SUBMISSION, and HUMILITY are linked together in (James 4:6-7a). “But He gives more GRACE. Therefore He says, ‘God resists the proud, but gives GRACE to the HUMBLE. Therefore SUBMIT to God..”
Paul emphatically stressed the importance of HUMILITY in our daily walk with the Lord. “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all HUMILITY and gentleness, with patience showing tolerance for one another in love”. (Eph 4:1-2). Here HUMILITY is connected with the Christian characteristics of worthiness, gentleness, patience, tolerance, and brotherly love.
There is a good example of the importance of HUMILITY in our lives, that we can learn from an Old Testament character. Moses was the leader of God’s people coming out of Egypt, parting the Red Sea for Israel to cross, and for 40 years during the wilderness wanderings. God spoke to the people through him and the Ten Commandments were given to Moses directly from God. Moses knew God face to face; a relationship known by no other living being. All of these things could have led to Moses becoming ARROGANT and PROUD. However Scriptures tell us differently. “Now the man MOSES was VERY HUMBLE, MORE THAN ALL MEN who were on the face of the earth”. (Num 12:3). What a tremendous compliment in Scripture and what a lofty position!

2- CONTRITE – In Scripture the word “CONTRITE” means: “Shattered, Downtrodden, Crushed, or Broken” and originally meant “to wear out by grinding”. It is easy to see the correlation between all these definitions. The idea of a CONTRITE spirit which God desired in Isaiah 66 is a picture of an individual who is broken, shattered, and crushed due to sin. The psalmist David certainly understood the meaning and the importance of this personal feeling. “The righteousness cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a BROKEN heart, and saves such as have a CONTRITE spirit”. (Ps 34:17-18). And “For you do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a BROKEN spirit . A BROKEN and CONTRITE heart – These, O God, You will not despise”. (Ps 51:16-17). Other passages demonstrate the link between a CONTRITE attitude and HUMILITY: “For thus says the High and Lofty One, Who inhabits eternity, Whose name is Holy. I dwell in the high and holy place with him who has a CONTRITE and HUMBLE spirit, to receive the spirit of the HUMBLE and to revive the heart of the CONTRITE ones”. (Is 57:15). Truly being CONTRITE means you are not concerned with your SELF ESTEEM, only with REPENTENCE from the HEART.

3- TREMBLING – In the Bible the term “TREMBLE” means : To Shake, Quake, Quiver, Shudder or be Affrighted. FEAR is always associated with TREMBLING as seen in Psalm 2:10-11. “Now therefore, be wise O kings. Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with FEAR, and rejoice with TREMBLING”. In the Old Testament it was not only faithful followers of the Lord that saw the need to TREMBLE before Him but others who witnessed His power and might came to the same conclusion. When King Darius saw God deliver Daniel unharmed from the den of hungry lions, he was moved to write these words: “I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom, men must TREMBLE and FEAR before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and steadfast forever. His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end”. (Dan 6:26).
Isaiah understood that when Israel or any other nation truly TREMBLED before Jehovah God, they HUMBLED themselves and could be moved to repentance. “Oh that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might SHAKE at Your presence; as the fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil; To make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may TREMBLE at Your presence.” (Is 64:1-2). The Psalmist adds a different perspective to the concept of TREMBLING before the Lord. “The Lord REIGNS; Let the peoples TREMBLE! He dwells between the cherubim; Let the earth be moved! The Lord is great in Zion and He is HIGH above all the peoples. Let them praise your GREAT and AWESOME name – He is HOLY. (Ps 99:1-3).
Summarizing: When we consider our weaknesses and our tendency to fail, as opposed to Almighty God’s Incredible Attributes plus His Love and Mercy toward us; We OUGHT to HUMBLE ourselves, and with a CONTRITE Heart, TREMBLE before HIM.

Jesus Savior, HUMBLE Me
(Sung to the tune of “Jesus Savior, Pilot Me)
“Jesus Savior, HUMBLE me. Help me learn it’s never me.
Let me strive with all my might, and keep my broken heart CONTRITE.
As I seek my Lord Divine, May my light more brightly shine.
Jesus Savior, HUMBLE me. Less of me and more of Thee.
As You lead me in Your way, Help me TREMBLE while I pray.
To You my Lord, all praises be, Jesus Savior, HUMBLE me.
Jesus Savior, Humble me. May I always look to Thee.
My reward I’ll never earn. For Your Image, may I yearn.
When at last I’m by Your side; Grace has overcome my pride”.