Under the Mighty Hand of God (1 Peter 5:6-8)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, ⁷casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ⁸Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. —1 Peter 5:6-8
Right before this passage we have an admonition to the elders of the church on how they are to shepherd those in their flock. In verse five the focus changes to those who are to be subject to the elders. Then a final word that all of us—shepherds, flock, elders—are to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another. Imagine for a moment a church that is made up of believers that are completely clothed with humility toward one another. Wouldn’t that be a picture of love in action?
Here in verse six we are told again to humble ourselves. In other words, don’t act out of sinful pride, selfishness, or desires to take advantage of others for our gain. That is what humility is not. To be humble is to have a low view of ourselves compared to others. To show deference—humble submission and respect. This passage says we are to choose to be humble in our attitudes (it starts in the heart), in our words (including our tone), and in our actions (looking out for others first). These actions will be evident in our obedience, our pleasant spirit, and our submission to our leaders.
Humility is the great preserver of peace and order in the body of Christ, in our communities, and in our families. This humble living is all done recognizing that we are under the mighty hand of God. God is our Chief Shepherd. The one who rules our lives. Who gives us the grace and power to live a life of humility. “God will give to us as we humble ourselves, more grace, more wisdom, faith, holiness and humility” (Matthew Henry).
Stop and think. If we believe we are under the mighty hand of God, we would be quick to be quiet before Him and recognize our position in relation to Him. And with that picture in our hearts and understanding in our minds, it wouldn’t be that hard to humble ourselves before others. Matthew Henry says, “Humbling ourselves to God under his hand is the next way to deliverance and exaltation; patience under his chastisements, and submission to his pleasures, repentance, prayer and hope in his mercy, will engage his help and release in due time.”
Will God exalt you if you humble yourself in this way? He may. He may not. He is sovereign and knows what’s best. The promise we have here is not that God will exalt us, the promise is of His care. He cares for you (v. 7).
Humble yourself under the hand of this Mighty God. When you do you are free and relieved. You can now joyfully cast all your anxieties on Him, because you know He cares for you. We can trust our God who is over all things. He is wise and understands everything. He knows our hearts and we can be confident that everything we cast (throw) on Him, He is able to remove, solve, or change. He wants to relieve us of things that can bring our souls down. All our anxieties, our personal cares, family cares, cares for others we love, cares for the present and the future, cares for the church, for other believers or the non-believer, we can take to this mighty-handed God. Why? Because of His power and might? Because He can do anything? No. Because He cares for you. His tender-hearted compassion and love for us moves Him to assure us that He is ever faithful to His promises, that He loves us and will care for us.
And now in verse eight, after a confirmation of His care and His desire and will to act on our behalf, God is gracious to warn us about what will drive us away from Him: the Devil. "Be sober-minded; be watchful," in other words we must be vigilant; we must not be careless or unaware. There is danger around. There is an "adversary the devil who is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Our enemy has a plan. His purpose is to bring destruction into our lives, to devour us, to destroy our faith and our witness.
Why would Peter mention the enemy here? The enemy’s downfall was the sin of pride. He placed himself, in his attitude, words, and actions over the mighty hand of God. This could be our downfall, too. If we refuse to humble ourselves, if we do not acknowledge our place under God’s mighty hand, if we listen to the enemy, if we give in to his temptations to raise ourselves above those over us—whether God or man—we will be devoured. Will you be that someone he will devour? Consider Peter’s affirmation and admonition and choose to humble yourself, casting all your cares on God so His sovereignty and love will preserve your life.
What does it look like to humble yourself?
Why can we know that it’s safe to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand?
How do we humble ourselves under leaders in the church who we feel are making wrong decisions?
Share a time when the enemy tempted you to be prideful. How did that turn out for you and those around you?
What do you think you need to do to be ready for the attacks of the enemy? (Consider other Scripture passages as well as this one.)
Ron Rudd is a member of Truth78's board of directors. Currently the family discipleship and men's ministry pastor at the Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa, Ontario, he previously served for over 17 years as the Children's Ministry Pastor. Ron and his wife Ann have been married since 1978 and God has blessed them with 10 children (six biological and four adopted) as well as eight grandchildren. He loves to see parents understanding their high and holy calling to raise a godly generation.