The King James Version of the Bible translates First Peter 5:5b as “… be clothed with humility…” Other versions use slightly different terminology but the essence is the same:
MKJV: “Put on humility.”
ERV: “You should all have a humble attitude in dealing with each other.”
ESV: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another.”
GNB: “And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another.”
Webster: “be clothed with humility.”
The essence of these translations is the same, that Christian are to “put on,” or more literally, Christians are to “clothe ourselves,” with humility.
The Bible tells us clearly here that it is our job, to humble ourselves. It is our job to make a decision to be humble. It is expected of us to make the decision to do it, then to do it and continue to do it! The reason, as First Peter 5:5 goes on to say is:
“For God resists proud ones, but He gives grace to the humble.”
Yes, God expects us to be humble and us to choose to be humble. Throughout the Bible there are many reasons for this requirement for humility in His elect, in His people. Here are a few examples:
Exodus 10:3 “… How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?…”
Leviticus 23:32 “… and you shall humble your souls….”
Second Chronicles 7:14 “… if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray…”
Ezra 8:21 “…. so that we might humble ourselves before our God…”
Jeremiah 13:18 “Say to the king and to the queen mother, Humble yourselves…”
Daniel 5:22 “And you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this.”
When we humble ourselves, God tells us that many blessings will flow as a result, and opportunities will open for us. Again there are many examples in the Bible:
2 Kings 22:19 “… because your heart was tender and you have humbled yourself before ….. I have heard you, says Jehovah.”
2 Chronicles 12:7 “And when Jehovah saw that they humbled themselves, the Word of Jehovah came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will give them some deliverance. And My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.”
Ezra 8:21 “…. in order to seek from Him a right way for us and for our little ones, and for all our goods.”
Proverbs 15:33 “The fear of Jehovah is the instruction of wisdom, and before honour is humility.”
Proverbs 22:4 “By humility and the fear of Jehovah are riches and honour and life.”
Proverbs 29:23 “A man’s pride shall bring him low; but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”
Matthew 18:4 “Therefore whoever shall humble himself like this little child, this one is the greater in the kingdom of Heaven.”
Matthew 23:12 “And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he who shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
James 4:6 “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:10 “Be humbled before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
When we humble ourselves, we open ourselves to receive God grace; to be honoured by God; to achieve a way forward and to receive life and riches from God, to be lifted up by God, and much, much more.
To move from the Bible to Dictionary.com we find just what the “humble” means in the secular world:
1. not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful.
2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.: In the presence of so many world-famous writers I felt very humble.
3. low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: of humble origin; a humble home.
4. courteously respectful: In my humble opinion you are wrong.
5. low in height, level, etc.; small in size: a humble member of the galaxy.
6. to lower in condition, importance, or dignity; abase.
7. to destroy the independence, power, or will of.
8. to make meek: to humble one’s heart.
Interestingly the last entry in the list is completely Biblical and open us a whole new set of scriptures as to how Christians are to be humble and meek. As the bible says about the meek:
Psalm 5:9 “The meek He will guide in judgement; and the meek He will teach His way.”
Psalm 37:11 “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the overflowing of peace.”
Psalm 76:9 “… when God arose to judgement, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.”
Psalm 147:6 “Jehovah lifts up the meek; He throws the wicked down to the ground.”
Psalm 149:4 “For Jehovah takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the meek with salvation.”
Isaiah 11:4 “But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and shall decide with uprightness for the meek of the earth. And He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.”
Isaiah 29:19 “And the meek shall increase joy in Jehovah, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”
Zephaniah 2:3 “Seek Jehovah, all the meek of the earth who have done His justice; seek righteousness; seek meekness. It may be you shall be hidden in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”
Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek! For they shall inherit the earth.”
Matthew 21:5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King comes to you, meek, and sitting on an ass, even a colt the foal of an ass.”
1 Peter 3:4 “… but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, the meek and quiet spirit, which is of great price in the sight of God.”
Yes, the majority of the examples are from the Old Testament, but look at the description of Jesus in Matthew 21:5 where He as the Son of God comes into Jerusalem, as “meek,” as humble.
But there is more said about Jesus which we Christians as His followers must know and seek to follow too. Read how the Apostle Paul describes Jesus in Philippians 2:5-8,
“For let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Jesus, even Jesus “humbled Himself.” If God required His only begotten son to humble himself, how much more then, does He require us to humble ourselves?
How do we humble ourselves? The bible provided some answers:
2 Chronicles 34:27 “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before your God when you heard His words against this place and against its people, and humbled yourself before Me, and tore your garments and wept before Me, I have even heard also, says Jehovah.”
Psalm 35:13 “But when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fastings; and my prayer returned into my own bosom.”
Psalm 69:10 “When I humbled my soul with fasting, it turned to my reproach.”
Psalm 107:12 “… and He humbled their heart with labour… ”
Psalm 107:39 “Again, they have become few, and humbled through harshness, affliction, and sorrow.”
Isaiah 2:9 “And the man bowed down, and man was humbled…”
Isaiah 5:15 “And man is bowed down, and man is humbled and the eyes of the lofty are humbled.”
Humility, being humble, is the attitude which God expects from us; not just in our interactions with Him, but in our daily lives and in our interactions with all we meet. Not only that, but He expects us to do it ourselves. To ask God humble you is certainly not a prayer to pray. It is a very dangerous prayer. The Old Testament examples of the troubles of those whom God humbles, are not to be taken lightly.