The exaltation of man is a dangerous thing.
Of course, it all seems to make sense at the time. Great orators and charismatic leaders move minds and inflame passions. Civic pride swells under strong leadership. People sing the praises of one who promises deliverance.
On the other side, there are those who are exalted in the eyes of mankind for their potential to do evil. Political candidates often gather supporters through casting an opponent as one to be feared and hated. Bullies, whether people or nations, attempt to exalt themselves through threats. Some have remarked that the greatest of all motivations in human experience is fear. It is perhaps reasonable to say that the most common expression of exaltation is not an elevation of perceived good but a fear of evil.
But, the exaltation of man and mankind always has a dark side to it. History bears this out in every case. Even when we begin as well as we can, we are prone to corruption. When a mere mortal is put on a pedestal, he simply has farther to fall. Dig around in the closets of your heroes and you’ll uncover things about them that you wish weren’t true. Need anything be said about the dark side of those whom we exalt in slavish fear?
This brings us to the comfort of God’s promise we’ve considered this week from Psalm 46:10, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
For those who make an honest appraisal of the heart of man, there is no hope in exalting him. We simply go from one conflict and catastrophe to another. It seems that, the greater the exaltation of man, the greater the horror and inhumanity that results. But not so with the exaltation of God!
Do you wish that wars would cease? God is the only one who can and will accomplish such a thing (Ps. 46:9). Do you delight in righteousness and peace? You will find it in the Kingdom of God (Rom. 14:16-17). Are you tired of self-righteous condemnation and finger-pointing? You will find grace and mercy in God (Ps. 116:5). Do you long for justice? He is the impartial judge who cannot be tempted with a bribe (Ps. 9:7-8). Do you despair of having a wise government? In Christ are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3), and the government will finally and eternally rest on His shoulders (Is. 9:6-7). Do you wish to know unreserved pleasure that is never-ending? You will know it in the presence of God (Ps. 16:11).
And this is just a drop in the ocean of the unimaginable goodness of God for those who love Him and long for Him!
Mankind is, at his best, only a sin-tainted reflection of his Creator. Hope in the exaltation of man is no hope at all. It just ends up lifting up evil and frailty for all to see. But the exaltation of God shines the light of hope above the waves of trouble for all who delight in Him. It displays God as a refuge in the midst of a storm beckoning us to run to Him.
May God grant us humility that puts us and all mankind in our proper place and faith that delights wholeheartedly in the certainty of God’s exaltation in all the earth.