Genesis 2:7; Genesis 18:27
The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Those that are admitted into fellowship with God are, and must be, very humble and very reverent in their approaches to Him.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Abraham acknowledged he was “dust and ashes.”
ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): By these expressions he shows how deeply his soul was humbled in the presence of God.
THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The most holy men are always the most humble men.
A. W. PINK: He who is experimentally acquainted with the “plague of his own heart” (I Kings 8:38) is one in experience with the most eminent of God’s saints.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): The more he advances in the divine life, the more he sinks in his own estimation: Job―“Behold, I am vile;” David―“Who am I, and what is my father’s house;” Jacob―“I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies;” John the Baptist―“the lachet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose,” Paul―“I am not worthy to be called an apostle,” and, “I am less than the least of all saints.” These have been the self-annihilations of men who were all great in the sight of the Lord; and these must be the best proofs, as they will be the certain effects, or our growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I believe our hearts are all alike, destitute of every good, and prone to every evil. Like money from the same mint, they bear the same impression of total depravity; but grace makes a difference, and grace deserves the praise…The Scripture declares the principles, desires, and feelings of a Christian. It is true that you feel contrary principles, that you are conscious of defects and defilements; but it is equally true, that you could not be right, if you did not feel these things. To be conscious of them, and humbled for them, is one of the surest marks of grace; and to be more deeply sensible of them than formerly, is the best evidence of growth in grace.
A. W. PINK: One of the principle things which distinguishes a regenerate person from an unregenerate one may be likened unto two rooms which have been swept but not dusted. In one, the blinds are raised and the sunlight streams in, exposing the dust still lying on the furniture. In the other, the blinds are lowered, and one walking through the room would be unable to discern its real condition. Thus it is in the case of one who has been renewed by the Spirit: his eyes have been opened to see the awful filth which lurks in every corner of his heart. But in the case of the unregenerate, though they have occasional twinges of conscience when they act wrongfully, they are very largely ignorant of the awful fact that they are a complete mass of corruption into the pure eyes of the thrice holy God.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): Dust particles are in a room before the sun shines, but they only appear then.
JOHN NEWTON: This discovery is indeed very distressing; yet, till it is made, we are prone to think ourselves much less vile than we really are, and cannot so heartily abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes.
A. W. PINK: Sinful self and all its wretched failures should be sufficiently noticed so as to keep us in the dust before God. Christ and His great salvation should be contemplated so as to lift us above self and fill the soul with thanksgiving.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus, weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust.
JOHN NEWTON: Indeed these may be said to be great attainments; but they who have most of them are most sensible that they, in and of themselves, are nothing, have nothing, can do nothing, and see daily cause for abhorring themselves.
ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): Poverty of spirit is the bag into which Christ puts the riches of His grace.
C. H. SPURGEON: When Abraham pleaded with God for Sodom, the Lord patiently listened to his renewed pleading. How instructive is that story of the Patriarch’s pleading for Sodom! How humbly he speaks!—“I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, even I that am but dust and ashes.” Yet how boldly he pleads!
JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): He speaks as one amazed at his own boldness, and the liberty God graciously allowed him, considering God’s greatness, He is the Lord; and his own meanness, but dust and ashes. Whenever we draw near to God, it becomes us reverently to acknowledge the vast distance that there is between us and Him. He is the Lord of glory, we are worms of the earth.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Pray, then, with an humble boldness.
GEORGE SWINNOCK (1627-1673): Remember, that when thou doth speak unto the Lord, thou art but dust and ashes.
WILLIAM JENKYN (1613–1685): Our father was Adam, our grandfather dust, our great-grandfather nothing.
C. H. SPURGEON: A very favourite expression [once used in 19th century prayer meetings was] “Thy poor unworthy dust”—We have heard of a good man who, in pleading for his children and grandchildren, was so beclouded in the blinding influence of this expression, that he exclaimed, “O Lord, save Thy dust, and Thy dust’s dust, and Thy dust’s dust’s dust!”
ADAM CLARKE: Can any be so silly, and so preposterously absurd?
C. H. SPURGEON: When Abraham said, “I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes,” the utterance was forcible and deeply expressive; but in its misquoted, perverted, and abused form, the sooner it is consigned to its element―[the dust-bin]―the better.
MATTHEW HENRY: Better say nothing, than nothing to the purpose, or that which tends to the dishonour of God and the grief of our brethren…As therefore it is best for a lame man to keep his seat, so it is best for a silly man, or a bad man, to hold his tongue.