"The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions thier hearts individually; He considers their works.
No King is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield"
In Hebrew, the word "Selah" means "pause & consider". This passage had a lot of "selah" moments in it for me. A friend of mine was recently the victim of a vicious and nearly deadly attack. This friend is big and strong - not even close to the kind of person you would normally consider a victim - in fact, quite the opposite - you feel safer around him than you would around most anybody else. But there it is - he was made a victim - he was scared (and justly so!) and helpless to defend himself.
This Psalm was part of my regular reading today and, in the light of my friend's recent experience, really striking. Consider how the Psalmist (King David) builds the phrases to demonstrate the total and utter security we have in the Lord, and the total and utter fear we live in without Him. These are my "Selah" moments:
"The Lord looks from heaven" - He doesn't look around from an earthly perspective - He is not of earth! He is different
. He is separate
! He is superior
all the sons of men" - He is fully aware
of what's going on down here.
"He fashions their hearts individually
" - This section jumps out at me more than any of the others. God is not just the creator of mankind - He is the creator of each
. He created MY heart. He molded & fashioned it. Not just the muscle - the fleshly organ that pumps my blood - but, in the context of this passage, He fashioned my desires, my emphathy, my compasion, my passions - all that makes up WHO I am - which is so much more than WHAT I am.
their works" - "Consider" is a fascinating word in this context. It means, "To think carefully about; To think or deem to be; To form an opinion about; judge; To take into account; bear in mind; To esteem; regard; To look at thoughtfully" (www.dictionary.com
). When God looks at the life of each individual on this planet, He considers
their works! This God who is so far above the puny humanness of our race - who chooses, for His own purposes, to be aware of these creatures He has formed - takes time to think carefully about
, to form an opinion about,
to bear in mind
, to take into account
each and every thing each and every creature does. Now there's Selah
King is saved . . . A mighty man is not
delivered . . . A horse is a vain
hope . . . " - Every earthly thing we put our trust in is untrustworthy. Every thing. Our own wit or strength - that of others - even that of thousands of others mightier and wiser than ourselves. What do we have to fear in this world if we are without God? EVERYTHING. Without God we would be justified in crawling into the smallest corner, screaming in terror at the world around us - for without God's good pleasure, we have NO safety.
"Behold" - I love that word. "Look" - "Lift up your eyes" - "See". It reminds me of the seen in Lord of the Rings - Return of the King - in the last battle, the good guys are vastly, outrageously outnumbered. Doomed. The bad guys are confident and cocky in their own strength. The "know" they have won and are relishing the fear in those about to be slaughtered (albeit courageous fear). Then, "Behold" the ground beneath them gave way and it was themselves who were doomed and slaughtered. In this same way - King David shows us our utter helplessness and weakness, then says "Behold". What a magnificent transitory word!!
"the eye of the Lord
is on those who fear Him . . ." - Here is our safety. Here is our confidence. Here is our courage. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" No one! We are utterly and totally secure in ANY circumstance if we belong to Christ. HE fashioned the hearts even of those who threaten us and HE CAN crush them with just a thought. In the midst of a raging flood, in a lonely hotel room with a strangers gun cocked & pointed at our head, in the hands of a terrorist with a blade to our throat - IF we belong to Christ - we are SECURE.
I do not mean that the flood will not drown us or the gun will not go off or the knife will not sever our head from our body. Avoiding death is not the security I'm talking about. Death is inevitable for ALL of us. None of us knows when it's coming - whether in old age going quietly in our sleep or at the slow and vicious hands of cancer or in the sudden unexpected tragedy of an accident or at the hands of someone evil and uncaring. How or when we die is not the issue. Death is a fact. Our security is not from death - our security is IN death.
For all men, God has appointed a time to die. What matters is not how or when we die, but what happens afterward - for all of us are eternal beings. The flesh passes away - that much is certain. The person goes on - that much is also certain. Those who are in Christ have nothing to fear
in this process however and whenever it comes because we know we continue on in the presence of our Lord - in eternal blessedness and hope. So, what have I, the beloved child of the living God have to fear? NOTHING!
Those who do not belong to Christ however should fear death with every ounce of their being
- for the eternity that awaits them holds far more terror than this world could ever expose them to, even at its absolute worst.
For those who do not know Christ - if you think you have no safety now, in this world, consider how it will be when God not only removes His hand of mercy completely (you are living in His mercy now, whether you acknowledge Him or not - the fact you are still breathing is evidence of that). Consider
how, once that hand of mercy is removed, you then see His wrath poured out without the constraints of mercy. All your denial of Him, every act that spat in the face of His beloved Son who hung on the cross
to bear your
sin, all your self-conceit in the face of the Almighty God, every selfish act, every unkind word, every lustful thought, all of your rebellion - now YOU must pay for it. You would not accept His free gift - You would not bow the knee to the only
One Who knows you more intimately than you know yourself and yet loved you enough to suffer and die for your sin - the only one who bled to redeem you though you were unworthy to be redeemed. So now, in death, YOU pay the penalty for every unholy thing about you - and that is everything. There is nothing in you worth redeeming - all you are is worthy of this great and terrible judgment - and now you will pay. For eternity.
Repent. Bow the knee to the God who wants
to save you. Turn to Him and find true safety.