Today in God’s Word
Deuteronomy 25; Psalm 116; Isaiah 52; Revelation 22
“7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:7–9, ESV)
If I am in the same category as the Psalmist here – a recipient of grace – he makes a case that I ought to pray for my soul and I ought to seek rest in the LORD on account of his bountiful favor toward me. He offers three-fold evidence of this bountiful treatment that I have received from the LORD. Three types of deliverance are mentioned here…one from death itself, one from sorrow, and one from stumbling. It seems that these three forms of deliverance have enabled me to walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
“Before” here, in the Hebrew text refers to living “in the presence of” or “before the face of”. It refers to an intimacy and transparency whereby I am living in the constant presence of God. I am conscious of his presence and I know that this is holy ground. Romans 14 illustrates the reason Christ died and rose again in relation to this text in Psalm 116. Quoting Phil 2:10-11, Rom 14:11 tells of a day after our death when every knee will bow and confess Jesus as Lord. But is God merely the God of the dead? Answer- Matt 22:32; Luke 20:38; Mark 12:27.
In comes Rom 14:9…
“9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:9, ESV)
Christ died and rose again so that you and I might walk with our knee bowed in the presence of God not only in death, but in this life on earth. He died and rose that we would live in communion with God in the “present age”, as Paul writes in Titus 2:12. Do I live as though it is some time in the future that I will “meet Jesus” and “live in the kingdom”? Do I live as though there will be a future glory but I am not in hot pursuit of him here and now?
I would easily adapt John Owen’s statements below to contend that it is a deception to think that we can live in the presence of God in heaven if we do not live in his presence on earth …
“No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter, who does not in some measure behold it by faith here in this world.”
“And the pretended desires of many to behold the glory of Christ in heaven, who have no view of it by faith whilst they are here in this world, are nothing but self-deceiving imaginations.”
Excerpt From: John Owen. “The Glory of Christ.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/1QLHU.l
The Psalmist here urges that we consider our deliverance and live before the face of God here and now.
My soul was not alive in the sense of eternal life…in the sense of knowing and enjoying God (Jn 17:3). I knew not God or his mercies and I was dead inasmuch as Jesus once advised a would-be follower to let the dead bury the dead (Matt 8:22). Dead men walking, as it were. But the LORD has delivered my soul from this death and he has given me newness of life and that abundantly (Rom 6:4; Jn 10:10). I deserved (and still do deserve) the death that was before me and yet he was bountiful in deliverance (Rom 5:8). Now I know that though I may die in the flesh, I will live evermore (Jn 11:25). I do not fear those who can kill my body only, for the LORD owns my soul (Matt 10:28).
But he has also delivered me from sorrow and he has given me clear sight. Though I will have sorrow in this life, I know that I can rejoice always because I have been delivered from sorrow (Phil 4:4; 1 Thess 5:16). The sorrow I face here does not need to strip my peace and joy because Jesus conquered and rose again and he has poured the love of God into my heart (Rom 5:3-5, 15:13). I can face sorrow with a rock solid hope and trust that my loving Father has purpose and good in mind for me (Jer 32:40-41) in the midst of all my circumstances (Eph 1:11; Rom 8:28-29). Like Joseph, I can trust that “God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20) and like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan 3:17-18), I will daily put my trust in a deliver(er) but not in a specific earthly deliver(ance). Hindrances will be removed from others as they see me sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor 6:3-10). I acknowledge my circumstances and I mourn when it is that time (Eccles 3:4), but I am not ruined and I am not bankrupt of joy and hope…not ever (2 Cor 4:7-12). My heart is firm as I trust in the LORD and I do not fear bad news (Ps 112:7).
He has also delivered me from stumbling. Though I will stumble in this life (Jas 3:2), I know that I can boast in weakness because in this the power of Christ is perfected (2 Cor 12:9) and I have been delivered from stumbling. I know that I will not ultimately fall because I have an intercessor who prays for me and his prayer is effective (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25; Luke 22:32). I know that my faith will not ultimately fail because I am sustained by the grace of God and not by my own capacities (Eph 2:8-9).
May we know our deliverance and may we say with Paul, “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” Let our souls be at rest…let us walk with God in the land of the living!
Soli Deo Gloria!