The word “know” is an interesting word. We sometimes use it to refer to personal, even intimate relations, and other times we use it as more of a formal and distant familiarity – as in “I know of him.”
The Scriptures speak of knowing God, in-fact the entire Bible is designed to show us Jesus for the purpose of us knowing Him. Even so, there are a great many believers today who know more of God, than actually know Him. You may have even heard me say that before and wondered about it. So today we will be exploring what it means to actually know God, and how a real relationship with Jesus benefits us in our daily lives.
Throughout this study, we will be examining the scriptures very closely. I like to study slowly and look at the finer details of each text because God often plants what I call “hidden treasure” deep within scripture for us to find. Only those who take time and study deeply ever find these treasures, and they always contain powerful, life-changing truth for the blessed-one who discovers them.
For our study today we will be examining Psalms 116, starting with verses 1 through 4:
“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
Because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore will I call on him as long as I live.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell got hold on me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Then called I on the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech you, deliver my soul.”
This is how most every genuine relationship with the LORD begins. We being foolish and prideful creatures, being dead in our our own sin and not even realizing it, we try to go our way and “do our own thing”, and what is it that we find? The sorrows of death, pains of hell and trouble and sorrow. This was certainly true in my own life, and it is true on most believer’s lives as well; you probably have your own story about a former pathway leading down the road of death. Look at verse 4. If you are a born-again believer in Christ today there came a time when you honestly called on the name of the LORD. Not merely attended a church, not merely raised your hand or walked down an isle, and not merely parroted a prayer from a pastor; but a time when you cried-out to the LORD to save you as the psalmist did here: O LORD, I beseech you deliver my soul.
In true poetic Hebrew fashion, we know from verse 1 that the LORD heard that cry. Oh thank God that He hears us when we call. If I cried to Him and He refused to listen I would be dead and in Hell today. Thank you Jesus that God hears.
Well I could camp on that point for a while, but we have more to look at here… verse 2 is the natural response of any sane person after realizing that God hears them and they are saved. Having such magnificent access to an infinitely powerful God, why would we ever fail to avail ourselves of such a wonderful resource? Think about it. I have spoken with many people whose life is in absolute shambles, and when I ask them if they have honestly inquired of God regarding direction, the typical answer is “No.”
Furthermore when I ask if these people have sought the guidance of God before going down this path of destruction, the answers range from “No.” to “I thought I could handle it”. My dear friends, that’s nothing more than stubborn, foolish pride. We have access to a God that is all-knowing, and loves us enough to send Jesus to substitutionally suffer and die for us in our place, so today we could live, and we fail to ask Him for guidance in our day to day lives? That’s madness!
Next we have verses 5 through 9:
“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
Return to your rest, O my soul; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.”
Thank God that He is gracious and merciful. Another natural response of someone who has been saved by the LORD is exaltation of Him (praise) will naturally flow out of them. It will not be an effort or a struggle. If you win the lottery, you are not going to have a hard time shouting for joy, jumping up-and-down or smiling… it will be a natural response, so it is for everyone who has bee rescued by God.
Verse 6 tells us that the LORD preserves the simple. Now we tend to think of the word “simple” to mean a foolish or slow person; however the actual definition of the word used here is “trusting, open-minded and unworldly”. So verse 6 is telling us that it is God who preserves (or guards) those who trust in Him with an open-mind and are not “worldly”.
Now there are a lot of very worldly people in churches today. The problem with this is that the more worldly we become, the more we are affected by natural influences, passions and thinking, it then filters into our speech and our actions and soon God has no place in our daily lives at all anymore. It is a path that leads to our own demise, and Go does not want that to happen, or He wouldn’t have rescued us to begin with.
As to having an open-mind, I want to give you an example of that. When I was dying in the hospital and I cried to the LORD for help, I had to make a decision. I had heard things about God all of my life, I had rituals to perform and traditions taught to me, and I had a decent amount of “God-trivia” that I ha memorized. None of that though was working for me… I was still dying in the hospital. So my decision was this: I could continue doing things m own way – clinging to my own ideas and traditions, or I could forget everything I thought I knew, and start fresh and take an honest look at God and what the scriptures actually say.
Having a truly open mind is being able to admit that you are wrong, especially when you encounter an all-knowing and infinite God, who wrote Himself and His wisdom into a book. A book that very few people actually choose to study and apply.
Needless to say I chose the second-option, and I am still alive and all-the-better for it.
Verses 7 and 8 are more Hebrew poetry. When we begin to realize how bountifully and wonderfully and gracious that God has been to us, our soul (that is our mind and thoughts) will be returned to a perfect state of rest. It will having a calming and tranquil effect on what was once the turbulent waters of our mind. An image that Jesus demonstrated in a very awesome way when He spoke Peace and calmed the raging sea in Mark 4:39.
Also notice in verse 8 that we have three things mentioned. And as you have probably heard me say before, whenever you see an itemized list in the Bible, there is a reason for it and a divine order to the items. We see here: For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
These each represent a different area that Jesus Christ delivers us. The first being that He delivers our soul from death. Remember that our soul is our mind and our thoughts. Through the act of repentance (changing our mind to agree with the truth of scripture), we are delivered from our own deadly thinking.
Next we see that Jesus delivers our eyes from tears. This is emotional suffering. Notice also that this only comes after the delivering of our mind and thought-life. Jesus must correct our wrong-ideas and thinking before He can deliver us from emotional pain.
Lastly, Jesus delivers our feet from failing. This represents our daily walk, our lifestyle and behaviors. Take note that this is last in the list, not because it is less-important, but because our behaviors and daily walk are only corrected after the first two items are delivered. Jesus always cleans us from the inside-out. The church today usually has it backwards… the church says “clean up your behavior and the Jesus will accept you.” – However we have read today and see here in the scripture that as we simply bring our mess to Jesus and swallow our pride, allowing Him to clean us, He will do exactly that.
Finally we see in verse 9 of our text, a new outlook, a new attitude and a new life as a result of the deliverance of Jesus: I will walk before the LORD, in the land of the living. This is L-O-R-D in all capital letters, which as we learned in a previous study is a placeholder for the name of God: YHVH, which itself is a pointer to Jesus. Now that word “before” in this verse is a little bit confusing for us… it is not that we are walking ahead of Jesus, that would be foolish, what the word actually means is that we are walking “face to face” with him. So what this verse is telling us is that as we stare into the face of Jesus (which today is the scriptures), we will always walk in the land of the living. In other words, He will guard us from the paths of destruction and death, as we will have intimacy with Him.
You see my friends, our only job is to focus on Jesus, and by doing this, He fulfills everything. The moment we stop staring into His face is the moment we set yourself up for pain and failure of every kind.
A relationship with Him is the most important thing in our life, as it is the key to life. Not merely knowing of Him, but knowing Him. This is the way we were meant to life, and this is what Jesus has restored us to be.