What is your view of God? Some people see Him as a mere observer or a bystander; someone who is watching your life go by, but not taking part in it. In this view God is seen as more of a score-keeper, someone who is just watching your life, seeing the decisions that you make and keeping a record of your performance in order to judge you.
With this view of God, it is very difficult (or even impossible) to have any kind of real relationship with Him. You can never really have any closeness with someone who has real power to affect change and offer assistance, but refuses to act, and instead just uses your pain to judge you. Would you even want to have a relationship with someone like that?
The real question is, is this idea of God truly accurate? Is this the picture of God that we see in the scriptures?
We will explore this today; and the answer may surprise you.
So as we begin, I want to show you a scripture that many have heard of before, but don’t often make the connection with the topic of God’s attentiveness in our lives – and that is Philippians 4:4:
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice”
Now this is a particular verse that many people have heard before, and it’s also one that confounds some people. After all, how could we possibly rejoice always? And more importantly, why should we?
When asked this question, some Christian leaders simply respond with “Because the Bible says so”… but that answer just doesn’t cut it – especially if the person has no relationship with God or understanding of His character – and that’s really the point. If you don’t understand who God is, or what He gives to you, then the directive to always rejoice, really falls flat on its face. This is why this verse cannot be separated from the character of God.
You see, there are those who believe that God really doesn’t do much of anything beyond keep a record of our sins and judge us. There are those who believe that He seldom (if ever) offers us any help… He never heals; He never provides; He never protects… He just sits up in heaven and doles out punishment.
And honestly if you have this view of God, and see Him in this way, there really is no reason to rejoice. And again, the idea that we should simply rejoice “because the Bible says so” without any reason given, is no different than if I were to say “marry me and like it!” because I said do.
This ideology of rejoicing simply because the Bible says so, is a dangerous one, because it robs the people of the knowledge of God. It hides the wonderful reality of what He actually gives, and holds the people in darkness.
As usual, I do not want you to simply take my word for this, the scripture itself tells us the real truth. Take a look at Psalm 63:5-7:
“My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips:
When I remember you on my bed, and meditate on you in the night watches.
Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.”
Notice what David is writing here, because this paints a very different picture from the idea of a God who is merely a bystanding judge.
In verse 5 he writes that his soul (his mind and emotions) are satisfied, שָׂבֵעַ in Hebrew –to be filled, to have your desires fulfilled. In this context of the soul, this means that David’s mind, his thoughts and his emotions will be satisfied, fulfilled and prosperous. And as is mentioned in 3rd John 1:2, when your soul prospers, the rest of you does as well, both in body with health, and even financially – every part of your life is prospered by God, and it starts with your soul: your mind and emotions.
David says that his mouth will praise the LORD with joyful lips… not out of a sense of obligation, or requirement, but actual joy.
David also mentions in verse 6 that he remembers the LORD on his bed – morning and night, and that David meditates on the LORD during the night. That word meditate, means to speak to yourself, such as under your breath.
Most people speak to themselves throughout the day, though it’s usually to comment and make exclamations regarding their circumstances or life events – however what David is describing here is something else… he’s describing speaking to himself and bringing to his remembrance the goodness of God.
Now I ask you, why would David want to do this? Why would he do this joyfully? No-one in a right frame of mind would willfully and joyfully remember something unpleasant.
If God was just a judge and a bystander to David’s circumstances and suffering, then David would not choose to joyfully remember God and meditate on Him. And this is the key… look at verse 7:
Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.
My friend, take notice of the first part of that verse, because it is so very important!
David writes that because God has been his help, that is the reason that he rejoices in the shadow of God’s wings!
The shadow of God’s wings is a place of security, comfort and safety. A picture of being both hidden from enemies and sheltered from the outside environment. A place of warmth at night, and a place of shade from the hot sun during the day – absolute equilibrium.
Far from being a simple bystander, God is the One who helps, and His help is the reason why you can rejoice! You do have a reason to rejoice; and it is a wonderful reason!
You may have been taught or believed your entire life that God is not really interested in helping you, but I invite you to let that false belief go and to fully embrace the reality that is displayed right here in these scriptures that we are reading today… that yes God is indeed a God who helps, and actually gives you a reason to rejoice and remember with joy, everything that He has done for you!
You may be thinking right now that God helped David, but God is somehow less inclined to help you; but I ask that you consider two things:
1) The very fact that Jesus sacrificed Himself to redeem you, when God could’ve easily and simply wiped out all life and started over.
2) That the effect of Jesus’ redemption is that you can receive the actual indwelling of His Spirit inside of you, who is described as the Helper, in many verses, including John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13, and Romans 8:26-27.
Friend, everything about Jesus Christ, His life, and His sacrifice, demonstrates the amazing love, care and help that God graciously gives to us. I encourage you today to receive this truth, personally for you. And as David did, to meditate and remember it always.