Scripture: verse 14
Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest…to make for [Himself] a glorious name.
Observation: God leads us through hard stuff sometimes. Just like the shepherd who carries a map of the mountains in his head, which is far too complex for the sheep to understand, God can see where we are going when we cannot. He keeps us from stumbling in the desert. He leads us to the valley and gives us rest. On account of His glorious name.
My husband played Bill Sykes in a high school production of Oliver! His big song was called “My Name” and it was about all the awful things that Sykes had done on account of his name. Some toff slumming with his valet/Bumped into me in the alley/Now his eyes will never tally/He’d never heard of my name. He hadn’t done that for any particular reason (he may have robbed the men, but that’s not why he attacked), but just to make a name for himself.
God seems to be the same way. He doesn’t particularly need a reason to feed us and teach us and give us new sight. He does those things because of His Name.
Application: Don’t slum with your valet 🙂
Prayer: God, I praise you because of your glorious name. I praise you because you have done praiseworthy things over and over and over again. I praise you because you have already mapped all the mountains I am negotiating. Thank you for keeping me from stumbling. Help me to see. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 4
Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you
Observation: I am not a go-getter. I am not good at hustling up new leads, new opportunities, new people. And sometimes (frequently) I worry that God wants me to come up with these things somehow. I worry that if God is calling me to write this blog or paint a prophetic painting or give a teaching, then it is also my job to promote myself and find my venue and my audience on my own power. Which is a scary thing to think, because I’m not capable of that – at least, not without investing tremendous amounts of time and emotional energy that would be better spent in writing or painting or teaching or whatever my actual calling is.
But God says that people will come to us. That people will flow in, and bring their resources and their abilities to help. That the things I cannot do will be done by someone else, who does not consider them worrisome or difficult. While this is a logical plan, it’s easy enough to forget.
And all we have to do is lift up our eyes and see them. It reminds me of the story of Elisha and the army of fire (2 Kings 6), when God had already sent a mighty army to protect Elisha, but He also had to open their eyes to see it. God’s power already surrounds me. I just can’t quite see it yet.
Application: Ask God what tasks you’ve been worrying about that aren’t yours in the first place. And ask Him to open your eyes to see His power.
Prayer: Yeshua, I thank you that you have redeemed me. I thank you that you made me who I am and surrounded me with everything I need. Help me to trust your provision for the things I think I lack. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 3
…listen well, that your soul may live.
Observation: This passage is an open invitation from God: whatever our needs, we should come to God and be satisfied. He offers us food and drink “without money and without cost.” He asks only that we come and receive.
I’m trying to learn to be quiet and listen to God more. We’re so quick to rely on our own understanding, and I never seem to remember to ask God for His plan before coming up with my own. It causes a ridiculous amount of unneeded stress. I need to listen, because when I listen, I find rest for my soul.
Application: Listen well.
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for your offer of goodness. Thank you for sharing answers as fast as I remember to ask for them. Please help me to come to you before my soul gets tired. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 17
I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit…
Observation: “Profit” is the Hebrew word ya’al, which is a root word meaning to gain, to profit, to ascend, etc. With a very slight tweak it becomes the word ya’el, which means mountain goat. (Yael (usually spelled Jael because Hebrew transliteration conventions are stupid) is also the name of a woman in Judges 4 who killed the commander of the Canaanite army.)
So we’ve got two images for what the Lord teaches us. He teaches us to profit, meaning to gain good things. Following His rules, our finances prosper. No law of economics or business can counter the presence or absence of His blessing. And He also teaches us to be nimble and safe like a mountain goat. We can move freely in dangerous and rocky terrain, knowing that He is between us and the drop.
In Matthew 6, Yeshua tells us that if we make seeking God a priority, all other blessings (such as food and clothes) will be given to us. In Matthew 11, He says that He will give us rest for our souls.
We are safe.
Application: Follow Him. Find rest.
Prayer: God, I praise you because you are the one who teaches us how to profit. I praise you because you are the only one who can see the whole of our world and how its elements interact, to make poverty and to make wealth. Thank you for leading me. Help me to trust you, and to let my soul be at rest. Amen.
Scripture: verses 5 and 6
On that day, Adonai–Tzva’ot [Lord of Hosts]
will be a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem
for the remnant of his people.
He will also be a spirit of justice
for whoever sits as a judge,
and a source of strength for those
repelling enemy attacks at the gate.
Observation: God is beauty and glory and wealth for the people who have turned to Him after lots of war and hardship and desolation. They have no dignity left, so He is their dignity for them. At the same time, He is also Justice and Wisdom for those who are making hard decisions, and Strength for those who are fighting a hard fight.
In other words, when we turn to Him, He is exactly what we need.
He is rest when we are tired and wisdom when we are confused and direction when we are lost and beauty and interest when we are bored. We tend to assume that God is good at fixing a certain set of problems, but that for some things we’re on our own. But just because God is propping up the entire universe doesn’t mean He can’t also take the time to help me figure out how to teach my daughters to share their toys. (Not that I’ve succeeded in that one, but I think we’re getting better. At least a bit.)
Praying about everything isn’t a cop-out. It isn’t a way of dodging the real issue or hiding my head in the sand. (Well, I suppose it might be, if I’m also avoiding doing what I know I’m supposed to do.) It’s the best and most reliable course of action. For everything.
Application: What haven’t you asked Him about yet?
Prayer: Yeshua, I praise you because you are everything to everyone. Your identity is not limited to one set of attributes or problems. Thank you for providing for all of my needs. Help me to see where I haven’t asked for help yet, and to turn to you. Amen.