Moses was initially reluctant to go back to Egypt to lead his people out from captivity but after having witnessed the revealed glory of God, he refused to lead the same people into the Promised Land without God’s presence with them. Lord Jesus also, in like manner, always ‘looked unto heaven’ for strength and blessings for all that He was to do. God is the guiding light, strengthening hand and protective shield to those who seek Him to enable them to successfully walk on that path.
Light in deep darkness – The psalmist proudly proclaims, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). Hebrew word ‘or’ is translated as light, illumination, to shine and also used and accepted to mean prosperity and comfort and is used in all these forms. But natural light differs from supernatural light and during the creation process God did not create light but revealed the same, while the sun and moon were created on the fourth day (Genesis 1:1-17). The light of God’s glory changed the void or tohu wa bohu state of the earth to convert it into an agent of creation for God. This change was from formless or immaterial and void into form, from that which cannot be grasped into physical matter that is tangible.
Light that lit up the whole earth is of healing and compassion of the Holy Spirit and even today our connection to God for this. It is the source of our true being and our real identity that provides us real happiness and joy in God. Lord Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world” and with this simple statement He became that single contact to receive the Holy Spirit and through Him healing, comfort and joy (John 8:12).
What does light do? – There are many functions of this light that God is -first, He reveals what is hidden in the deep recesses of our hearts and souls. Second, we are helped in true assessment and discernment of every situation; three, we are saved from hidden threats, the snares and pits dug up in our way by the devil. Four, through knowledge that we receive, we get strengthened to face all threats; and five, He helps us to identify the right source for help when in a fallen state or in trouble. Holy Spirit our counselor and guide does all this through help in analyzing not only what is outside but also within – our heart, mind, soul and strength thus helping us to really commit ourselves to God and His kingdom.
This is confirmed by the Scripture “I gain understanding from Your percepts; therefore I hate every false way. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:104-105). God helps us through His light to lead my life as per Your will by showing me the right way, “We also have the word of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt. And you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the ‘morning star’ rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). Till His second coming, His Word is the light and the Holy Spirit teaches us ‘everything’ through that and without that light there is and cannot be any life, for life is in Him and death a separation from Him.
Receiving strength in our fallen state – The psalmist declared to all, “The LORD is my strength and my shield” (Psalmist 28:7) for he is aware that without the Divine hand on us, we are destined to stumble along in darkness. The Hebrew word “ozz” simply means strength but it has its origin from the strength of a fortress or place of security. Thus, the LORD is my place of security and I move in His strength and receive protection from Him.
What all areas of our lives are strengthened? – The strength that we receive from God is all encompassing and we are covered by this strength like a cloud on a mountain top. All aspects of life get covered by this cloud;
· Material and physical – ‘The name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe’ (Proverbs 18:10) for the tower is high up out of the reach of the enemies who are left helpless.
· Personal, social and political – This strength is available only till we abide in Him and the result of going away from Him is ‘an adversary shall be all around the land; he shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered’ (Amos 3:11). The enemy not only overwhelms in that separated state but also loots and destroys our resources.
· Spiritual – ‘But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’ (John 4:14). The promised Holy Spirit then becomes the indwelling, ever available source to ‘reveal and teach’ everything about God and His will.
To receive this strength and security we go to the source, for only through a close and personal alignment with God does He provide this strength and shelter. With this contact then the faithful ‘shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion’. The Hebrew word ‘raah’ is translated as ‘see’ and the same word is also used in the process of creation where God saw, approved and the next step started (Genesis 1:4 & 1:9). When we see through His eyes we see what He sees, all the dangers around us for Prophet Isaiah means not ‘eye to eye’ but ‘eye in eye’. In faith then we see through His eyes and that opening of our spiritual eyes starts the process of receiving visions and revelations about God’s plan and His Word. This binding happens in sleep when body and soul are silent and our spirit connects with the Holy Spirit and we see what He sees – past, present and future. We forget for we cannot bear in our fallen nature, what was revealed, the magnificence of God’s glory.
Apostle Paul is lifted up to heaven and he could hear “inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” and to avoid any chance of self exaltation he is given a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). In like manner Apostle John was lifted up into heaven from his exile on Patmos Island and given Revelation of Christ and shown what is to come. He is commanded to warn believers to repent and also assure us of final victory and establishment of Divine Kingdom on the earth but he is also barred from revealing certain things. The spiritual strength received through a close personal relationship with God through holy living in obedience to His Word provides access to such Divine mysteries and strength to face the awesome presence of God.
Spiritual strength received through His Word becomes the 2 edged sword which works two ways. It penetrates cultural ties, habits, biases, preconceptions and doubts to speak to my spirit to increase faith (Romans 10:17); secondly, it also divides and separates us from lies and half truths of the devil to lead us into God’s truth. And finally, it cuts in any direction, both for our edification, inspiration and instruction but also for chastisement for He ‘prunes the branches’ to make us bear more fruit. Then this two edged sword becomes our weapon of defense in His stronghold for we join the heavenly forces in the spiritual battle that is on till the second coming of Lord Jesus. We join with God in the spiritual battle as partners through prayer and through submission to His will.
LORD is their strength – King David, through his spiritual eyes, visualizes God becoming strength for others who step forward in faith (Psalm 28:8). From obtaining strength he turns to other believers in similar circumstances to encourage them to confide in Him and be strengthened.
LORD is my shield – King David is a warrior from childhood days for he fought a bear and a lion to save his sheep from their mouths. He is fully aware that no amount of strength can save without a proper protective shield to deflect the ‘fiery arrows’ of the enemy. He then claims this in the Lord that ‘He is my shield’ (Psalm 28:7). Hebrew word ‘magen or maginnah’ is translated as shield or scales, like the thick scales to protect fish and the crocodile. Magen is derived from ‘ganan’ meaning cover, surround, defend or protect, thus implying that God as a shield protects all around not from anyone particular direction alone.
During a period of deep despair when his son, Absalom (name translated as ‘father of peace’) rebels against him to force him to flee (2 Samuel 13-18), King David reposes his faith in God saying, ‘But thou O Lord are a shield to me’ (Psalm 3:3). Many of his trusted aides desert him and Shimei, a Benjamite from King Saul’s family hurls stones at the King while abusing him. Abishai, moving alongside, seeks permission to punish and kill Shimei, but is restrained by the King who says, “Let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD will look upon my misery and restore to me His covenant blessing instead of his curse today” (2 Samuel 16:5-12). In this crisis of his life King David claims the strength and protection of his God.
Many times we face such verbal rocks being hurled at us for no fault of ours, out of jealousy or anger. David’s meaning of telling Abishai is different, that I had gone astray and perhaps the realization of my failure will lead me back to God, and he does not want the stone throwing to be stopped. We must learn from our present situation and assess the circumstances to remove whatever is taking us away from God. Flow of strength and protective shield can only be in place for us till we remain connected to God’s Word in obedience and return to Him through repentance.
LORD is my glory – In that situation King David claims the LORD to be his glory ‘and the one who lifts up my head’ (Psalm 3:3) thus recognizing his total dependence on God. Hebrew word ‘merim’ is translated as lift, exalt or raise and it is an ongoing process of being continually lifted up by God. How could that be when he is surrounded by failure all around, for only a few followers are left with him, his very life is in danger, the throne is lost and all that to his own son? But David retains his focuses only on God.
How is God his glory? – Hebrew word ‘Kabod’ is translated as glory while it also means weightiness, honor, wealth, splendor or abundance. Kabod when used for individuals in a secular sense means wealth, honor and dignity of that person. Laban’s sons complain about Jacob’s wealth, which as per them has been acquired from their father and the same word kabod is used for Jacob’s wealth. Kabod when used for God means His glory or what God is and what He does in creation and for the salvation of His people. When the Israelites prayed to God in their distress, they sought His intervention for the sake of His kabod or reputation among the nations, “Help us O God for the glory (kabod) of Your name” (Psalm 79:9-10). Thus David is saying ‘My honor, wealth and splendor is in God and all that is rooted in His Divine love. In spite of everything that he is undergoing at that time, he found assurance in God’s Word, “I still love you despite all your failures and I will lift up your head in honor”.
The weightiness of ‘kabod’ is feeling the love of God while being surrounded by the ruins of my life, sickness, failure and loneliness. This weight of His love descends upon us as our glory when we look unto heaven and being overwhelmed in this love, weep out of pure joy in gratitude. This weight lifts us and does not press us down. But how do we experience this light, strength, protection and glory of God? Apostle Paul provides the answer, for he has been through many a shipwreck in his life, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Thanksgiving is Hebrew word ‘yadah’ which means to cast, confess and throw, like throwing a line to catch fish. Thanksgiving helps us to connect into God’s treasure trove with a fishing line of prayer to seek and receive the desired gifts from Him.
Do not panic, look unto Him, lift up your eyes towards Him and receive that kabod and then feel the weight of His love and let it lift you up. God desires to be our light, strength and shield but that can happen only, if we will let Him be. David went to face Goliath in the power and strength of God, for every battle fought by God’s children is His battle. His declaration was categorical, “I come in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands and I will strike you down and cut off your head” (1 Samuel 17:45-47). God is our heavenly Father and how can He leave His children in trouble? David invited God into His situation always and every time and moved in His guiding light, in His strength and under His protection.
Before becoming king, David had experienced many situations in his life while grazing sheep, where safety and strength was given by God to help him be victorious over wild beasts. He developed thanksgiving into a personal habit while singing songs of praise to God while maintaining this throughout his life. The Gospel writers have attributed to the Savior Lord the same habit of singing psalms of praise to God the Father. His promise to be always with us, to be our light, strength and shield, is fulfilled by the coming of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He becomes all this for us to make us ‘overcome’ every situation and emerge victorious to give Him glory for He is our glory!