Many of us are beginning to grumble about how long all the seeming insanity must continue. Why is destruction allowed? When do jobs come back? When we stop wearing a mask everywhere? Why can’t we travel and visit elderly loved ones? On and on it goes. There seems to be nothing but anguish and uncertainty.
I’ve shared from Psalms 3 before, but in ancient languages, chapters 3 and 4 were one song. I’m just going to mention the outline here.
Psalm 3:1-2 The Soul’s Lament
Psalm 3:3-4 Faith Responds
Psalm 3:5-6 Faith Rests
Psalm 3:7-4:1 Faith Requests
Psalm 4:2-3 Faith Seeks
Psalm 4:5-7 Faith Waits
Psalm 4:8 Faith Trusts
The pattern of moving from lament to trust is still true today. God does hear and respond to our laments.
Come and save us
The heading for Psalm 80 in one of my Bibles says “Rescue and Restore.” Yes, Lord! The theme seems to be a plea for God to come back and revive and restore His people.
1 Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth 2 before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken your might; come and save us. Psalm 80:1-2 (NIV)
A note says Joseph is a metaphor, a picture of Israel being safely led through the wilderness on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land.
But the next phrase caught my attention because of a cross reference.
God sat enthroned between the cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle. The people occasionally saw the glory of God appear. The Psalmist is asking that God shine forth (in glory) again before these three tribes.
Why those three?
Numbers 2 gave instructions regarding how the Israelites would move their camp from location to location. The meaning of names is symbolic in Middle Eastern thinking. The meanings are very insightful about how we can move forward now. I wonder if they are clues about how we might “awaken” God’s might. After all, angels respond to God’s word. (Psalm 103:20)
Jacob blessed his sons before he died. Genesis 49:1 says he asked them to gather round so he could tell them what would happen in days to come. Blessings were understood to be painting a picture of their future. Have you heard the song, The Blessing, by Kari Jobe? Anointed and powerful!
It’s time to move out
The instructions gave a marching order. God always has reasons for what He does, whether they make sense to us or not. I wondered what these instructions are suggesting to us? How do we move from anguish and lament to trust?
Zebulun, “dwelling, provision, first to war,” led. Where are we dwelling? Under the shadow of God’s protection? (Psalm 91) God is our provider, just as He did for the Israelites. Zebulun also was first to war against the enemy. Now, some will be asked to “war” the enemy in the spiritual realm, successful because of where they dwell.
Next came Issachar, “discerns times.” 1 Chronicles 12:32 says they understood the times and knew what Israel should do. God does things in seasons and times; today, there are those who discern or understand what God is doing and help us know how to respond.
A sad note: Issachar: In order to keep peace with the Canaanites who possessed the Promised Land originally, Issachar paid a tribute and became slave laborers instead of leading people. I do not want to do that!
Next came Judah, meaning “praise.” No matter how it seems today, remember that praise is a powerful weapon.
Then came Reuben, “who sees the son, beholds the vision of.” Victory comes as we keep our eyes on Jesus, focusing on what He has already finished on our behalf. Our redemption, but also rendering our enemy powerless.
Simeon, “who hears and obeys,” followed. As we remember God means what He says and does what He says and as we heed the words of the Issachars of our day, we move from fear to trust and faith.
Gad means “a band or troop.” Jacob said enemies would attack him, but he would in turn attack at their heels, just like God said to Eve about what Christ would do to satan.
Then the Tent of meeting and Levites marched out. The glory and presences of God! I love what followed the presence of God!
What follows God
Immediately after the Tent of Meeting came Ephraim, “fruitful in suffering, double fruit.” (Genesis 41:52). We do not remain in a suffering, miserable state. Jesus came to free us! Rescue and Restore!
Manasseh followed, “forgetting all the hardships and the sin lineage of Adam.” All our pain. All our trauma. Every wound. Jesus heals broken hearts and binds wounds. Even the hurts and wounds and trauma of a season of COVID and racial tension and riots.
Benjamin, “son of my right hand,” came next. Jacob said he would be like a ravenous wolf who, in the morning, would devour his prey and in the evening, divide his spoil. Like a believer who believes Jesus gave him authority over all Satan’s authority. Moses also blessed them when they were ready to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. He said Benjamin would dwell safely as beloved of the Lord who would cover him all day long as he made his dwelling between his shoulders. I’m always reminded of the mothers and babies when we were in Uganda. A baby slept peacefully, securely and safely on mama’s back while she went about her day. (my photo of my daughter learning to carry a baby as mama did)
It wasn’t how I carried my babies, but as I watched the Ugandan women, I began to understand Benjamin’s wonderful, well-cared for position.
Dan followed, “executes judgment, brings justice.” I’m grateful for those who are specifically called to bring justice in this day, whether racial justice, or as first responders.
Asher then came, “fortunate, happy.” We are blessed when we hear and obey. Deuteronomy 28:2 says blessings will overtake us! When we act on what God calls us to do and do it His way, we cannot outrun the blessings of God!
Naphtali brings up the rear. Jacob said he would “struggle, wrestle to obtain.” But as they prepared to cross into the Promised Land, Moses blessed him. 23 About Naphtali he said: “Naphtali is abounding with the favor of the LORD and is full of his blessing; he will inherit southward to the lake.” Deuteronomy 33:23 (NIV)
Lately, God has been asking me if I trust Him. With my family, my health, my finances, my daughter’s new business, all the politics and chaos. These movement instructions have settled me.
Do you feel like it’s time to move on? Leave this all behind? Then follow God.
I love what followed the presence of God! Fruitfulness where we suffered! Forgetting all the pain of it, even all our wounds and suffering clear back to Adam. Victory and safety in God’s protection! And the blessing kept coming!
Where we have been struggling and wrestling with all this, we are now abounding with the favor of the Lord and full of His blessing.
Where you have been struggling and wrestling with all this, you can now be abounding with the favor of the Lord and full of His blessing!
Carol Boggess, author and speaker at A Healing Journey
Carol Boggess © 2020
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts
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