Psalm 73: 2, 22-26 – “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”
One of the priorities of parenting is providing for and protecting your children, and one of the simple ways that we do this is to simply hold their hand. We do this to keep them safe when crossing a street, or to keep them from getting lost in a crowd, or to keep them from falling when they stumble and lose their footing. Just as a parent takes their child by the hand, so the Lord takes his children by the hand, and teaches them to walk by faith in Him, Hosea 11:3 says “I myself taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him.” It is our Heavenly Father that holds our hand securely as we stumble in sin and trip over the temptations. It is this reassuring hand holding ours that enables us to rest safe and secure in the uncertainty of life’s journey. Our flesh and our faith will fail but our faithful God will not let go. I think we can all identify with the psalmist when he says in verse 2: “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.” We all face a variety of issues that threaten to cause us to slip and stumble. For the psalmist seeing the prosperity of the wicked caused him to question the goodness of God. He found himself standing at the edge of a deep precipice, not fully aware of its danger, having almost having fallen in. Here we are reminded of the importance of holding on to God, keeping our eyes and faith on Him. It was God who squeezed his hand and reassured him that, given the judgment of God, the wicked do not really prosper. He discovered that true prosperity, is found in the fact that God is always with us holding our hand and guide us through the good and the bad to our ultimately destination, home with Him in heaven. It is what we discover about the heart of the Father during these hand holding moments that causes to rely and rest on Him. The first thing we learn is:
- God’s Grace.
Verse 23: “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand” This verse contains the two precious mercies of His presence and protection. Yet what is amazing is that they were both given to one who confessed himself a fool, one who fell short. Asaph was sustained and kept by God in the land of the living, he was permitted to abide in God’s presence. He was allowed to hope in God’s mercy, despite his doubts about the justice of God’s divine administration. Or his envy at the prosperity of evil, and his spirit of complaining against God. The amazing grace here is that he is not driven far away from God, banished from God’s blessings, cut off from his favor and cursed. We should all marvel at His mercy when we reflect on our questioning and doubts about God. There is a note of amazement here, amazement over the unfailing grace and faithfulness of the Almighty. Have we have lost the wonder and amazement of His hand holding grace? It is as if Asaph is looking back over his life and saying, “I wouldn’t expect this; because if God were as I, He would and should have quit with me a long ago. Yet, nevertheless, beyond expectation, and to my utter amazement, God has not forsaken me. Despite my rebellion, despite my questioning, despite my discontent with His ways, He is continually with me.” The amazing grace of God is seen it that no matter how horrible I am He still holds my hand. Have you experienced the holy hand of God, the unbelievable truth that God never forsakes His kids? Asaph understood that God was constantly and continually with him, even when he was far from God, disenfranchised and distrusting, like a sulking, spoiled child. Yet, never once did God remove His faithful hand of power and provision. The picture he paints is of a little child who is sullen and stubborn, intent on his own way, and of a patient father who holds that child by the hand. It is a picture of tenderness, strength and wisdom. Asaph saw how far he’d fallen, he had become brutish, a beast out of touch with God. Like Asaph we too spend so many of our days living as beasts, senseless and ignorant, we slip, and stumble and fall into sin. Our ignorant thinking is seen in the way we think that the only things of value are the things of this earth. We doubt God and question His ways, yet He holds our hand, coming along side of us and comforts us with His covenant. This is the lesson that we need to let flood our souls, the lesson of His amazing grace.
- God’s Guidance
“You guide me with your counsel” Asaph is no longer murmuring or complain, but entrust it all to God, allow himself to be led according to God’s instruction. Its easy to question God especially when things don’t seem to make sense, but its in these times that we need to engage in a little holy reasoning. Because God has shown Himself faithful in the past, I can trust Him even in my present panic. Yet its not just our past and our present we can trust Him with its also our future, Asaph reminds us that God wants to guide us into glory, so we can be with Him at home in heaven. Into a world where we will no longer doubt His divine dispensations, questioning the principles of His government. This is not a life left to chance, one of random roaming, where we have to trying to make our own way in life. Our future is not as some think, simply in the cards, where all we can do is hope for the best. This is not a far off impersonal God, but one of grace, guiding us with His loving touch, holding our unsure hand. We have a guide that not only knows the way but is able to keep us on that way. In light of His grace and guidance Asaph now confesses God as his only desire and strength. He recognizes the frailty of man, our flesh is weak, plagued with the curse of sin, corrupted decaying and heading towards the grave. Our earthly life is like a shadow that quickly passes by. Our hearts faint within us, we become overwhelmed with our worries and cares, staggering and fainting as our courage fails. Only God can meet and satisfy the needs of our soul, and even after all the doubting and complaining there is no one who comes close to caring like God. Asaph discovers that God is now his everything, his soul is satisfied, there is a shift here from a focus on have not to have everything. We will never rest until we learn not to expect earthly things to satisfy our soul. We like Asaph need to look to the Savior for satisfaction where we will find His sufficiency for our every need. I wonder is this true for you? This is when God becomes our all, and we finally rest content knowing that no matter what He holds our hand. The lessons that the psalmist learned, through trial and tribulation he learned not by his head but in his heart. We only really learn as we are willing to live life with The Lord. When we do we are reminded of His amazing grace, that God never forsakes us, His guidance now and through the future; and that God is our only satisfaction and all-sufficient strength. While his affliction was unpleasant it had the beneficial effect of drawing him closer to God, his bitterness and complaining was replaced with worship and praise. Rather than dwelling on what material things he lacked, he delighted in the greatest blessing of all having a personal God, an intimate counselor and guide, a present and a future source of comfort and security. What will happen to us tomorrow, what stresses and sorrows will come our way, what difficulties and demands, we do not know. But we know that God will guide us with His grace holding our hand all the way home. Today no matter where you are or what circumstances you face take time to enjoy the journey hand in hand with your Father.