TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. God’s Preservation of His People

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Chapter 19  Part II

God’s Preservation of His People

As with verses which speak of God’s saving of his people, verses which speak of God’s preservation of his people are amongst the best-loved verses in the Bible. They contain some of the Bible’s great promises, which reassure us when we wonder if God has “lost our address”. As such they provide good reason for God’s people to trust in him and be at peace.

God Meets His People’s Needs

God cares for his people

Zec 10:3b  The Lord of Armies takes care of his flock, the people of Judah. He makes them like his splendid war horse.  GW

1Pet 5:6-7  [Peter, to believers:] And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand 7by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.  NET

God sustains his people

Ps 3:5  [David:] I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.  ESV

God meets his people’s physical needs

Prov 10:3  The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.  ESV

1Tim 6:17  [Paul, instructing Timothy what to teach believers:] As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  ESV

It can be inferred from the final clause that God provides us with everything we need (cf. CEV, NLT), with physical needs being primarily in view here.

God meets their physical needs even in harsh circumstances

Neh 9:21  [Levites, to God:] For forty years you sustained them. Even in the desert they never lacked anything. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.  NET

Ps 23:5  [David, to God:] You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  ESV

Even amidst adversaries, God provided for David – as implied by “prepare a table [feast] before me” and “my cup overflows”.

God satisfies his people’s spiritual hunger and thirst

Matt 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.  NET

John 6:35  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty.  NET

God provides for all their needs – they will not lack anything

Phil 4:19  [Paul, to believers who had supported him:] And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  NET

Luke 22:35  Then Jesus said to them [his disciples], “When I sent you out with no money bag, or traveler’s bag, or sandals, you didn’t lack anything, did you?” They replied, “Nothing.”  NET

Note: God is his people’s portion

Ps 73:25-26  [A psalmist, to God:] Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  ESV

The question (v. 25a) implies that not only did the psalmist not have anyone nor anything else in heaven, he also did not long for such. In saying that God was his “portion forever” (v. 26) the psalmist appears to mean that God was all he would ever need (cf. GNT) or desire (cf. v. 25b).

 Questions for Section A

God Strengthens His People

See also:

God is the strength of his people

Ps 28:7-8  [David:] The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. 8The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.  ESV

God strengthens his people

Eph 3:16  [Paul, to believers:] I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, …  NET

Phil 4:13  [Paul, referring to Christ:] I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  ESV

God strengthens his people when they are weak . . .

Isa 40:30-31  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  ESV

. . . God restores and renews his people

1Pet 5:10  [Peter, to believers:] After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you in the Messiah Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, establish you, strengthen you, and support you.  ISV

2Cor 4:16  [Paul:] Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  NET

God strengthens his people in the face of adversity

Ps 18:39  [David, to God:] You give me strength for battle; you make my foes kneel before me.  NET

2Tim 4:16-17  [Paul:] At my first defense no one appeared in my support; instead they all deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. 17But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message would be fully proclaimed for all the Gentiles to hear. And so I was delivered from the lion’s mouth!  NET

Note that in Paul’s letters “Lord” is generally understood to be a reference to Jesus Christ.

God strengthens them spiritually, until Jesus Christ’s return

Col 1:11  [Paul, to believers:] You are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you might patiently endure everything with joy …  ISV

1Cor 1:8  [Paul, to believers:] He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  NET

God encourages his people

2Thes 2:16-17  [Paul, to believers:] Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say.  NET

God heals his people

Ps 30:2  [David:] O Lord my God, I cried out to you and you healed me.  NET

James 5:14-16  [James, to believers:] Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up – and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.  NET

The topic of healing is a somewhat controversial one. Does God promise to heal all illness, if we have faith that he will? This passage and Psalms 103:3 support the affirmative. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 and the fact that numerous people of faith have remained ill after repeated prayer, suggest otherwise. However we do know that God wants his people to take all such needs to him in prayer, in assurance that he will hear and act for one’s ultimate good and in line with his will.

God also supports and upholds his people . . .

Ps 94:18  [A psalmist, to God:] If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O Lord, supports me.  NET

Ps 37:23-24  The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. 24Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.  NKJV

. . . God even carries them

Isa 46:3-4  [God:] Family of Jacob, listen to me! All you people from Israel who are still alive, listen! I have carried you since you were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. 4Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and will take care of you. I will carry you and save you.  NCV™

In supporting and upholding his people, God is at times figuratively spoken of as carrying them.

 Questions for Section B

God Protects His People (I): General

God protects his people

Josh 24:17b  [Joshua, to the Israelites:] He continually protected us as we traveled and when we passed through nations.  NET

Ps 32:7  [David, to God:] You are my hiding place; you protect me from distress. You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance. (Selah)  NET

God protects his people from enemies

Ps 31:20  You are their shelter from harmful plots, and you are their protection from vicious gossip.  CEV

Ps 91:14   The Lord says, “Because he is devoted to me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he is loyal to me.  NET

God preserves his people’s lives . . .

Ps 138:7  [David, to God:] Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.  ESV

. . . God keeps his people safe and secure

Ps 16:8-9  [David:] I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 9Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.  ESV

God protects his people from Satan and all evil

2Thes 3:3  [Paul, to believers:] But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.  NET

Ps 23:4  [David, to God:] Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  ESV

God and Jesus Christ keep their people as their own – until the end

John 6:39  [Jesus:] Now this is the will of the one who sent me – that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day.  NET

John 10:28-29  [Jesus:] I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  ESV

God and Jesus Christ keep their people as their own, in a right relationship with them. In doing so they shield their people from spiritual harm throughout their lives, bringing their salvation to fruition at the end of the age.

 Questions for Section C

God Protects His People (II): Depictions

God shields his people

Ps 33:20  [Godly people:] We wait on the Lord; he is our help and our shield.  ISV

Ps 140:7  [David, to God:] O sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle.  NET

God surrounds his people

Ps 125:2  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, now and forevermore.  NET

Ps 34:7  The Lord’s angel camps around the Lord’s loyal followers and delivers them.  NET

God is a refuge for his people

2Sam 22:2-3  He [David] said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 3my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.  ESV

God guards his people . . .

Ps 121:4-8  Look! The one who is guarding Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. 5The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade at your right side. 6The sun will not ravage you by day, nor the moon by night. 7The Lord will guard you from all evil, preserving your life. 8The Lord will guard your goings and comings, from this time on and forever.  ISV

Ps 91:11  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.  ESV

. . . God watches over his people

Prov 2:8  God sees that justice is done, and he watches over everyone who is faithful to him.  CEV

God is a shepherd to his people . . .

Ps 23:1-4  [David:] The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water. 3He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation. 4Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me.  NET

In portraying God as a shepherd (and his people as sheep) the Bible points to how God protects, rescues, leads, provides and generally cares for his people. In conjunction with this, the analogy depicts his close relationship with his people.

. . . Jesus Christ is a shepherd to his people

John 10:14-15  [Jesus:] I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me – … 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.  NET

 Questions for Section D

Epilogue: God’s Care of the Needy

Bear in mind that while many verses in the Bible assert that God looks after the needy (as most of this section shows), the Bible also speaks of the suffering of the needy (as per the first two subsections). As such the Bible often speaks of God delivering the needy as opposed to keeping them from experiencing any troubles – just as it often speaks of God saving his people out of troubles as opposed to keeping them from experiencing any troubles, though the latter is also spoken of. (See also the introductory comments on God’s Saving of His People, and God saves them out of all troubles.)

Also note that many of the references in this section may also have primarily in view the poor amongst the Israelites. Under the first covenant the Israelites – including the poor – experienced God’s care and blessings in a more material way than his people generally do under the current second covenant, with the second covenant’s blessings being largely spiritual and of the afterlife. Additionally, keep in mind that much of the teaching in this section is often interpreted as generality.

In considering the plight of the needy and God’s response, we should also remember that the Bible often refers to God working through his people to achieve his purposes. One can infer from this that a good part of what God does to secure justice and protection for the needy – as spoken of in this section – he does through his people.

The needy are often mistreated by the wicked and made to suffer

Job 20:19  For he [a wicked person] has oppressed the poor and abandoned them; he has seized a house which he did not build.  NET

Eccl 4:1  [A wise teacher:] So I again considered all the oppression that continually occurs on earth. This is what I saw: The oppressed were in tears, but no one was comforting them; no one delivers them from the power of their oppressors.  NET

However, God rescues the needy

Ps 35:10  [David:] With all my strength I will say, “O Lord, who can compare to you? You rescue the oppressed from those who try to overpower them; the oppressed and needy from those who try to rob them.  NET

Ps 109:31  [David, speaking of God:] For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.  ESV

God secures justice for the needy

Ps 140:12  [David:] I know that the Lord will act on behalf of the tormented, providing justice for the needy.  ISV

God protects and is a refuge for the needy

Ps 12:5  “Because of the violence done to the oppressed, because of the painful cries of the needy, I will spring into action,” says the Lord. “I will provide the safety they so desperately desire.”  NET

Isa 25:4a  You [God] have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rain, and shade from the heat.  GW

God provides for the needy

Ps 68:10b  Out of your goodness, O God, you provided for oppressed people.  GW

 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians