- God Meets His People’s Needs
- God Strengthens His People
- God Protects His People (I): General
- God Protects His People (II): Depictions
- Epilogue: God’s Care of the Needy
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 cares for his people
- God sustains his people
- God meets his people’s physical needs . . .
- . . . God satisfies his people’s physical needs
- God meets their physical needs even in harsh circumstances . . .
- . . . Further specific examples
- God satisfies his people’s spiritual hunger and thirst
- God will provide for all his people’s needs – they will not lack anything
- Note: God is his people’s portion
Note that this subsection points to the overall theme of this chapter. As such it is reflected in and pertinent to the whole chapter.
Deut 32:10-12 He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him [Israel], he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. 11Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, 12the Lord alone guided him, no foreign god was with him. ▤
The reference is to the Israelites as a whole.
b Hebrew the male goats
In contrast to the above verses, Peter is talking about God caring about his people (cf. NCV, NLT, NIrV) rather than actually taking care of them. However the latter is implied (cf. AMP).
This indicates that God “cared for” (NASB, NCV, NIV; cf. CEV, GNT, NLT) Israel, during her desert ordeal.
c Hebrew him
Zeph 2:7 The seacoast shall become the possession of the remnant of the house of Judah, on which they shall graze, and in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the Lord their God will be mindful of them and restore their fortunes. ▤
The suggestion is that “God will care for them” (NASB, NIV).
d Hebrew you turn all his bed
The reference is to “one who considers the poor” (v. 1).
Isa 50:4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. ▤
The words of this prophecy are attributed to the Messiah. As such it indicates that Jesus Christ sustains God’s people.
It can be inferred from the final clause that God provides us with everything we need (cf. CEV, NLT) and more, with physical needs being primarily in view here.
Such promises are characteristic of God’s covenant with Israel.
Deut 32:13-14 He made him ride on the high places of the land, and he ate the produce of the field, and he suckled him with honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock. 14Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock, with fate of lambs, rams of Bashan and goats, with the very finestf of the wheat— and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape. ▤
e That is, with the best
f Hebrew with the kidney fat
The “honey out of the rock” (v. 13b) refers to honey being found in cracks in rocks and in between rocks. The subsequent phrase, the “oil out of the flinty rock”, speaks of olive trees growing in rocky soil (cf. CEV, GNT, NIrV).
Neh 9:25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness. ▤
The people are encouraged to look to God to fulfill their needs – and he will do so, fully.
Ezek 34:14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. ▤
Joel 2:23 Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. ▤
While a number of the verses in the adjacent subsections reflect that God satisfies his people’s physical needs, the verses in this section specifically say that God “satisfied” or “satisfies” his people’s physical needs. Note that the contexts of some indicate a future fulfillment. Also note that some of the verses in this and the following subsection clearly have a spiritual application.
g Or The meek
The meaning of the Hebrew in the first half of the verse is unclear (cf. text notes of CEV, GNT, NRSV). It appears to be saying either that God satisfies us with good things (cf. NCV, NRSV) or that God fills our lives with good things (cf. NCV, NLT). The “good” probably refers to physical provisions and other blessings.
Jer 31:14, 25 I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord.” ▤ … 25For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish. ▤
Food appears to be primarily in view here.
Matt 15:36-37 … he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. ▤
Deuteronomy 8:4 likewise says of Israel’s time in the desert: “Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years.” God’s provision for the Israelites in the desert is further referred to below in Psalms 78:23-29 and Isaiah 48:21.
Even amidst adversaries, God provided for David – as implied by the clauses “prepare a table before me” and “my cup overflows”. Note that the anointing of a guest’s head with oil was a way of welcoming or honoring the guest (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT).
Ps 78:23-29 Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven, 24and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. 25Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance. 26He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind; 27he rained meat on them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas; 28he let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings. 29And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved. ▤
The reference is to the incidents in Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:2-11).
This and the remaining passages, from Isaiah, all may well have both literal and figurative (or spiritual) applications. Some of the passages are often understood to refer initially to the return from exile in Babylon, with the making of a way through the desert and provision of water in it. The passages have both literal and spiritual applications today, with the references to provision of water applicable to spiritual blessings. Some commentators think they will have a final fulfillment at the end of this age, with the accompanying deliverance for God’s people and the renewal of creation.
Isa 41:17-18 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. ▤
Isa 43:19-21 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise. ▤
Isa 44:2-3 Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. 3For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. ▤
Isa 49:9-10 … saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture; 10they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. ▤
The work of the messianic servant (cf. vv. 1-8) is ultimately in view here. As such this may simply be using physical images to portray spiritual blessings.
Isa 58:11 And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. ▤
Here “desire” is probably referring to – or at least applicable to – spiritual needs as well as physical ones.
Gen 21:14-19 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. ▤
Gen 45:6-7, 10-11 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. ▤ … 10You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty. ▤
This is speaking of God providing food for his people when there had been a famine (cf. v. 1).
A “redeemer” had a responsibility to care for any needy amongst their extended family. The one referred to here was a newly born boy (cf. v. 13), related to Naomi through Ruth. Naomi had been widowed and her future was bleak. But through loyal Ruth’s marriage to Boaz, God provided for Naomi in her widowhood – first by Ruth’s marriage to the wealthy Boaz, and here by the birth of their son.
1Ki 17:7-9 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. 8Then the word of the Lord came to him, 9“Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” ▤
2Ki 3:8-9, 16-17, 20 Then he said, “By which way shall we march?” Jehoram answered, “By the way of the wilderness of Edom.” 9So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the animals that followed them. ▤ … 16And he [Elisha] said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools.’ 17For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.’ ▤ … 20The next morning, about the time of offering the sacrifice, behold, water came from the direction of Edom, till the country was filled with water. ▤
2Ki 4:1-7 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” 2And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” 3Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” 5So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” ▤
- Without God no one can eat, or find enjoyment:
Eccl 2:24-25 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoymenth in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25for apart from himi who can eat or who can have enjoyment? ▤
h Or and make his soul see good
i Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts apart from me
Note that this verse does not just refer to God’s people.
As mentioned earlier, note that some of the previous subsections have verses which appear to have a spiritual application intended.
In saying that his “soul will be satisfied” David appears to be referring to the spiritual satisfaction he experiences in association with praising God (v. 5b; cf. vv. 3-4) – quite possibly with his deliverance in view.
The “goodness of your house” may refer to – and is at least applicable to – the spiritual blessings that come from God’s presence, where one can have communion with God.
Isa 55:1-3 Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. ▤
This is primarily speaking of spiritual thirst, hunger and nourishment, as indicated in v. 3. Jesus Christ similarly uses thirst/water and hunger/bread imagery in a spiritual sense (cf. Matt 5:6 ↓; John 4:14 ↓; John 6:35 ↓; John 7:37 ↓), perhaps alluding to this passage from Isaiah. Note that the fact that God does satisfy one’s spiritual needs is underlined here by the reference to other things not satisfying (v. 2).
John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.j The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” ▤
j Greek forever
Those who are nourished with spiritual “water” – who absorb and live on Jesus’ teaching – will gain spiritual, eternal life.
Jesus speaks of himself as the source of spiritual life. The phrases “shall not hunger” and “shall never thirst” indicate that one’s spiritual needs will always be satisfied in him.
John 7:37-39 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, ask the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ▤
k Or let him come to me, and let him who believes in me drink. As
John 10:9-10 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ▤
In v. 9 Jesus claims to be the door leading into salvation, through which one can find pasture – provision for one’s spiritual needs. Jesus’ provision for one’s needs is reflected by his claim to bring abundance of life (v. 10).
Here Paul refers to the manna and the water from out of a rock that was supplied to the Israelites in their journey through the desert. He may be speaking figuratively, referring to such “spiritual” food and drink to portray the spiritual sustenance that God gives to his people, ultimately through Christ (v. 4b). Alternatively the description of the food and drink as “spiritual” may refer to its supernatural provision and, as some commentators maintain, Paul may be asserting that the pre-incarnate Christ was actually the one who imparted the provisions to the Israelites.
- In heaven, God’s people will never again hunger or thirst:
This is applicable to both spiritual and physical hunger and thirst, although the absence of physical hardship resulting from faithfulness to God may primarily be in view.
Jacob may well be implying that it was because of God’s gracious dealings with him that he could say: “I have everything I need” (CEV; cf. GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).
l Or all contentment
In the first part of the verse Paul is referring to the magnitude of God’s provision. He speaks of it as being in accordance with or reflective of God’s incredible riches emanating in and through Jesus Christ. Note that the phrase “in glory” may be referring to: the glory of his riches (“glorious riches” NIV, NLT); or God’s glory, which encompasses his riches.
m Or by
n Or virtue
God gives us “everything we need” (CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT) for life in general and for living a godly life.
As well providing for his people by giving them things – as per most of the other verses in this subsection – God provides his people with such things as protection.
Deut 2:7 For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” ▤
During the mission that Jesus had sent them on without any provisions (cf. 9:1-6; 10:1-4), the disciples did not lack anything.
1Cor 1:4-7 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, … ▤
As a church the Corinthians did not lack any spiritual gift.
- “The Lord will provide”:
Gen 22:1-2, 7-14 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” ▤ … 7And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. 9When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 12He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”;o as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”p ▤
o Or will see
p Or he will be seen
God is his people’s portion – all that they need.
q Hebrew rock
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).
Just as he is the portion of each of his people, this speaks of God being the portion of his people as a whole.
Knowing God to be his portion, Jeremiah could confidently wait for God to supply what he needed.
David indicates here that God is – and is the source of – all he has (cf. GNT), needs (cf. NCV) or wants (cf. CEV).
- God is the strength of his people
- God strengthens his people
- God strengthens his people when they are weak . . .
- . . . God restores and renews his people
- God strengthens his people in the face of adversity
- God strengthens them spiritually, until Jesus Christ’s return
- God encourages his people
- God heals his people
- God also supports and upholds his people . . .
- . . . God even carries his people
- God Works through His People (II): Empowerment
- [Reasons to exalt God:] God’s strength for his people
The strength of God’s people comes primarily from him. As such they look to him for strength and draw strength from him.
Ps 28:7-8 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;r he is the saving refuge of his anointed. ▤
r Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts is their strength
s Or well proved
t Hebrew lacks to Zion
This refers to the Israelites journeying to Jerusalem for religious festivals. The phrase “strength to strength” implies that the people grow stronger (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT) in their journey.
The first clause suggests that the strength of God’s people is in a sense glorious and comes from God.
This is from Moses’ blessing on the tribe of Asher. He speaks of her towns (cf. CEV, GNT) being secure and God strengthening its people all of their days.
a Hebrew horn
b Or The Lord will give . . . The Lord will bless
c Hebrew you made me bold in my soul with strength
Eph 3:14-16 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every familyd in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, … ▤
d Or fatherhood; the Greek word patria is closely related to the word for Father in verse 14
2Thes 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. ▤
Paul prays that the Thessalonians would be encouraged, and given strength – “strengthen your hearts” (NASB; cf. AMP, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV) in everything they did and said for the Lord.
Paul is referring to Jesus Christ strengthening him.
e Hebrew horn
1Ki 18:44-46 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” 45And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. ▤
This illustrates God’s strengthening of his people, as it suggests that Elijah runs for some distance ahead of Ahab who was in a chariot.
Isa 40:27-31 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30Even 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. ▤
Note that Israel’s dismay in v. 27 reflects its weakened state.
Ezek 34:16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.f I will feed them in justice. ▤
f Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate I will watch over
g Hebrew rock
1Ki 19:3-8 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. ▤
h Hebrew beside waters of rest
i Or in right paths
Joel 2:23-26 Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. 24“The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. 25I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. 26“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. ▤
God would restore Judah, sending her plentiful rain “as before” (v. 23). In so doing he would “restore” (v. 25) to the people the fruitfulness of the years which had been devastated by a horrendous locust plague.
Zec 1:16-17 Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the Lord of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. 17Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem. ▤
The “measuring line” (v. 16) seems to refer to work involved in reconstruction, alluding to the restoration of Jerusalem. Restoration of Jerusalem is reflected in v. 17.
Zec 10:6 I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them. ▤
j Greek man
Isa 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. ▤
- Turning to God brings “times of refreshing” from the Lord:
Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, 20that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, … ▤
The “times of refreshing” speaks of spiritual refreshing – “times of spiritual strength” (GNT).
Ps 18:32-34, 39 … the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. 33He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. 34He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. ▤ … 39For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. ▤
Isa 28:5-6 In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory,k 6and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. ▤
k The Hebrew words for glory and hosts sound alike
Isa 58:11 And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. ▤
Zec 10:11-12 He shall pass through the sea of troubles and strike down the waves of the sea, and all the depths of the Nile shall be dried up. The pride of Assyria shall be laid low, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart. 12I will make them strong in the Lord, and they shall walk in his name,” declares the Lord. ▤
A number of other modern translations interpret v. 11a as speaking of God’s people passing through “the sea of troubles” (cf. CEV, GNT, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV). If this is the case, then these verses would tell of God strengthening his people (v. 12) amidst “the sea of troubles” (v. 11).
Zec 12:3-5 On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it. 4On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. 5Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the Lord of hosts, their God.’ ▤
2Tim 4:16-17 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. ▤
l Or evil
Paul is probably speaking of the Lord strengthening them (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV) – along with protecting them – in the face of Satan’s attacks, i.e. the trials and temptations that Satan initiates.
Judg 7:10-11, 13-15 But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. 11And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp. ▤ … 13When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” 14And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.” 15As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” ▤
- God’s strengthening of Samson amidst his enemies:
Judg 16:23, 25-30 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” ▤ … 25And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26And Samson said to the young man who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained. 28Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. ▤
- Ps 10:17 ⇑; 2Tim 4:16-17 ⇑; 2Thes 3:3 ⇑
- 2Thes 2:16-17 ⇓
- God and Jesus Christ keep their people as their own – until the end
- God and Jesus Christ strengthen their people amidst trials
A number of the verses in the previous subsections also have a spiritual application.
m Or down payment
The first clause points to God making us strong in Christ (cf. NCV), to stand firm in Christ (cf. CEV, NIV, NLT).
1Thes 3:12-13 … and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. ▤
The first clause in v. 13 speaks of Christ spiritually strengthening believers so that they will be “blameless in holiness” (cf. AMP, GNT, NASB, NCV, NIV, NRSV).
1Thes 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. ▤
God sanctifies his people, which has the effect of making them stronger spiritually. In conjunction with this, he keeps them blameless – until Jesus Christ’s return.
- God will carry on his work in each of his people until it is completed on Jesus Christ’s return:
God will finish the “good work” (of making believers more like Christ) that he has begun. One implication of this is that God will continue to sanctify (cf. 1Thes 5:23 ↑) and strengthen his people, until Christ returns.
Paul thanking God for the appearance of these men suggests that he considered that God was ultimately behind their arrival and the encouragement that this brought him.
Rom 15:4-5 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, … ▤
The reference to God as the “God of endurance and encouragement” (v. 5) reflects that he is the source of “the encouragement of the Scriptures” (v. 4) – him being the originator of the Scriptures.
One implication here is that believers do have encouragement in Christ.
Heb 6:17-18 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. ▤
God gave his promise (one pertaining to salvation) and confirmed it with his oath to greatly encourage those who grasp the hope offered in the promise.
- Jesus Christ and God our Father give believers much comfort:
2Thes 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. ▤
In v. 16 Paul speaks of the “eternal comfort” along with the hope that God has given believers (cf. Heb 6:18 ↑) through what he has accomplished in Jesus Christ.
The topic of healing is a somewhat controversial one. Does God promise to heal all illness, if we have faith that he will? Psalms 103:3 and James 5:14-16 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.
Note that spiritual and physical health (and healing) are often linked (cf. comment below on Ps 103:2-3). Some of the following verses may have both kinds of healing in view.
Ex 15:26 … saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” ▤
n Hebrew you turn all his bed
This speaks of “one who considers the poor” (v. 1).
The coupling of healing and forgiveness may imply that the psalmist linked at least some diseases to sin (cf. James 5:14-16 ↓).
James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing 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. 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.o ▤
o Or The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power
For comment, see James 5:14-15 – under Believe and do not doubt that what you ask will be granted.
Emotional healing is in view here.
Ezek 34:16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.p I will feed them in justice. ▤
p Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate I will watch over
As with Psalms 147:3 immediately above, this speaks of God healing people amongst the exiles of Israel that he had gathered and brought back home (cf. v. 2).
Mark 5:27-29, 34 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. ▤ … 34And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” ▤
For further examples of Jesus healing people during his mission, see Jesus delivered people from disease and disorders.
- The Lord did not remove Paul’s “thorn”:
2Cor 12:7-9 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,q a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ▤
q Or hears from me, even because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations. So to keep me from becoming conceited
Paul’s “thorn” in his flesh appears to have been a physical disorder. The Lord used Paul’s affliction both to keep him from becoming conceited (v. 7) and to make him receptive to Christ’s power working in him (v. 9).
As noted earlier in the chapter, God’s “right hand” signifies his mighty power, with the right hand being spoken of as the stronger hand.
Ps 37:17, 23-24 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. ▤ … 23The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; 24though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. ▤
Those “who are bowed down” appear to be ones who have buckled under the weight of their troubles – “those bent beneath their loads” (NLT).
u Septuagint; Hebrew peoples
v Hebrew your
w The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
God’s people are in his hand, which suggests that he upholds them – as well as “protects” them (CEV, GNT).
x Or a dwelling place
y Revocalization of verse 27 yields He subdues the ancient gods, and shatters the forces of old
This portrays God as supporting and upholding his people.
In supporting and upholding his people, God is at times figuratively spoken of as carrying or bearing them.
God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and safely bringing them to their camp at Mount Sinai is here likened to how “a mighty eagle carries its young” (CEV; cf. GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT). Similar imagery is used below in Deuteronomy 32:10-11.
Deut 1:30-31 The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place. ▤
Deut 32:10-11 He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. 11Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, … ▤
A bird’s pinions are the outer parts of its wings.
Isa 46:3-4 Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; 4even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. ▤
z Or he did not afflict
Josh 24:17 … for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. ▤
The “simple” are those who are honest, innocent and without deception. Some see in the term a reference to “those of childlike faith” (NLT).
Note that protection from enemies is also largely in view in a number of the verses in the other subsections in this section.
Ps 124:1-6 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side— let Israel now say— 2if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, 3then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; 4then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; 5then over us would have gone the raging waters. 6Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth! ▤
Zec 9:15 The Lord of hosts will protect them, and they shall devour, and tread down the sling stones, and they shall drink and roar as if drunk with wine, and be full like a bowl, drenched like the corners of the altar. ▤
Note that the second part of the verse speaks of the people shedding the blood of their enemies.
Zec 12:8 On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them. ▤
This speaks of deliverance of Jerusalem in the end times.
Ex 14:19-20 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the nightr without one coming near the other all night. ▤
r Septuagint and the night passed
Through “the angel of God” and the cloud that signified God’s presence, the Egyptians were blocked throughout the night from attacking the Israelites.
Jer 36:26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son and Seraiah the son of Azriel and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the secretary and Jeremiah the prophet, but the Lord hid them. ▤
- God’s revelation to Jeremiah of a plot against him:
Note that following on from the previous subsection regarding God protecting his people from enemies, the following verses largely have in view God’s preservation of his people’s lives in the face of enemy threat.
1Sam 25:29 If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. ▤
This speaks of God preserving his people’s lives amidst a great famine.
Acts 28:3-5 When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justices has not allowed him to live.” 5He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. ▤
s Or justice
Presumably Paul survived the deadly snakebite due to God’s care of him, preserving his life.
The psalmist appears to be speaking of the strength and meaning he found in God’s word during his affliction, which had effectively preserved his life.
t Septuagint; Hebrew dwells in safety by him. He
The last phrase is either speaking of: the people dwelling in the safety of God’s presence; or God dwelling in the midst of the people, to keep them safe.
u Hebrew the abode of Jacob was alone
Lev 25:18-19 Therefore you shall do my statutes and keep my rules and perform them, and then you will dwell in the land securely. 19The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and dwell in it securely. ▤
Ps 16:5, 8-10 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. ▤ … 8I 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 beingv rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.w ▤
v Hebrew my glory
w Or see the pit
In v. 5, “hold my lot” can be rendered “maintain my lot” (AMP, NKJV), thus meaning: “you have made my lot secure” (NIV®). In v. 9-10 David appears to be speaking of being secure in the face of death, when under threat from enemies, rather then actually in death (cf. Acts 2:24-33).
This speaks of God keeping Jerusalem safe for ever.
- John 10:28-29 ⇓; Rom 8:38-39 ⇓
- . . . For God and Jesus Christ are willing and able to help us withstand temptation
x Or the valley of deep darkness
A shepherd used a rod to fight off wild animals and a staff to guide and control the sheep. They are used here to portray God’s care and protection (cf. GNT, NLT) and so his comfort of his people – even amidst evil.
Num 23:7-8, 23 And Balaam took up his discourse and said, “From Aram Balak has brought me, the king of Moab from the eastern mountains: ‘Come, curse Jacob for me, and come, denounce Israel!’ 8How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced? ▤ … 23For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, ‘What has God wrought!’ ▤
Balaam, a pagan seer or diviner, was powerless to curse Israel (v. 8) – or use sorcery or divination against her (v. 23) – as God had not cursed Israel (v. 8) but rather blessed them (v. 23). In fact Balaam was compelled to likewise bless them (cf. ch. 23-24; Deut 23:5 ↓).
y The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar
z Greek the gates of Hades
The “gates of Hades” could be a reference to evil powers – “all the powers of hell” (NLT; cf. NIV text note, AMP) – but it may in particular denote “death” (CEV, GNT, NCV).
As the first part of the sentence probably refers to evil spiritual powers (cf. vv. 17, 20) and to Satan, “the enemy”, it is a fair assumption that Jesus was primarily referring to such evil forces in saying that nothing would harm his followers.
a Or evil
The “he who was born of God” is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
God and Jesus Christ keep their people as their own, in a right relationship with them. In doing so they protect their people from spiritual harm throughout their lives, bringing their salvation to fruition at the end of the age.
Jesus is speaking primarily of not losing any of all the people who God has given him (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT; John 18:8-9 ↓).
John 10:28-29 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,b is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. ▤
b Some manuscripts What my Father has given to me
The context shows Jesus to be referring firstly to physically not losing any of his disciples; but possibly the statement is also alluding to a spiritual dimension – applicable to not losing any of his followers. Note that the quotation attributed to Jesus in v. 9 (cf. John 17:12 ↓) is based on his words from 6:39 above.
John 17:11-12, 15 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. ▤ … 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.c ▤
c Or from evil
This request, it being made by Jesus, is effectively a promise of God’s protection from Satan (v. 15) and all that is in the world (v. 11).
Rom 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ▤
There is nothing in all creation that can separate believers from God’s love which is theirs in or “through” (GNT) Christ. This points to the fact that God and Jesus Christ keep their followers, in a right and close relationship with them.
1Pet 1:4-5 … to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. ▤
d Or slave; Greek bondservant
e Or by
The term “stumbling” would appear to mean falling into sin or error – both of which are grave dangers of false teachers who are so prominent in Jude’s letter. The term could alternatively, or additionally, allude to actually falling away from the faith, the result of unchecked sin or error.
This is speaking of the renewed Israel of the end time, reflective of the fact that God keeps his people.
f Or what I have entrusted to him; Greek my deposit
If the alternative rendering in the text note is to be preferred (cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV), then Paul would appear to be speaking of trusting God to guard his ministry and its fruits, along with himself – even through death.
- God is not willing that any of his “little ones” be lost:
Matt 18:12-14 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of myg Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. ▤
g Some manuscripts your
The term “little ones” is understood by most to refer to believers, possibly in particular to young or new ones.
- God shields his people
- God surrounds his people
- God is a refuge for his people
- God is a rock for his people
- God guards and keeps his people . . .
- . . . God watches over his people, keeping his eyes on them
- God is a shepherd to his people . . .
- . . . Jesus Christ is a shepherd to his people
- Further depictions of God’s protection
Deut 33:29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs. ▤
A “buckler” was a small shield.
The phrase “covered my head” has the sense “shields my head” (NIV®). A similar point can be made regarding “covered” in Isaiah 51:16 immediately below.
h Or planting
In likening God to “shade”, the psalmist is speaking of God as covering his people (cf. Isa 51:16 ↑), shielding them from harm.
i Septuagint; Hebrew dwells in safety by him. He
As noted earlier, the last phrase is either speaking of: the people dwelling in the safety of God’s presence; or God dwelling in the midst of the people, to keep them safe. If the first alternative is correct, the phrase is suggestive of the people being surrounded by God, as per the preceding clause.
God’s steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts him, indicative of God himself surrounding them.
Zec 2:4b-5 ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. 5And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst.’ ▤
Here the renewed future Jerusalem appears to be ultimately in view.
2Ki 6:15-17 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. ▤
Verse 17 tells of Elisha’s servant being enabled to see the surrounding heavenly forces – the “horses and chariots of fire”.
If “your righteousness” refers to God (cf. GNT, NCV, NRSV), this would speak of God both going before his people and being their rear guard, akin to surrounding them.
- Ps 94:22 ⇓
- God protects and is a refuge for the needy
- God is a refuge for his people, protecting them
- Commit yourself to God and take refuge in him . . .
- . . . For God saves and protects those who take refuge in him
Ps 142:4-5 Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. 5I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” ▤
2Sam 22:2-3 He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 3myj 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. ▤
j Septuagint (compare Psalm 18:2); Hebrew lacks my
Similarly, in conjunction with God being a refuge, a number of the following verses speak of God as a “fortress” or a “stronghold” (or a “strong tower”).
Prov 14:26, 32 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. ▤ … 32The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing, but the righteous finds refuge in his death. ▤
Verse 26 indicates that when a man (or woman) fears God, his household will have a refuge in God. Verse 32b suggests that the righteous find a refuge “even in death” (AMP, NCV, NIV; cf. CEV), due to what will follow.
Jer 16:19 O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit. ▤
k Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts is their strength
l Or refuge
m Some Hebrew manuscripts (compare Septuagint) our refuge
As reflected in the text note, “dwelling place” has the sense of refuge (cf. AMP) and/or place of repose.
Isa 4:5-6 Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. 6There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain. ▤
This is seen by many as referring to the messianic age. Such blessing for Mount Zion and the people there is applicable in a spiritual sense to the church.
References to God as a “rock” depict him as a secure mountain or stronghold of infallible strength, to whom his people can go for protection.
Ps 18:2, 31, 46 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. ▤ … 31For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?— ▤ … 46The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation— ▤
Gen 49:23-24 The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, 24yet his bow remained unmoved; his armsn were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd,o the Stone of Israel), … ▤
n Hebrew the arms of his hands
o Or by the name of the Shepherd
p Or fathered
As used in this subsection, the term “keep” means to guard, watch over and protect.
Due to the context, many commentators see this angel as possibly being the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ or as being identified with God himself. Whether or not it is simply an angel, this verse illustrates the fact that God guards his people, whether directly or through his agents (cf. Ps 91:11-12 ↓).
q Or guard him
Here “them” most likely denotes the poor and needy (cf. v. 5).
God commands his angels to guard his people. As such, figuratively speaking they lift them up out of the way of harm.
r Or what I have entrusted to him; Greek my deposit
As noted earlier, as per the alternative rendering in the text note, Paul may be speaking of trusting God to guard himself, along with his ministry and its fruits – even through death.
1Pet 1:4-5 … to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. ▤
Ps 121:3-8 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. ▤
s Many Hebrew manuscripts A vineyard of wine
The “vineyard” is symbolic of Israel.
Ex 12:42 It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. ▤
This points to God watching over his people.
This speaks of God watching over the Jews and their work of rebuilding the temple, so that they were not stopped while their enemies’ accusations were being dealt with.
Zec 12:4 On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. ▤
- Joseph and Laban’s oath at Mizpah:
t Mizpah means watchpost
Although sometimes applied as a blessing, in context this appears to be speaking of God watching that each of them did the right thing by the other.
The Bible at times portrays God and Jesus Christ as shepherds (and their people as sheep). As such they protect, rescue, lead, provide and generally care for their people. In conjunction with this, they have a close relationship with their people.
Ps 23:1-4 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.u 3He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousnessv for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,w I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ▤
u Hebrew beside waters of rest
v Or in right paths
w Or the valley of deep darkness
Similarly Psalms 77:20a says, “You led your people like a flock…”
x Or and not we ourselves
Ezek 34:11-16 For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.y I will feed them in justice. ▤
y Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate I will watch over
Verses 11-16a speak of God gathering his from Babylon and other places where they had been scattered, and bringing them back to the land of Israel. In v. 16, “the sleek and the strong” are the powerful among the people who oppress the others.
z Hebrew of Carmel
a Hebrew the male goats
Matt 18:12-14 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of myb Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. ▤
b Some manuscripts your
Jesus Christ is in view with “my servant David” referring to the Messiah, of David’s line.
John 10:2-4, 11, 14-16 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. ▤ … 11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. ▤ … 14I 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. 16And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. ▤
Verse 16 refers to non-Jews, from among whom would come those who Jesus, as “the good shepherd”, would unite with Jewish believers to make “one flock”.
1Pet 5:2-4 … shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,c not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;d not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. ▤
c Some manuscripts omit exercising oversight
d Some manuscripts omit as God would have you
Note that this speaks of a particular group of believers in heaven who have come out of “the great tribulation” (v. 14) of the end times.
The implication is that Jesus, or perhaps God their Father, is like a shepherd to his people.
- Jesus also described himself as “the door for the sheep”:
John 10:7, 9 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. ▤ … 9I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. ▤
Jesus claims to be the door/gate leading into salvation (v. 9), through which one can find pasture – the provision of one’s needs.
e Hebrew storm
Isa 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. ▤
God takes up the cause of his people (cf. GNT).
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 his people 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.
Job 24:5-9 Behold, like wild donkeys in the desert the poorf go out to their toil, seeking game; the wasteland yields food for their children. 6They gather theirg fodder in the field, and they glean the vineyard of the wicked man. 7They lie all night naked, without clothing, and have no covering in the cold. 8They are wet with the rain of the mountains and cling to the rock for lack of shelter. 9(There are those who snatch the fatherless child from the breast, and they take a pledge against the poor.) ▤
f Hebrew they
g Hebrew his
Prov 19:4, 7 Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend. ▤ … 7All a poor man’s brothers hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him! He pursues them with words, but does not have them.h ▤
h The meaning of the Hebrew sentence is uncertain
Eccl 9:15-16 But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard. ▤
This appears to speak of a poor man saving a city through his wisdom, but then subsequently being forgotten and ignored, basically because he was poor and not esteemed in the eyes of worldly people.
Luke 16:20-21 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. ▤
2Ki 4:1 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” ▤
Eccl 4:1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. ▤
Eccl 5:8 If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. ▤
This appears to be speaking of oppression of the poor often being aggravated by corrupt officials higher up the chain of command from the one directly in charge of a particular district suffering oppression.
Amos 2:6-7 Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals— 7those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted; a man and his father go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; … ▤
Amos 8:4-6 Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, 5saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekeli great and deal deceitfully with false balances, 6that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” ▤
i An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
- There will always be poor people:
Ps 10:17-18 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear 18to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. ▤
Injustice against the poor is quelled as a result of God saving them from wicked oppressors (cf. v. 15 ⇑).
- The Messiah will bring justice for the needy:
Isa 11:4 … but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. ▤
The first clause may well speak of the Messiah righteously judging cases involving the poor and those who would oppress them.
Protection appears to be primarily in view (cf. NIV), although provision of food may be instead.
j Or for
Isa 25:4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, … ▤
Sojourners, or foreigners, were generally considered to be vulnerable and among the needy.
k Or your congregation
This possibly refers to the renewed Israel of the messianic age, as may well be the case in other verses in this subsection and elsewhere in this section.
Ps 146:5-7a Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, 6who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; 7who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. ▤
This is speaking of the conditions for the poor amongst God’s people following the fulfillment of his prophecy against the Philistines (cf. vv. 28-32).
Here “the poor and needy” refers to the Jews returning from exile in Babylon.
1Sam 2:8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. ▤
In addition to caring for them, God may even exalt the poor.
Ps 68:5-6 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. 6God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. ▤
Ps 146:7b-9 The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. 9The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. ▤
Here those who are “bowed down” (v. 8) are those who are buckling underneath adversity (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).
Although this does not state any specific way in which God looks after the needy, it does reinforce the fact that God acts toward the needy with mercy.
- The afflicted and needy will not be forgotten by God:
Ps 9:12, 18 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. ▤ … 18For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. ▤