“Oh, fear the LORD, you His holy ones, for there is no want to them that fear Him.” Psalm 34:9 (10 in Hebrew texts)
I love Psalm 34. It’s one of my favorite Psalms. I mean, read it and how can you keep from jumping up and down and overflowing with thanks and excitement and love for the Lord? But I had no idea that what I was thinking about today would take me back to that Psalm.
So where did I start before I got there? Well, I was actually sharing with a couple other women and listening to them share what You, Lord, had been sharing with them from Your Word. And something brought us to thinking about Jesus in the boat with the disciples on the Sea of Galilee that day that the storm arose. I’ll share some of the account as given by Matthew in chapter 8. “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep.”
Wow, can you imagine that! I don’t think that was some cruise ship. I remember being on a cruise ship with my parents once, and there was a big storm, and the ship was lurching and crashing down on these giant waves. And here we were, on comfortable beds, dry inside, and still had trouble sleeping. But not Jesus. And I don’t think it was just that He was that tired, although His physical body probably was worn out. I’m thinking that a man who doesn’t have to be afraid of anything can sleep through anything. So where does that leave the disciples?
Well, from here I’m going to share some of Mark’s account from chapter 4. He’s just slightly more descriptive than Matthew when describing Jesus. “And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, ‘Master, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Were they really perishing? Did You not care, Jesus? Or were they missing something?
I was thinking about this scenario. And I was wondering who started worrying first. Who was the first to start “freaking out”? Was it Matthew, the tax collector? After all, he is one of the ones who shared this account. And certainly he wasn’t used to being in a fishing boat in a storm. I wonder if he even knew how to swim? But as I read the account again, it seems like all the disciples, even the seasoned fishermen are “freaking out” about the magnitude and severity of this storm. And it seems as though they may all be working together to bail out the boat but all their emergency efforts, even their combined efforts are having no effect. So what do you do when all your best efforts fail. Oh, then you remember Jesus. Oh, yeah, I forgot, then You go to Jesus for help. I forgot that most of the time we can take care of things on our own and just leave Jesus sleeping there. But OCCASSIONALLY we do need Your help for the big things, like storms that are about to drown us.
So, after being so “rudely” awakened, Jesus got up “and He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” You know, I don’t think that’s what the disciples were expecting. I don’t think they were even thinking that God was resting in their boat. I think that when they cried out for Jesus, they wanted Him to get up and help them bail out the boat, you know, do His share. But they got so much more than any of them actually expected. And they even got a rebuke along with the miracle. “He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'” Yeah, they just got exceedingly more than they bargained for.
Which brings me back to Psalm 34. Read it in it’s entirety. Meditate on it. Then you’ll begin to understand the depth of this verse. “Fear YHWH, His holy ones, for they who fear Him lack nothing.” So what does that really mean to lack nothing? Because everything here is banking on whether I fear You, Lord, or not.
“Ayin”, that Hebrew particle that implies nothing has this really neat pictograph. Aleph-Yod-Nun are the Hebrew consonants that make up this word. The picture representation behind those letters are “Strength (Leader)-To Work or Make- Life (Activity).” And that seems awfully strange because it’s a word that denotes “nothing” so how can it also denote strength, work, and life? Skip Moen shares that “ayin” has a homophone that means “where.” This adverbial “ayin” always means “from where.” It’s all about location. He asks, “So how is ‘where is it from’ connected to ‘nothing’?”
Think about the scenario. Where is our help from? Where is our provision from? Where is our safety from? Where is my security from? How about my sustenance? Or my purpose? I won’t find it in my companions or in myself or in all my good actions. There is nothing on this earth that didn’t first come from nothing and God has always been the One and only One who has ever brought things forth from nothing. As Skip Moen says, “so our lives depend on nothing but the speaking God- and when we ‘fear’ Him, we experience ‘nothing needed because of lack.'”
See, I have the same choice to make, just like the disciples that day. I can turn to Jesus and fear Him. I can come to Him immediately and expect Him to be the filler of all my needs because He alone is the One who makes everything out of nothing. Or I can fear my needs. But that’s a really sad thing to turn my attention to because all that nothingness can’t fill itself and it can’t fill me. What if the disciples had kept their eyes on Jesus instead of the storm? Would the storm have become an issue? What if, instead of trying to handle something they couldn’t handle by themselves, they had even sought Jesus from the start? Maybe He would have just said, “Guys, just follow my example. Lay down and rest. Follow me. I’ve got it all under control.” Would they have listened then? How about me? Am I going to wait until I’m overwhelmed by something other than You before I come to You? Or am I going to keep my eyes on You and follow You from the very start?
I don’t want to turn toward the storms in my life, no matter how many there are or how big they are. Because they aren’t what truly is. I want to be turned toward You because You ARE everything that I need and You alone can bring order to the craziness in life around me. Chaos doesn’t bring me life, but You do. Confusion can’t fill me, but You do. Lord, may I fear You alone and remain rivetted on You. I have to, Lord. But it’s absolutely no chore. Staying rivetted on You is life, and love, and joy, and safety, something, no, EVERYTHING worth boasting about.
“I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together! I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:1-5