“For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Psalm 1:6
There are two people being discussed in this Psalm. On one hand we have the righteous and on the other hand we have the ungodly. So what makes one a righteous person? A righteous person delights in You, Lord, and Your ways and thinks about You and Your ways all the time. A righteous person who is occupied with delighting in You and thinking on You, bears fruit in their life that resembles You. The ungodly, though, have nothing firm to stand on, no foundation, no root from which they can draw life sustaining sustenance that resembles You. But what hit me here isn’t at all about thinking about whether I am among the righteous or the ungodly only, but what it really means that “the LORD knows the way of the righteous.” I mean, to me, it’s one thing to think that I have an inkling and am coming to learn Your ways. But to think that You know the way of those who trust in You is something I want to think more about. Stop and think. God knows my way. But those who don’t delight in God, there is no mention of God knowing their way. There’s just mention that it will perish.
What does it mean that You know the way of the righteous, of those who delight in You. It’s this word yada that I’ve gotten excited about before. It’s all about knowing with the head and the heart and the actions. It’s knowing and experiencing something. And the more I read about it and the more I think about it, it’s as though You know us personally and interact with us personally. It’s not like You just set things in motion and then stand back and watch. That’s not yada. It’s not just about seeing. It’s about seeing and being involved. It’s about seeing and experiencing. It’s about being a part of the action with us.
Imagine that yada, or knowing, for God involves the emotions, the will, and the intellect. That means that You, God, have feelings for us and toward us. You weep when we stray or when we are too blind and stubborn to see and desire Your way. Your will desires our presence with You. You know everything about us and everything that is best for us. I mean, let’s face it, You are all-knowing. Therefore You are all-yada.
That doesn’t mean You don’t love those who are perishing, but because of who You are, those who do not make Your ways their ways, cannot be found righteous and come before You. Why? Because all people are invited into Your yada. We are invited to know You as You know us. We are invited to know You with our emotions, our will, and our intellect. But some choose their own way and not Yours. And sometimes, those who have chosen Your way, pick their own way up and need to be reminded of what we miss when we do so- the presence of God.
Listen to Isaiah’s words, “For I desired loyal love, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6) Here, the prophet Hosea is sharing Your heart with Your people who were prostituting themselves with Your enemies! He pleads for them to return to You and the tearing and being smitten would be healed and they would be bound up. You would revive them and raise them up and they would live in Your sight. They wouldn’t just live. They would see Your face, they would know Your face, because they could live in Your presence! Then they would know You and Your ways, if they chose to follow You and Your ways. Then You would come to them. Why would we refuse that? Who in their right mind would refuse You like that? Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe our minds are the problem and we busy them too much with thinking about other things. Maybe if we started filling our minds with You, and cut off the other thoughts that want to grab our attention, we’d know what really mattered.
The truth is that Your heart breaks over us. You feel distress, disgust, anger, betrayal, hurt, humiliation, heaviness, and hopelessness. You feel. But the question is, what kind of sympathy do we have for You? Do I feel what You feel? When my thoughts are occupied with other things, do I feel the separation? Am I weeping over missing Your love? Am I agonizing because our relationship is broken? Do I even have a heart for You or am I just going through the motions? How stupid will I let myself become? How callous can I be? Do I cry for You like You cry for me?
You know, God, I know a ton about You. But it’s not about knowing info, is it? How much do I feel the way You feel? How sensitive to You am I? How’s my empathy with You? Do I really know You as You know me? Is my life right? Then my focus will be right. Is it?
“YHWH is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7) “He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Why do they take refuge in Him? Because they know, so they do it and they feel it. It’s a package deal. We understand the relationship that You are offering here. You are offering me shelter. Why? Because I need it. Now, if someone offered me shelter when I was in need, how would I feel about that? I would be emotional. But that also means that the One offering me shelter has emotions toward me, emotions like empathy, concern, and pity. This is not someone who is aloof, distant, and removed. This is someone who wants to be intimately involved with us. This is someone who wants us to want intimate involvement with Him. This is someone who feels deeply for us and wishes us to feel as deeply for Him. Yada is all about unity, you know, “That they may be one” kind of unity. God loves me. He REALLY loves me! What will I do with a love like this?
It’s not just an Old Testament idea. We see it out of Jesus’ own mouth. “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:23) The problem is it’s so easy for us humans to get distracted. Actually, I think we’re born distracted and distractible. And we are not all lucky enough to grow up where we’ve been surrounded by people who have experienced the love of God in their own lives. And we think it’s so easy to make up our own way and that God’s just going to give us kudos, a pat on the back for the “cleverness of me.” But if Your word is truth and You are the only way, the only truth, and the only life, then everything else is lawlessness, emptiness, and foolishness.
Sometimes I want to feel Your presence right here, and right now, all the time. But sometimes You step back to prove how I will respond. See, You are forever faithful, but what about me? Will I be faithful when no one seems to be looking? Will I be faithful in the dark? Will I be faithful when I can’t seem to hear You or see You or feel You? Will I be faithful when I feel lonely? Will I be faithful when I am hurt? You were. And You are. But what about me?
Do I know You and love You so much that I would walk through all these experiences and more and continue to cling to the desire for You and Your presence no matter how long it takes? Or will I allow myself to be drawn away by things that instantly gratify, by things that seem to fill my needs, which in the long run, never match up to You and leave me wanting and without refuge?
Loneliness, pain, disappointment, feeling unloved, or feeling under appreciated are not excuses to give my heart to another. If only I realized that my cry is for You and not for lesser things, I’d find You much sooner. I wouldn’t have to spend so much time in the lonely, bitter wilderness, would I? My longing for Your presence will not be satisfied by anything else but finally coming into Your presence. How can I ever be at home in a place that wasn’t created to be my permanent home? How can I ever be satisfied with putting my trust in another, or being comforted by another who was not created to satisfy all my desires?
What a strange place we live in that was created for the glory of the One who created it. Yet, this place refuses to submit to His purposes. And these people think they can trump His desires all the time. Will I allow myself to live and think contrary to You? There’s a way that seems right to a man, a way that is contrary to You, but it leads to death. I don’t want to go that way, but I fall into that way sometimes. I want to be better prepared to see that way coming and refuse to accept it. I want to remember the yada You have for me every moment so that I can reciprocate that yada. I want to feel about You the way You feel about me and act upon those feelings. I want to stop being attracted to lesser things and lesser thoughts. I want to delight in You and everything about You no matter how long or hard the wait to feel Your presence. See, if I’ve already experienced You even once, then I already know, and I have no excuse.
So Lord, I want to live in the blessing that exists in knowing and experiencing You. I don’t want to act in accord with those who don’t know You. I want to choose to delight in You. I want to fill my ears and mind and heart with You. I want to listen to You and speak about You and walk around and appreciate You. I want to learn to wait on You, and wait and wait and wait and wait if I have to. Because if I can learn to do that in the really hard times, then that hope and satisfaction I will have in You when You come to me will be unsurpassable by anything else. I want to think about Your Word and Your ways and You all the time. And I want to experience Your living waters flowing through me and producing beautiful fruit.
I am so grateful that You don’t give up on me. I am so grateful that You forgive me and renew me. I am so grateful that You are not a God who is far away and aloof but that You love me with a real and genuine and present love. I’m so glad that You love me in an emotional way but that it’s not just some gushy love. It’s a love that paid a price, through Jesus. So, Lord, let my love also stand the test. May my love for You be willing to pay any price to hold fast to You and never let You go.
John got it. I want to get it too. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.” “He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.” If I say I know You, then my life ought to show that I know You. Words don’t cut the cake. It’s only when you take the knife in hand and move your hand to slice that it happens. Thank You, Lord, for knowing me so intimately and inviting me to know You in that way, too.