Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“For in the day of trouble, He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent will He hide me; He will set me high upon a rock…Hide not your face from me…You who have been my help! Cast me not off, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation!...What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait and hope for and expect the Lord: be brave and of good courage and let your heart be enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.”
Psalm 27: 5, 9, 13, 14
“Thou knowest not what is good for thee,
But God doth know –
Let Him thy strong reliance be,
And rest thee so.”
C. F. Gellert
Today’s Study Text:
“And (Elisha) answered, ‘Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.’”
II Kings 6:16
The God of Dothan – Part 6
“Impressed By The Reality of God’s Presence”
“As far as the Lord is concerned, the time to stand is in the darkest moment. It is when everything seems hopeless, when there appears no way out, when God alone can deliver.”
Has there been an experience which has happened in my life and it was so very dark that I felt there was no way out of the mess?
How many times have I witnessed God making a path for me to walk through in a situation, that from a human standpoint, appeared completely hopeless?
How often do I thank my heavenly Father for His gracious care and protection?
“Oh, it is sad for a poor Christian to stand at the door of the promise in the dark night of affliction afraid to draw the latch!”
“Keep and guard me as the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”
With a face covered by shock and his body filled with fear, the young man who assisted Elisha cried out, ‘What will we do, my master?”
Without hesitation, the man of God replied, “Fear not!” And then, in what I find to be some of the most hopeful words in Scripture, Elisha reassuringly responded, “For they that be with us are more than they that be with them,” (II Kings 6: 16, K.J.V.). It is important in this passage for us to read the phrase as a whole, “Fear not: for they that be.” It is as if Elisha spoke a declaration, clear and defined. “Fear not!” This is almost a command, given as an order. However, as any competent “General” would do, there’s a powerful reason behind this statement. The fact is, “Why should Elisha fear when he knew full well what they (the enemy) was capable of with their resources and what God was capable of with His.” This wasn’t arrogance rearing its snotty head on Elisha’s part. Instead, this was Godly knowledge exhibited by Elisha, which was obtained from years of internship with Elijah and years of personal ministry with God as his guide. As Dale Ralph Davis observes, “Elisha’s response states the big fact. It is one thing to hear ‘don’t be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them;’ it is another to be strongly, consciously, and vividly impressed by that reality.”
This is such a crucial part of the story and it is important for us to grasp the fact that Elisha’s fearlessness was not because of something he physically saw, it was because of the knowledge he had gained about his heavenly Father down through the years that made it possible for him to know that deliverance was drawing nigh. When Elisha stated that those who “be” with us are more, the word “be,” as defined in the dictionary means “to excessively and thoroughly surround, to affect and provide.” In this case, the king of Syria thought he had locked-down every nook and cranny of Dothan – he’d thoroughly affected the situation to make certain the city was surrounded so well that no one could get in or out.
What this earthly king had not taken into account was that an army larger than his had provided a ring of care that pinned Syria’s chariots, horses and host down so that in the real world of Elisha, the people who were blocked from moving anywhere were the regiments of Syria.
Let’s look at the situation through Elisha’s eyes of faith. From where he stood, things looked fantastic for the closer the Syrian army got to him, the tighter God’s protective wall of deliverance moved toward him, too. This got me to asking myself the question: “How many times, when I have faced a cul-de-sac of affliction and felt boxed-in by some overwhelming challenge, were my eyes so focused on the problem that I missed the reality of God’s forces, “encamped” around the problem, ready to take on the enemy I felt would take me down?” I keep several pieces of paper taped to a table next to where I write the devotionals. And on one of these slips are the words from a sermon by Pastor Charles Stanley: “God has made provision for our needs before the needs ever arise.” How often do I forget the “before” part? While I’m flailing around, thinking the end is near, the army of Syria is already walking down God’s pathway where their demise is inevitable. And as for their plan to destroy you or me, one of God’s children, well it was doomed before the enemy even got within a stone’s throw of Dothan. WOW – it certainly gets our attention when we allow God to impress us with the reality of His continual presence and unending protection on our behalf.
I found it very instructive that just as the faith-filled Elisha calmed the fears of his young helper with the fact that God’s power to save was greater than anything man could throw against him, that the Apostle Paul, in his letters to his son in Christ, Timothy, also reminds us, in some of the last words penned in II Timothy 4 that the deliverance by our Father isn’t just a fanciful dream or puffed up thought. Here’s the reality of God’s protection which Paul impresses upon young Timothy: “At my first trial no one acted in my defense or as my advocate or took my part or even stood with me.” But then in some of the most powerful words ever recorded, Paul encourages Timothy with the “reality” of the situation. While Paul may have looked like he was in court standing all alone, he wasn’t, for as he let Timothy know, “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the Gospel message might be fully proclaimed…so I was delivered out of the jaws of the lion.”
That’s not where Paul stopped either. He then went on to confirm what he knew about his heavenly Father, “Indeed the Lord will certainly deliver and draw me to Himself from every assault of evil. He will preserve and bring me safe into His heavenly kingdom” (II Timothy 4: 16-18, Amplified Bible).
When you and I feel the Syrian forces clamping down on our lives, it would do us well to recall the Biblical record left by God’s children, who down through the ages have not only been individually impressed by the reality of God’s wall of protective care encircling their lives, but who through their testimony, give us the confidence today to face, without fear, the future God has planned for each of our lives.
I love the way poet/author Margaret Harvey paraphrases the reality of God’s delivering power as recorded in Psalm 91:
“Those who live in God’s own shelter, in His shadow find their rest, say to Him, ‘You are my refuge, God, in whom I put my trust’ He will keep you safe from danger, rescued from the fowler’s snare. He will spread His great wings over you, you’ll find safety in His care.”
This isn’t a reality I only want to talk about – it is the reality I want to believe and live within each day. A reality that keeps my hand in God’s hand no matter what I face.
“This poor woman cried, and the Lord heard her, and saved her out of all her troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, who revere and worship Him with awe and each of them He delivers.”
Psalm 34: 6,7
“Why sink my weak desponding mind?
Why heaves my heart the anxious sigh?
Can sovereign goodness be unkind?
Am I not safe, if God is nigh?
He holds all nature in His hand:
That gracious hand on which I live,
Does life, and time, and death command,
And has immortal joys to give.
‘Tis He supports this fainting frame,
On Him alone my hopes recline,
The wondrous glories of His name,
How wide thy spread! How bright they shine!
Infinite wisdom! Boundless power!
Unchanging faithfulness and love!
Here let me trust, while I adore,
Nor from my refuge ever remove.
My God, if Thou art mine indeed,
Then I have all my heart can crave;
A present help in times of need,
Still kind to hear, and strong to save.
Forgive my doubts, O gracious Lord,
And ease the sorrows of my breast;
Speak to my heart the healing word,
That Thou art mine – and I am blest.”
“God is our Refuge and Strength mighty and impenetrable, a very present and well-proven help in trouble.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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