Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain. ~verses 4-6
For a period of several weeks, I kept seeing this Psalm in various places—in memes on Facebook and devotionals I was reading and also quoted by friends. It made me stop and wonder why. I printed it out and read the verses several times, asking God to help me to understand.
I think that perhaps God was telling me to trust him and that’s so difficult to do. I ran across a verse last night, 1John 5:18-19, that says We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
A couple of things struck me from these verses. First, that God keeps his children safe (and that goes along with the psalm). The Lord, according to the psalm, hems us in “behind and before.” God is protecting us. He not only has our back, he’s the point man too. So, what of those Christians who are killed or hurt or become sick?
It’s a difficult concept to grapple with. “Such knowledge” is beyond our understanding. Even through the worst of times, God is still protecting us. The last part of the verse in 1 John is interesting. “The whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
Evil is all about us, and yet, God keeps us safe. We know that many thousands of Christians have been martyred. This is not about God shielding us from all pain and sorrow. Rather, it’s about the safety of our souls. The part of us that belongs to God is kept safe, the part that matters, the part that continues forever.
The evilness of the world spills over to splash us with pain and sorrow. But the important part of us, the part God hems in, is kept safe. God knows us completely—knows the words we will say before they even leave our mouths. Some believe this speaks of predestination. Again, this is something beyond our complete understanding. However, we know God is beyond time. He knows how the story ends—that does not mean he has it all neatly written. We, somehow, have our own free will to write our own stories, to make choices, to change courses, and it somehow works within God’s great scheme.
And as the story plays out, he lays his hand upon us to guide us and to comfort us. With his hand upon us, we can be courageous, knowing we are forever safe as he hems us in!