We got a bit relationally messed up when we moved down to the States 11+ years ago. We had been warned by an expert in U.S./Canadian cultural differences that we might encounter it.
In general, she said, Americans were more open about the stuff they’d talk about to acquaintances than were Canadians. To share such “stuff’ in Canada was a pretty good indicator that you were “going deep” with someone and were developing a real friendship. Not so much, down here. Here, we were told, you could be thinking you were becoming “best buds” because of what you and someone else were sharing, only to find that the next day they had forgotten your name. (Not a good / bad or right /wrong thing . . . just a cultural difference thing). Thus, on more than one occasion, the girls, or even Sue and I, would think we were connecting with someone only to find out, we weren’t. Ouch! Took awhile to get used to that.
But the fact of the matter is, depending on the culture, what we share with someone else, and what they share with us, is a pretty good indicator of the depth of friendship that is being developed. Reminded of that this morning as I read the Twenty-Fifth Psalm.
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant. (Psalm 25:14 ESV)
And check it out in the NASB, or NKJV . . .
The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. (Psalm 25:14 NKJV)
And here’s the verse in the NIV . . .
The LORD confides in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them. (Psalm 25:14 NIV)
The word at the center of the difference in translations literally refers to “a session.” The idea is that of a company of people in close deliberation. It implies intimacy, consultation, a sharing of secret things. Not a word, I’m guessing, that is used to describe casual acquaintances. But one that refers to those who have gone beneath the surface in revealing themselves. So, you can kind of see why some translations emphasize the sharing of a secret, while the ESV emphasizes the implication, that this is something done among friends. That the sharing of secret things is evidence of friendship.
Ok . . . so after reconciling the translation difference, time to pause . . . and noodle on it . . . and then sit back in fresh awe and wonder.
That the LORD . . . that Jehovah . . . that “the existing One” . . . would enter into intimate, secret-sharing, covenant revealing relationship with anyone speaks of the depths of the love of God and of the unbelievable privilege extended to man. That He would, as it were, extend such friendship to those once in rebellion, to those who really have nothing to bring to the relationship, testifies anew to the abundant grace that flows from Heaven’s Throne.
Think about it. Everything we know about God . . . whatever understanding we have as to His ways . . . to whatever degree we have believed and appropriated His promises . . . it all testifies to the intimate nature of the relationship the Father desires with us. These things are not known because of how bright we are . . . or how well we were raised . . . or even how much we’ve studied the Scriptures. But these things are, ultimately, known by us because of the friendship of the LORD. Because He has chosen to “confide” in us. Because He has determined to share the secrets of the things of the kingdom with us.
We know God to the degree we know God, because He has revealed Himself to us. Because He, through the finished work of His Son on the cross, and by the active agency of His Spirit on the earth, extends to us His friendship.
Can anyone say, “Unbelievable!” How about, “Thank You, LORD!”
That is the “culture” of the kingdom. For those who humble themselves in reverent awe before Him, He draws them into “conversation,” revealing Himself and His friendship to us. And guess what? He doesn’t forget our name the next day!
Let us praise His name forever!
By His grace . . . for His glory.