“Taste them again for the first time.” This Kellog’s Corn Flakes slogan from the 90’s was mentioned from the pulpit on Sunday as a way of introducing the sermon. When it comes to the word of God, God’s people would do well to heed the call.
Six years ago I started reading the English Standard Version of the Bible. So it’s become somewhat familiar. But looking back on past posts this morning I was reminded of the “freshness” that often emerged from reading passages where the ESV translators sometimes used very different words than what I had become used to in other translations. Reading these differences back then resulted often in a pleasant surprise and provided a fresh, frequently awe-inspiring twist to the “old old story” I had become familiar with. Thought I’d “re-run” some thoughts from 2011 on encountering one of these differences that caused me to taste, again for the first time, and see that the LORD is good! (Ps. 34:8)
This year I switched Bible translations for my morning devo’s. I’ve been a New King James (NKJV) guy for quite a few years. This year though, I decided to use the English Standard Version (ESV) as I work through my reading plan. Not a big departure really from what I’m used to, but I do find myself coming across phrases or ideas that I’d never “discovered” before in my reading. Little surprises. Unexpected aha’s. And in the case of this morning’s unanticipated discovery, a bit of a “Thanks be to God!” blessing.
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant.
(Psalm 25:14 ESV)
Friendship with the Lord. Now how’s that for a phrase to noodle on. In the NKJV and NASB it’s rendered “The secret of the LORD.” In the NIV it’s “The LORD confides”.
The idea behind the word is that of being part of an inner circle . . . a council of familiar conversation . . . an assembly of familiar friends. It speaks of those who are confided in . . . those who are privileged to be “brought into the know”.
You can see where both translations are accurate, though each emphasizes something a bit different. The NKJV emphasizes the evidence of the relationship, the “secret.” Whereas the ESV emphasizes the relationship itself. The secret being for the inner council, those who know “friendship” with the LORD.
Friendship with the LORD. Friendship with Jehovah. Friendship with “the existing One”. A friend of God. That is the intimate relationship available for those who fear Him. For those whose sins are remembered no more (25:7) because of redeeming grace. For those who have been pardoned of their great guilt (25:11), having been justified by faith. These are the ones brought into intimate relationship with the Alpha and Omega, the One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8).
To those who fear Him, our God confides as to His promises. He makes known to them His ways. He teaches them His paths. He faithfully leads them in the truth (25:4-5).
“Who has understood the mind of the Lord?” asks Paul. “We have the mind of the Christ,” comes the response (1Cor. 2:16).
Brought near through the blood of Christ, we have entered the inner council, and thus, the inner counsel of Jehovah . . . of I AM . . . of the Creator of all things. His secrets, to the degree He has chosen to reveal them to men, are made available to those who believe and have ears to hear. And we are not left to ourselves to decipher the high and holy ways of a God who is beyond our comprehension. Rather, we have been infused with the very Spirit of God as a permanent, resident instructor concerning the things of the secrets of the kingdom of God.
Knowing the secret things. Yeah, that’s a pretty good indicator of true friendship.
And while the secrets are evidence of the friendship, the relationship goes far beyond just Revealer / receiver. More than Teacher / student. Deeper than Master / disciple. Ours within this inner circle, is that of a close fellowship. Of sitting together at the dining table abiding in intimate communion. Knowing a heart of God to heart of man connection. He fully knows our frame (Ps. 103:14), and is familiar with our frailty and weakness (Heb. 4:15). We increasingly come to know His heart and the full dimensions of His love for us (Eph. 3:18-19). And so, the relationship grows, as do all healthy relationships.
Oh, to be a friend of God.
Not to presume on the relationship, but to ponder the privilege. To respond with a holy determination to remain faithful by His power and provision. To bow down and worship with a thankful heart.
By His grace. For His glory.