Ask me to describe God and I might start with His attributes. God is love. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present. He is holy, He is good, and He is unchanging. He is sovereign, He is just. He is merciful, and He abounds in grace. And the list goes on.
Ask me what He’s like and I might answer in the way He relates to me. He’s my Deliverer. My Rock and my Fortress. He’s my heavenly Father. And that list could go on too.
But as I read in Psalm 121 this morning, I was reminded of another word picture for God. One that doesn’t come to mind immediately. One that I’m not sure I’d come up with, at all. But one that is evident, even if not always recognized. He is my shade.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
….From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
….who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
….He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
….will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is Your keeper;
….the LORD is Your shade on Your right hand.
(Psalm 121:1-5 ESV)
Jehovah, Your shade.
Be honest, it’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of God. Probably not the tenth. But doesn’t He protect us from the heat of trials and troubles? When the intensity of the situation is ramped way up, how do we get through? By the LORD who is our keeper, the One who descends to be our shade.
For You have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.
(Isaiah 25:4a ESV)
As difficult as the trial might seem, yet it could be so much worse if not for His shade. While the going get’s tough, we still keep going because our God quietly, yet faithfully, positions Himself between us and the worst of the storm.
So often we sweat and fret in the heat, unaware of the respite we’re experiencing because He has already taken up position, through His Spirit, at our right hand. Often, before we even come to an awareness of needing to draw near to Him, through the Comforter He has already drawn alongside us. Before we gain enough equilibrium to cast all our cares upon Him, He has already started providing a covering for us.
The LORD is Your shade on Your right hand.
And while we might picture a great tree as providing such needed shade, the shade He provides is found at the foot of the cross, and the footstool of His throne.
As we come to the cross, we’re reminded afresh of the Him who is fully able to sympathize with our weakness, has Himself suffered, and is able to help those in times of trial and testing. Does Jesus care? Oh yes, He cares! And He is ready to make intercession.
And such intercession is made in the very presence of God the Almighty. In the holy of holies, before His throne of grace. To which we are invited to draw near in confidence, in full assurance by faith, “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). To abide in the shadow of His throne, His holy presence sufficient for our every need.
So often, when things heat up, I’m prone to forget that it would be unbearably hot if not for Him. That the crucible’s intesity would consume me if not for Jehovah, my shade.
What amazing grace. To Him be everlasting glory.