The Lord Watches Over Us
MARCH 22, 2022
When I participated in Chattanooga Faith, Work, and Culture Institute’s Main and Market Fellows program we learned a method of contemplative Bible study called Lectio Divina.
It is a method that comes from the monastic tradition in Christianity that causes you to slow down, think deeply about a portion of Scripture, and invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you through that Scripture.
For practice we used Psalm 1. As we read slowly through the Psalm three times, looked for a word or phrase that seemed to speak directly to us. It was in verse 6—”For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction”—that the phrase “the Lord watches” spoke to me.
The next step was to spend a few minutes meditating on that phrase. As I focused on “the Lord watches” the image that came to mind was of the way a parent watches his or her child play near a busy street—focused on the child, never looking away, ready to spring into action to protect the child from danger.
I was comforted to think that that is the way that God watches me. He is not passive or removed as he watches. His is an active watching. He is prepared to act to keep me safe.
In Psalm 34 verse 7 says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.” Maybe it is because of remembering that exercise and thinking about God’s active watching of his children, but when I read that verse, I remembered a story I want to share with you. I heard this story second hand but was assured that it is true.
Several years ago, a medical missionary on home assignment from Africa where he served in a remote clinic spoke at a men’s breakfast at one his supporting churches. He shared stories from his ministry, which included this one.
One day a man came into the clinic with a gunshot wound to his leg. As the doctor treated him the patient looked at him with a strange expression. Finally, he asked the doctor, “Where did the soldiers come from?” The doctor was confused. He didn’t know what the man was talking about. Eventually, he came to understand that some months before this man had planned on robbing him. Once a month someone from the missionary station made a trip into the closest town to buy supplies and run other errands for the missionary team. One of those errands was to go to the bank with whatever checks team members had received in the mail and cash them.
The town was too far to make the trip in one day. On the return trip it was necessary to stop and camp for the night. The last time the doctor had made the monthly trip and was returning with a large amount of money from the cashed checks, this man had followed him. When night fell and the doctor had set up camp, the man approached planning to rob him. But as he approached where the doctor lay in his tent, he was surprised to see eight soldiers standing in a circle around the camp. So, he asked the doctor, “Where did the soldiers come from?”
How odd the question was, the doctor said, because he did not travel with a military escort. He had no idea what the man was talking about.
After he finished his talk at the breakfast, one of the men asked the doctor, “What was the date that the would-be robber saw you protected by eight soldiers?” The doctor told him, and the man was momentarily speechless. On that day, while driving to work, the man had an overwhelming sense that the doctor was in danger. Rather than going to work he went to the church, called all the men from their men’s group, and asked them to come and join him in praying for the doctor. Eight men had responded to the call and had come to the church to pray.
What do I take from all these things?
The Lord watches over his children. The Lord is watching you and he is watching me. He knows whatever hardship, difficulties, and dangers we face. We are never out of his watchful care.
The Lord defends his children. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that, as our king, Jesus restrains and conquers all of his and our enemies.
And prayer matters. It makes a difference when we pray for one another. Let us not grow weary but continue to do good for one another. Let us do that with all the means that are available to us, but especially with prayer.
Let us be like Paul who wrote from prison to his friends in Colossae, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Let us not cease to pray for one another.