Saturday, 18th April 2020
Proverbs 18: 10
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
How comforting this verse is for all of us as we face Covid 19 with so many questions with no apparent answers and multiple uncertainties – the safety of family members abroad and some working as front-liners, job securities after the lock-down, health issues, finance, relationships, studies and so many more – these questions and uncertainties can go on and on and different for different families – we ask and worry and anxious because we are only human.
But this verse tells us that our Lord is fully able to protect us for He is our “strong tower” where we can “run” to and feel safe. The first line establishes this truth, and the second focuses on the trust of the righteous. This is the only place in Proverbs where “the name of the Lord” is found; it signifies the attributes of God, here the power to protect (Exodus 34:5-7). The metaphor of “strong tower” (migdaloz) sets up the imagery of the second clause: “running” metaphorically describes a wholehearted trust in God’s protection (see Isa 40:31) and “safely on high” (nisgab; NIV, “safe”), a military term, stresses the effect. Other Scriptures also tells us how our God and Heavenly Father actually protects His people in a different circumstance.
Let’s all be reminded it’s a “wholehearted trust” in our Lord’s protection. Same with the greatest commandment “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt 22:37). The dictionary says whole-hearted means “without doubts or reservations”. Completely trust Him with everything we have, with no reservation, no questions.
Again, because we are human, it’s easier said than done. Even for a Pastor like me. Our eldest daughter Grace is studying in Taiwan and almost every day we call her up to find out how she is doing. Our daughter-in-law and grandson are in Shangdong and every day my son Simon would video call to see how they are doing. Our younger son Alex had the high fever the other day and even after calling so many of you to pray that it would not be Covid 19, we still spent a sleepless night praying for him. Thanks for all your prayers who our God answers and the next day he was tested negative for Covid 19. Yes, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, we are all still learning to trust our God “wholeheartedly”, completely in every area of our life. It’s a process none of us can say we have “arrived”.
If the Apostle Paul can say “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3: 12-14). If Paul who wrote almost half the New Testament and so mightily used by God for the furtherance of His Kingdom especially among the Gentiles and still considers himself the chief among sinners can say he has not “arrived” or in his own words “not already been made perfect”, how far are you and I? Yes, dear brothers and sisters, none of us will ever “arrived” this side of eternity.
Someone had put it nicely in layman’s term: Sanctification is a process whereby we sin less and less and slowly but surely becoming more and more like Christ. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, sanctification is a process, a step by step process, a day by day process. And thus in our walk with Christ, we may falter, we may fall, we may back-slide, we may sin, we may rebel and we may even walk away from God. But like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, He is always looking out of His window hoping to see us coming back to Him. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20). That’s what our Heavenly Father would do for all His wayward children, you and I.
God is always a God of second chance. If the Apostle Peter can deny Him not once, not twice but three times and yet be forgiven and restored, I know and believe our God would do the same for us. On Peter’s third deny, when the rooster crowed. “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22: 61-62) Those tears of Peter were tears of repentance.
For those of you who have for whatever reason not been going to church, or reading His Word, or praying or having any fellowship with brothers and sisters in the Lord, dear brothers and sisters, your Heavenly Father is calling you home right now. For those of you who don’t feel like going to church, that is when you need to go to church when you don’t feel like reading His Word or praying, that is the time you need to read His Word and pray. In times like this, our verse today reminds us that the name of our Lord is the “strong tower” where we, His children can run to for safety. Come back to our Lord dear brothers and sisters.
There is no perfect Church in this world. The reason is the Church is you and me, “called out people” of God, we are all not perfect, even though we are His children. If our Church has failed you in any way, we apologise and pray and hope in God’s grace, you can forgive us and give us another chance to love and care for you. If you are already happily worshipping and serving in another Church, our blessings go with you. Wherever we are, as a believer, we need to find a Church whereby we can grow and serve Him with all that God has bless us with. Then one day when we stand before the Lord, we can say like the Apostle Paul “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearance.” (2 Tim 4: 7-8).
Dear Lord, in times like this, we thank you for reminding us that You will always be our “strong tower” and you will always be there where we can run to for safety and protection. We know deep in our hearts that You will never leave us nor forsake us.
Dear God, we want to commit all our front-liners into your hands. Protect them and keep them safe as they risk their lives to save so many others. We pray for your peace that transcends all understanding to be with them and their wholehearted trust in You for all their family members. We want to pray also for all those who are being affected one way or another by this lock-down – the elderly; the home-bound; the sick; those separated from their family members – some here, some oversea; employers whose business are affected; employees who may face a pay-cut or even lose their job; those facing so many uncertainties after the lock-down; those who have lost their loved ones recently.
We also want to remember those who are not well physically and ask for your healing to be upon them. We also want to pray especially for those who are down with Covid 19 for their speedy recovery and protection for their family members. We want to pray for our government to have the wisdom to make all the best decisions for the safety and welfare of all Malaysians.
Last but not least Lord, we also want to remember those for whatever reason may not have been to church for a while. May the Holy Spirit in them prompt them to go back to You as they need You now more than in any other time of their life. Speak to them Lord and bless and protect them and their family members.
In Jesus name we pray all this, AMEN.
但是这节经文告诉我们，我们的主完全有能力保护我们，因为他是我们的“坚固台”，我们“奔入便得安稳”。经文的上文证实了这个真理，而下文关注义人的信心。这是箴言中唯一能找到”耶和华的名”的地方;它意味着上帝的属性，能保护的力量（参出埃及记34：5-7）。“坚固台”（migdaloz）这个比喻设立了下文的另一个意象：“奔入” 隐喻全心全意地信任上帝的保护（参赛40:31）。“安稳”（nisgab） ”是军事术语，以此强调效果。根据其他经文，我们也晓得神和天父实际上是如何在不同情况下保护他的子民。
使徒保罗说：“这并不是说我已经得着了，已经完全了，而是竭力追求，好使我可以得着基督耶稣所以得着我的（“所以得着我的”或译：“要我得着的”）。弟兄们，我不以为自己已经得着了，我只有一件事，就是忘记背后，努力前面的事，向着目标竭力追求，为要得着 神在基督耶稣里召我往上去得的奖赏。 （腓3：12-14）。如果保罗写了近一半的新约圣经，并且上帝如此重用他，特别是在外邦人中扩展神国，他却觉得自己是罪人中的罪魁，认为他还没有“抵达终点”或“已经完全了”,那你和我呢？是的，亲爱的弟兄姐妹，我们谁也不会“抵达”永恒的这一面。