So, what I hear David saying is this: Let those who consider themselves children of Almighty God, repent and stay right so that their sin is not keeping God from protecting and/or delivering them from trouble. God is not a “hiding place” for just anyone but only for those who desire to be faithful to God’s precepts and commands. Otherwise, God is putting on the pressure that was described in the verses before these two. It’s not that we are perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but God is looking at our heart as much as our action. If our heart, truly, wants to be right with God/to keep all of His precepts and commandments but we mess up now and then, God will hear our confession and forgive us. Then, God is, once again, our Hiding Place!
8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
Don’t really know what is right in this world of changing standards? No problem! God promises to instruct us with His loving eye upon us! God wants us to succeed in following His precepts and commandments as written in the Holy Bible which contains His Word. He is not out to get us! God made us and, as the “manufacturer” He is best able to counsel us on what will keep us going with the best possible efficiency and health—body, soul and spirit.
9 “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”
We are reminded that being forced to obey God’s precepts is not the best way. God wants a relationship with us so that we desire to obey out of our love for Him as our Father. I did obey my earthly father when I was a child but I also remember that there was no pleasure for me in that obedience when he had to force me by the promise of repercussions should I choose to disobey. Obeying quickly and the resultant smile on his face was a much better way to do what he wanted. The same goes for our Heavenly Father. He has a reason for his precepts and commandments; He knows that we will do better if we follow them.
10 “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.”
Again, it is not just anyone who can be assured that God’s love surrounds them. It is those who trust in Him. Those who do not are in the category of those whose woes are many. That is not hard to understand because where does one go for help in time of trouble if there is no trust in the Almighty God—the One best equipped to help? Does that mean that God has nothing to do with the people who do not trust in Him? God created us all and does care about us; but, if we have chosen to runaway from His parenting and take a bus to our own way of doing things, He is not there to help us. He can see us but our choice to sin has put us out of His reach. We have chosen the way that ties His hands, the way of sin. Repentance will change all of that, though, so He is not abandoning us, it is we who are abandoning Him if we choose not to repent and follow God’s ways.
11 “Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”
David is concluding this song with a joyful declaration of truth. We need only be upright in heart to rejoice in the Lord—not perfect. Desiring to be right with God and doing all we can to stay there will, indeed, bring great joy to our days!
As I checked out other passages, such as Psalm 119:114, I discovered a few more verses where God being our “hiding place” or “refuge” was always associated with being in right relationship with God. There was the opportunity for repentance and forgiveness. There was no refuge from the storms outside of a right relationship with Father God and that is, truly, something we all need to understand about God. He is not Santa Clause, just out to make us happy and give us good gifts. He is almighty God, Creator of the universe and all that it contains. He is tender but He is powerful. He offers mercy but he is also the enemy of wickedness. Father God has made us in His own image and it is His desire to gather us into His loving arms. It is us, in our independence, who may choose to rebel and follow the ways of the world instead of the Father.
The great news is this: It is never too late to change! God will not tell you it is too late or He has forgiven you enough times already. He is waiting to do it one more time and welcome you into His special place!
****Have a good weekend!