Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guidance as Big as God

“This is God, our God forever and ever,
He will guide us forever.” (Psalm 48:14)

This phrase caught my attention because, like many Christians I know, I’m pretty interested in God’s guidance. How often have you asked others, or been asked, to pray for “God’s guidance”?

Praying for God’s guidance is a big deal. We want to do the right thing, we want to feel like someone is in charge of the apparent chaos of life, and (perhaps more than anything else) we would really like things to work out well for us.

I think there are a few ideas in Psalm 48 that take God’s guidance to the next level, however.

First of all, God’s guidance is guaranteed: “This is our God, He will guide.” It’s not something we get if we are good, or pray hard enough, but it comes free. It’s the reason we pray with David, “The Lord is my shepherd.” (In fact, the Septuagint translates the second part of this verse, “He will shepherd us forever.”)

Also, God’s guidance is corporate: “This is God, our God.” If you ponder the entire Psalm, it’s a psalm about God being a mighty fortress to His people, plural—to faithful Israel, and by extension to His church. This shouldn’t make us feel as if we’re lost in a crowd, but it should encourage us that we are part of something bigger. God does provide guidance to us as individuals and families, but we’re part of something larger than our own lives.

And beyond all this, God’s guidance is staggering in its magnitude. “He will guide us forever.” This is amazing! We tend to think of God’s guidance—or at least I do—as an isolated event. And usually limited to a particular decision. But actually, God is working on a grand scale—on an eternal scale. You would think based on this that perhaps all things are working together for our good.

Incidentally, the ESV translation I’ve cited is following the Septuagint here, whereas most translate this along the lines of “He will guide us unto death.” It’s reminiscent of Psalm 73:24, “You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.” Or Psalm 23 again, “The Lord is my Shepherd…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God does not drop us off at death’s door and says goodbye, but He guides us in such a way that death is traversed and we enter into glory. And you know, God keeps on guiding us even then!

This is our God and guide. Pretty amazing stuff.


Jeff said...

Ken - way to go bustin' out the LXX! BHS has a pretty extensive text critical note on this verse, it looks like "unto death" has troubled translators for a long time. It would be interesting to get Dr. Collins' opinion on that verse.

Jeff said...

Also, if I remember what Dr. C said many moons ago, the phrase "shadow of death" in Ps 23 gave the ESV translators equal qualms. The ESV has a footnote saying "or valley of deep darkness." Although this might be a translational issue more than a text critical issue.

Aubrey said...

Although I appreciate a reference to the septuagint as much as the next girl, I just wanted to say excellent post - I loved your exegesis of this passage. Succinct, but very encouraging. Thanks.