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God Is Near

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The familiar word “Near” (or some form of it) appears often in the Scriptures. For example, on a particular occasion the apostle John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) was standing nearby when Jesus was talking to His mother (John 19:26). This is reminiscent of what the author of Proverbs said: “Better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away” Prov. 27:10). Contrary to one’s normal source of help, as Garret remarks, “The brother may be too distant (either geographically or emotionally) to be of help.” 1

In a very full sense the psalmist declares that while the presence of the wicked man is near, more importantly God is near at hand:

Those who devise wicked schemes are near,
But they are far from your law.
Yet you are near, O LORD,
And all your commands are true. (Ps. 119:150-51)2

We have a God who forgives his own who at times commit spiritual transgressions, and often forgives us.

When we were overwhelmed by sins,
You forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
And bring near to live in your courts. (Ps. 65: 3-4)

Even God’s name is near (Ps. 75:1). Therefore, the psalmist, knowing of the past gracious dealings of the Lord, rightly assures and praises the God of his thanksgiving. Indeed, he is a “wonderful God”. Many of us have learned the truth of these words. As the traditional chorus expresses it with thanksgiving, “God is so good.” His care and supply of the believer’s needs is very praise worthy. As Civilla Marten declares:

All you may need He will provide; God will take care of you.
Nothing you ask will be denied; God will take of you.
God will take care of you, thru’ every day, O’er all the way.
He will take care of you; God will take care of you.3

Worthy of special thanks is his provision of salvation, which is fully realizable to those who fear him. Where there is genuine trust in the Lord, God’s gracious glory is very evident.

Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;
Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, O LORD my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever. (Ps. 86:10-12)

Psalm 91 is a wonderful psalm. It speaks of freedom from trouble coming near. In the first half of the psalm, having introduced his subsequent remarks and affirming his trust in the Lord (vv. 1-2), the psalmist proceeds to illustrate this by declaring that regardless of any great trouble, he is confident of God’s presence and security. Moreover, as he beholds the punishment of the wicked (v. 8), he will see that although others may die, he will be rescued from death. For he quotes God as saying,

A thousand may fall at your side,
Ten thousand at your right hand,
But it will not come near you. (Ps. 91:7)

In the second half of the psalm (vv. 9-18), he declares that, “if you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you; no disaster will come near your tent” (vv. 9-10). Indeed, the Lord is in such control of the situation (vv. 11-18), that regardless of any difficulty, he will be victorious. Out of his deep love the Lord will rescue those who believe in him. He will deliver them and reward them with a salvation that will result in a long life. As Van Gemeren observes, the Lord gives assurance that his own will enjoy themselves as his children in this life and in the life to come.4

Paul also tells the Christian believers in Romans 13:11 that God’s salvation “is nearer now than when we first believed.” He concludes with sound advice, which is still true for today’s believers: “Let us behave decently as in the daytime . . . not in dissention and jealousy” (v. 13). Today’s believers should likewise be faithful in all things. This should be their permanent goal and desire throughout their lives.

May each of us, then, be careful so as to live our lives that we sense Christ’s continuous nearness. May it be also that others may see “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). As Kate Wilkinson expresses it:

May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour
So that all may see I triumph only thru His pow’r.
May the love of Jesus fill me as the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing -- this is victory.
May His beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel, Seeing only Him.5

Accordingly, let us live lives in close fellowship with Him. As Fanny Crosby expressed it:

Thou my everlasting portion, more than friend or life to me;
All along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk with Thee.6

© Copyright 2018.

1 Duane Garrett, “Proverbs,” in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993), 218.

2 Unless otherwise noted, all scriptural citations are taken from the NIV.

3 Civilla H. Marten, “God Will Take Care of You”.

4 Willem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 701.

5 Kate B. Wilkinson, “May the Mind of Christ My Savior” (vv. 2, 4, 6).

6 Fanny J. Crosby, “Close to Thee.”

Related Topics: Character of God, Christian Life

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