As you might've guessed from my writing, I love “tension” verses. This is my term for verses which display in front of us two great Scriptural truths held in tension. For example, Phil. 2:12-13 on one hand tells us to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” which talks about the effort we have to put into displaying our salvation through our actions. On the other hand, the very next verse shows the other half of the tension: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” We work out our salvation, but the Lord works in us to accomplish this.
This Psalm contains another “tension” verse, and it’s one of the most beautiful in all of Scripture. Look at vs. 5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Here we have wonderfully presented both the immanence and transcendence of our God.
Let’s focus on the second half first. God is in his holy dwelling. The word “holy,” remember, means “different” or “separate.” He’s God, and we’re not. He’s up in heaven, directing the affairs of nations and keeping the stars in their proper orbits. He moves world leaders around like pieces on a chess board. He holds the future of the human race in his hands, and everything is going forward according to his ultimate plan, despite how it looks at times. Angels--creatures before whom we would be tempted to bow down--come before him and make sure to shield their faces with their wings as they approach.
With a God like this, how could we possibly think that he actually cares about my personal problems? I’m late with my bills as it is, and the boss is talking about layoffs. My marriage is on the rocks, and it looks like it’s about to take the final crash. Or maybe you’re really desperate, like the “fatherless” or the “widows” of that time. Fathers and husbands were the main protectors and providers of families. They were there to make sure there was food on the table and that the family wasn’t taken advantage of. Without him, there would be little hope.
But remember our discussion of goel from last year? That was the Kinsman-Redeemer from Ruth. If a family member had no source of income, or was being oppressed by someone, then it was his job to step in for the family member. That’s the same word for “defender” in vs. 5. If a “fatherless” child or a helpless widow had no one to turn to, then the Almighty God himself promised to step forward and be their Father, their Defender, their Kinsman-Redeemer. In fact, the very next verse goes even further—“God sets the lonely in families.” One way or another, he'd provide the family they needed.
Maybe someone who’s reading this doesn’t even have a father, humanly speaking. Your father barely even merits the title. If so, I promise you that our Heavenly Father is not like that. Yes, he’s directing the affairs of the nations, but he’s never too busy for you. Talk to him. Cry out to him. He’s listening. This can be your personal testimony: “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”
Father God, you are the Father to the fatherless and the Defender or widows in your holy dwelling. I praise you, and I thank you.
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