In this section of Isaiah, God is speaking to the Israelites as they are in captivity. They are not free people at this point, and they have been exiled to other countries instead of the Promised Land God had for them. Here, as elsewhere in the context, God is reminding the people that he is with them and he will protect them.
There may have been a sentiment among the Israelites about whether or not God had the power to save his people anymore. They may have forgotten the power and majesty of the God of their ancestors – the God who marched his people through the Red Sea.
There may also have been a sentiment that God could help his people, but he simply doesn’t want to. Here God reminds them that they need not fear because he in fact does have the power AND the will to save them. He WILL strengthen, he WILL help, and he WILL uphold. When we face tough times, it’s easy to forget both who God is and what he desires to do. God is all powerful and he does want what is best for his people – all who choose to follow him.
Don’t forget who you have in your corner while you’re fighting fear and uncertainty, and don’t ever doubt that he will give you the strength you need to make it through!
The people of Israel are being addressed by Moses in this verse. They have wandered the wilderness for 40 years due to their disobedience and unwillingness to trust God, and now the new generation is standing on the brink of a new and potentially prosperous time for their people.
Moses has told the people about the Promised Land that God will give them, but there are major roadblocks that they will have to overcome if they are to inherit the land as promised. The main problem is that their enemies already possess the land. As Moses lists off some of their enemies in the previous verses, he then makes the statement in our verse that the Lord will not leave you or forsake you because he goes with you.
He continues a few verses later to say basically the same thing, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8). Moses wants to drive this point home. He knows the people will face danger and fear ahead and he wants to encourage them with truth of God’s presence.
The people of God were about to take a huge step in their development as a nation and Moses wanted them to be on sure footing. That foundation was based on trusting the Lord in all things, remembering that God would be with them no matter what.
We aren’t getting ready to conquer enemy nations, but we are facing an enemy of our own. For some, it’s simply getting up each morning and fighting depression. For others, it’s battling their own minds in the “what-if” scenarios that play out in their heads. Whatever your personal battle is, trust in the fact that Lord will not leave you in this, your time of need. Prepare for battle knowing that God’s got your back!
In this Psalm, David is proclaiming to all the position that God has in his life – the “stronghold” – or in other places translated “refuge.” David says that when the world around him is crumbling, he can count on the refuge of his God.
In God, David sees his light and salvation. The darkness seems to overtake the world at times, but the darkness is no match for the light of God. God’s light shines even into the deepest pit of despair and illuminates the unknown so that we won’t be afraid. And the salvation that is given to us through God is one that cannot be fathomed. Jesus died so that we might live! What a reason for us to be joyful!
When we are overwhelmed with the “what-ifs” in this time, we should recognize that our God is our salvation and our light. In him we should not be afraid! If the God who created the world has also provided us with salvation and refuge, then why would we be afraid of the things that this life throws at us? The simple answer is we shouldn’t be! God’s light has defeated the darkness and in the end the light will shine throughout the world. We can take comfort in the fact that in the midst of this time, when the darkness seems to be winning, we know that in the end light wins; God wins!
In this Psalm the writer is remembering a time when the Lord had helped him in the past. The verses right before our verse say:
Unless the LORD had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. – Psalm 94:17-19 (NLT)
The Lord has a history with this person – He has protected him (or her) in the past. The writer recognizes that without God’s help, death would surely have been his outcome.
“Doubts” in our verse mean the thoughts that cause a person to be troubled or disquieted. And the “me” in our verse refers to the soul or inner being of a person. When our inner being is being troubled, we can rest in the fact that God will give us relief in affliction (“comfort”). Why is the Psalmist certain of this? Because God has done it for him in the past.
When we face a time of uncertainty or anxiety, it is helpful to hit the pause button and think back to a time in our lives when God did come through for us. That’s one reason why it can be helpful to keep a journal – to keep a written record of when God came through for you. In this time, remember that God has gotten you through everything else that life has thrown at you – he will get you through this as well.
I have been fortunate to have many people in my life who have loved me unconditionally. One of those people was my grandma, who we called “Batsa”. Batsa was the best kind of grandma I could have ever asked for. She loved my brother and I immensely and would demonstrate that love through many hugs, kisses, and of course, her famous cookies. Even when I moved away to college, she would still bake cookies and mail them to me! She found that packing them in with popcorn kept them from breaking, and even with that added, somewhat odd taste, her cookies were out of this world. Soon my roommates found out what was in the box and I had to start hiding them!
Near the end of Batsa’s life, however, she developed Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a slowly progressing disease that takes a little bit of a person’s mind at a time until they are literally just a shell of their former selves. To see Batsa go through this terrible disease was one of the worst, most painful things that has ever happened to me and my family. To see her and have her not know me was gut-wrenching and agonizing.
The only thing that got us through that difficult time was knowing that Batsa had a strong faith in Jesus. She knew Scripture well. She had a personal relationship with Jesus. I know that even though Batsa’s mind had gone, Jesus had not. And in those last days before Batsa went to see Jesus, I know that he never left her.
In the midst of her valley – the very shadow of death – though she could not communicate with us, I know she clung to the hope of Jesus – and in her death so did I.
You may be going through your own valley right now. I urge you to cling to the hope of Jesus because with Jesus you can face anything this life throws at you.