Rachel introduced me to SOAPs, a self-written devotional thingie that she could probably explain much better than me. It should be self-explanatory, but if it’s not and you’re interested, let me know and I’ll get you more information.
(And, yes, I used the King James Version. This is one of my favorite Scriptures, and I love it in KJV – it’s just so beautiful.)
SCRIPTURE: Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. But I am the Lord thy God that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of hosts is his name.
OBSERVATION: This chapter was written to give encouragement to the faithful of Israel to trust in God for deliverance both from their Babylonian exile and from the scattering of their numbers (Thanks, Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown!!) “Captive exile” primarily deals with Babylon at the time near to the close of their captivity. Also, they may have suffered under Babylon but would soon be gloriously delivered.
APPLICATION: I memorized these Scriptures at a time in my life when I was very depressed, but they still mean a lot to me. These words are so powerful, and that was one reason why I hate to read them out of KJV – I know them this way, and every time I read them, a thrill runs down my spine.
The redeemed of the Lord shall return with everlasting joy. Isn’t that what everyone is looking for in this life? Our own Declaration of Independence states the freedom for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Though we as Christians know that happiness is not everything, we should obtain this joy that comes from knowing that our Maker is the Ruler of heaven and everything below. Sometimes it’s hard to feel joy when you or someone you love is facing difficult times. I know so many people whose faith is based on how they are feeling at the time or how satisfied they are with their life. Peace and joy do not come from mood swings, events, or catastrophes in our lives: they only come from God.
Another part of this Scripture is how God tells Israel – and us – how He is our comfort, our refuge, our safety. This passage makes me think of a benevolent and gracious Father who is wrapping me up in a warm, soft blanket on a cold winter night. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be, though? God cares for us through all seasons, through disasters and deliverance. Why should we be afraid of man? What can man do to us? Now, I ask that question, but I can think of some terrible things that man can do to us: torture and death immediately come to mind. Those things (okay, torture more than death) do scare me, but I do know that I am one of God’s children, and He’s not going to forget me. Whew!
That last verse is particularly inspiring when faced with difficult times: “I am the Lord thy God that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of hosts is his name.” Divided the sea…whose waves ROARED…The Lord of hosts is HIS name. See what I mean about these verses being so powerful?
PRAYER: God, I pray that when I am faced with difficult times that I will remember that I and my family are in Your sturdy hands. You are my Savior and Hero, the Rock of Ages, the Comforter and Healer. This world can do nothing to me that you will not know far before I will. Your words are powerful and revealing, and those who rest in Your care can rest with ease. Please help those whose faith falters when the storms come. Let them realize that everlasting joy is more than a fleeting moment in time. Let me be a mirror for you in all that I do, and please do not let the people I witness to concentrate on my shortcomings instead of my desire to serve You more.