Ain. — v. 121-128
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
“For the eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
Throughout all of life, our eyes are filled with images, wonderful and horrific, that incite our emotions and thoughts. What I see affects me deeply, and still my eyes search like a hungry radar that never shuts down, often even in sleep.
I also haggle about with the idea of being seen. When I’m guilty, shamed, tired, depressed, sick, or otherwise feeling humbled, I don’t want to be in public; I don’t want to be seen. When I’m feeling accomplished, ordered, energetic, healthy, and otherwise confident, however, I do want to be with people and be seen. I want to see (always) and I want to be seen (sometimes).
To see is to understand, at least in part. If anyone tries to tell me how to perform an algebraic function, I can’t be talked through it without being shown in a moving or interactive picture of sorts. I need to see that “balancing across the equal sign” process. I need to see a reliable pattern I can comprehend. Some abstractions in life just require visual assurances that one is on the right track.
When going through depression or anxiety or severe danger or grief, I definitely want to see and to know that what is happening is not without meaning. I want to see justice. I want to see some sort of resolution that will make the suffering valuable. I don’t mind suffering if I can know that myself or others will not be destroyed by it and will even gain from it somehow. Yet sometimes the Lord withholds our validations for a time. Sometimes, he allows us to form trust by changing what we mean by “sight”.
The psalmist in AIN (“eye”, v. 121-128) was going through just such a time. I know what it is to wait on the Lord for answers to the grief in my heart. The psalmist had God’s Word to lean on and he had leaned on it heavily. God says that not all that is seen with the physical eye is truth. We must be made to see past mortal sight. Sight must yield to faith.
There comes a time when the enemy has hacked one down so brutally that one fears his or her very intelligence is losing ground. All sight is lost by the abuse. Things don’t add up like they should. Lost for words to explain one just doesn’t try. In another metaphor, one is thrown overboard and lashed by the whipping of a gale on a vast and limitless sea, giving in, giving up, losing grip on what it means to trust in God or His Word. “How long, O LORD?” suddenly has new depth of meaning, but no new answers.
Jeremiah, God’s Prophet
Jeremiah was just such a prophet. In Lamentations 3, he cried out his sorrows (who else could he tell but God?) and then in FAITH, he said, “But this I know…” and he recounted just this: the character of God is love. It was enough to put some fire back into his prayers; he prayed and waited for justice. He still couldn’t see, but he could know.
Maybe this kind of condition is God’s way with His people to help us form real faith. Not shallow faith or belief, but such kind of faith that risks all that is hoped for in this life in order to gain what can never be lost. Such is the faith of Christ at the Cross, the faith of the disciples at their martyrdom, the faith of the mothers of St. Augustine and John Newton. We want to see. But barring clear vision in a world of battle smoke, we rest our sight in His own and we are carried through.
Can you see me?
We also want to be seen. We won’t admit this, but we really do want to know that all our uglies, our doubt, our hateful thoughts, our vilest inner and secret sins are known. Hiding is intense and we want relief. Will we then still be loved? Can I know I’m loved?
God does see. We have His Word that we are loved with an everlasting love, not on our own merit (how could that be?), but on the merit of the shed blood of Jesus Christ who paid for our secret and known nature of sin (Romans 5:1-11). He didn’t just die for our sins (plural), he died for our SIN (who we are as sinful creatures). We are seen in all our shame and guilt, and we are loved nonetheless:
“Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18 ESV).
God wants us to know we are His. He has written His love in the nail-scarred palms of Christ’s hands (Romans 5:8); Isaiah 49:15-16). That’s a good reason to hold on to the Word of God. And that’s a good Word to hold on to!
Lord, open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from your law, for by your law, I am preserved. Thank you that you see me for who I really am and you love me all the same, for by your grace I am forgiven, healed, and restored. Thank you that when I am at my lowest, whether in the filth of a prison or on the street with no home, or in a safe place looking normal but being eaten away inside by guilt or by the hand of my enemy, you do see me. You love me, for by Your Spirit I am sustained and by Christ’s shed blood I am sealed in your love for all eternity. Thank you that I don’t have to see all or know all to be able to trust in you, for You are Faithful and True. I don’t have to hide, for there is now, therefore, no condemnation for those whose hope is in Christ for salvation. Do justice to your enemies, Lord, and to those that persecute me wrongfully. But help me to consider that your delay may be your mercy for another’s salvation–maybe even my persecutors’. Lead me out of my darkness and into your Light. Teach me as I wait on you, LORD, for you are worthy to be praised! Amen.
© 2018 by http://www.readpsalm119.com; last revised January 25, 2019.
“El Roi is the God Who Sees Me“, Ann Spangler, Feb 24, 2017, FaithGateway.com. (Article). Ann takes the story of Hagar and shows how God did see and fulfilled his promises to her. Ann’s resources focus on the Names of God as insights into His character. We can trust Him because He has revealed Himself to us. Thank you, Ann, and thank you, dear Heavenly Father!
“He Knows My Name by Maranatha Singers” – uploaded by Julz Ares, published March 16, 2007. (Music, YouTube.com, 3:25 minutes).
NOTE: The Hebrew alphabet “ain” means “eye”. The reader using these acronymic stanzas would have recognized this.