READ: Deuteronomy 31-32, Psalm 63, Luke 19, 2 Corinthians 3
ENCIRCLED AND OVERSHADOWED
Encircled. Moses entrusts his legacy to a song. Recounting the journey from death and bondage to life and freedom, Moses realizes that what we sing we remember. Moses’ song served as a reminder to God’s people that though we wander though much of life insecure (without guarantees of health, happiness, or even liberty), we do not wander alone or even unprotected. God in fact sees and finds us in desert lands, in howling wildernesses (Deut. 32:10). The great lesson of Zacchaeus is not that he sought, ran, and climbed (Luke 19:3-4); it is that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save him” (Luke 19:10)! God seeks us out that He might have mercy us. After our fatness and spiritual obesity has made us wander (Deut. 32:15), Jesus seeks us out, finds us in our howling wilderness and dryness of spirit, “encircles us, instructs us, and keeps us as the apple of His eye” (v. 10). Our appropriate response is to sing and “ascribe greatness to our God, the rock…” (v. 3).
Overshadowed. David had a similar experience of both deliverance under duress and a singing response. David is wandering in the deserts of Judea, fleeing from those who seek his life. Changing where he sleeps, uncomfortable, unsettled, navigating his own howling wilderness, he, too, is seeking, rising early, longing for God in a dry and thirsty land (Ps. 63:1). David, too, discovers in his seeking that the great Hound of Heaven has been seeking him, and God is the better seeker. “You have been my help,” David exclaims. “In the shadow of your wings, I will rejoice” (v. 7).
It is in this context of being hunted, of having no rest, of fleeing for his life, of weary wandering through howling deserts that David joins Moses in singing and pens the chorus: “Thy loving-kindness is better than life…my lips shall praise you…My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips” (v. 3). David learns to sing in the desert and his song is derived from the experience of being overshadowed by God in the midst of trial. David essentially realizes that the joy of being in the presence of Jesus brings the deepest satisfaction. Nothing compares to being encircled and overshadowed by God.
We all have deserts to wander through. We all have circumstances beyond our control and comfort. God by nature seeks us out in our distress and overshadows us and encircles us with His presence. It is our part to open our mouths and declare to Him and the watching world, that His presence is our reward, our sustenance, and our joy. Often, our faith declaration of this reality in song precedes the feeling/experience of it. We can delight the heart of God by anticipating His encircling and overshadowing by lifting our voices in faith songs. Let joyful lips encourage mournful hearts. Let our praise usher open our spiritual eyes to understand we have been sought out and protected.