I approached the front door and as my hand reached for the handle, the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t open that door”! I dropped my hand to my side and looked through the beveled glass to see a young man in a white T-shirt and jeans on the other side. I asked him what he needed and he told me he was looking for a friend and gave a name. I knew all my neighbors and the name he gave me was not someone who lived on our cul-de-sac. I told him he had the wrong street. He left immediately and as I walked away from the door, the Holy Spirit said, “Call security and let them know about this”.
My daughter was away at college and my husband and son were out of town on a church men’s retreat. I would be alone in the house until around midnight. It was 6 pm. Our neighborhood was open to the public but we had a security service that drove through the streets to lend some watchful eyes on our behalf. When I called, security asked several questions about the young man. I hung up the phone and ate my supper. The doorbell rang an hour later. It was the security guard so I opened the door and he asked me more questions. He told me the police were looking for three young men. They had stolen a van and abandoned it in my neighborhood. He said the young man at my door fit the description of one of them and the other two were probably out of view and ready to force their way into my house had I opened the door. I could have been in serious danger or even killed if the Holy Spirit not spoken to me. All evening I could hear helicopters flying overhead and police cars with lights flashing were driving through the area. I spent the rest of the night in perfect peace because I knew my Lord had kept me safe and would continue to be my keeper. My husband and son returned home around 11:30 pm and asked what was taking place in our neighborhood. They said there were police everywhere. I told them what the Lord had done for me. What would they have found when they arrived at home had the Lord not warned me?
David learned that God was his keeper when he was a youth tending his father’s sheep. He slept out in the pasture many nights and defended the sheep from predators such as a lion and a bear. He knew the Lord was not only with him but was his source of strength. The Lord kept David safe when he stood against the Philistine’s greatest warrior Goliath. Goliath towered over David, but he was struck dead by one smooth stone which David hurled from his sling shot. The rock was sent forth by the power of God and imbedded into the forehead of the giant warrior. The entire armies of Israelites and Philistines looked on with unanticipated amazement. David knew who his Keeper was. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He Who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121.
The Hebrew word for keep is Shamar. It means: to keep, guard, to keep safe, preserve, to protect, to watch (as a watchman of cattle or sheep), and to hedge around something (as if with thorns). (Key Word Study Bible). David kept his father’s sheep safe from predators who would devour them. It was his responsibility to not only nurture them, but to care for them. He also meditated upon the Lord Who was guarding and keeping him from danger. “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4. (See entire Psalm).
The Lord also kept David during the eleven years he spent hiding from King Saul. The Prophet Samuel had anointed David to be King Saul’s successor after Saul had sinned against the Lord’s commandment. God enabled David to stay one step ahead of the king and his warriors who wanted to kill him. He guided him and led him out of the path of danger. He even gave him warriors who stood with him and helped him as he journeyed through those tough times. David wrote in gratitude to the Lord, “O Lord, You have brought my life up from Sheol (the place of the dead); You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (the grave).” Psalm 30:3.
“Bless our God, O peoples, give Him grateful thanks and make the voice of His praise be heard. Who put and kept us among the living, and has not allowed our feet to slip.” Psalm 66:8-9.
I am one who has had a history of being anxious or worried since childhood. The Lord showed me He had protected me that night He told me not to open the door. It was over 20 years ago, but I am just now understanding Him as my full-time Keeper. There is a difference between having a head knowledge of something and it becoming faith that is unshakeable. Head knowledge is more like a “wish” than faith. I can say I believe something God has promised but when I’m in the trenches of testing, I find out whether it is faith from true belief or a wish I hoped would come to pass. Lately the world stage has given us many opportunities to become fearful or worried. Now more than ever we (the church) must begin to function in genuine faith from KNOWING the Lord keeps his promises.
Psalm 91 has always intrigued me. I have framed it, given it to a soldier in Iraq, and to people dealing with fear or physical illness. I have read it to a parent preparing to meet the Lord and used it to encourage the body of Christ. I can’t say that I have had true faith in all its promises when I think of scenarios where I might apply it. Last week when the Lord spoke to me, “I AM your Keeper”, something congealed inside my heart. His promise has become heavier, more substantial than ever before. This promise however, is not just for me, it is for us all! There are times coming which many of us will go through before the Lord returns. The world will begin to become more dangerous and scary as the Bible foretells us, but the children of God need not fear. When persecution comes, the glory of God will surround us. He will lead us and guide us, as the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night protected and led the Israelites when they came out of slavery in Egypt. We will not simply survive, we will thrive with the knowledge that God is our Keeper! This revelation will be as important to us in life as when we one day face death.
God’s promise is for those “who dwell in the shelter of the Most High.” He assures them they “will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].” He declares they “will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!” The result of our standing in faith assures “He will save you from the trap of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall. You will not be afraid of the terror of night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but danger will not come near you”…Why? “Because you have made the LORD, your refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, (daily intimacy through thanksgiving, prayer, worship and the Word with God). No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will command His angels in regard to you, to protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service]”…The Lord explains why, “Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never].” He again promises “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and I will let him see My salvation.” (Emphasis mine).
Jacob knew God as his keeper. Isaac and Rebekah sent him away after he received Esau’s birthright and blessing through cunning and deceit. Jacob obeyed his father and his mother but Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac so he went to Ishmael and took more heathen wives. (See Genesis 28:7-9). Esau despised his birthright. (See Genesis 25:29-34). Jacob treasured and honored the birthright. God had prophesied to Rebekah the elder son would serve the younger one. The Bible says after Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew, “Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.” Esau rejected the God of Abraham and Isaac while Jacob embraced the Lord. When Jacob left his father and mother at their instruction because Esau vowed to kill him, he had an encounter with the Lord. The Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream and gave him many promises including His protection. “And behold, I am with you and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you.” Genesis 28:15. Every promise of God was fulfilled and the Lord brought healing between Jacob and Esau.
Isaiah knew the keeping power of the Lord. “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.” Isaiah 26:3
I am learning to keep my mind occupied with the goodness of the Lord, the promises of God and his faithfulness to fulfill His Word, instead of worrying about my problems. Playing scenarios in my head causes fear, worry and anxiety which kill faith. We must put all our trust in the Lord because we cannot protect ourselves. God’s protection doesn’t mean we won’t see or experience some difficult situations, it means He will keep us in spite of those things!
Last week as I began writing this article, the Lord proved His word to me again. My husband and I love to hike for exercise. The spring rains have brought a prolific growth of plants in the forest this year. Our hiking paths have become very narrow with the over-growth of ferns, ground cover, leafy trees and shrubs. Living in a forestry and mountainous area we can encounter deer, bear and poisonous snakes. We make precautions for such encounters including deciding when and where we hike. We chose to avoid the narrow paths with the arrival of warm weather because the overgrowth supplied ample hiding places for the copperheads and rattlesnakes. We elected to hike the jeep trail near our home, which was wide and open. Except for a few rocks here and there, the road was clear. We were a good mile into our hike and were enjoying our conversation as we walked together. My husband was a couple steps ahead of me and several feet to my right. I lifted my left foot to take a step and “happened” to look down at the road. To my shock, I saw that I was about to step on a copperhead which is a poisonous snake. His coloring was much like the road. He was lying completely straight like a stick, with his head slightly raised. He lay deathly still as if hoping to catch prey that inadvertently passed his way. I shrieked and stepped backward several feet. My husband had already passed by him without noticing him. Fortunately, he was walking several feet to the right, just out of his reach. My heart was racing, but at that moment I knew the Lord had kept us both safe!
The goodness of God caused me to look down and distinguish that snake from the ground keeping me from danger. Understanding that truth made my heart rejoice. He really is my Keeper! We’ve been in many near miss tragedies and have been well aware that God’s grace had kept us safe, but this took His keeping power to another level. We need not fear or worry. We do not have to spend another moment concerned for things we cannot control. He is our Keeper. We simply need to put our whole trust and faith in Him. I would like to close with one of my favorite scripture verses. Jude 24-25, “Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight)—To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity). Amen.” The Lord is truly watching over all who make Him their dwelling place. His promise is sure: “I AM your Keeper!”