Words From The Heart: Special Weekly Reflection #43

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“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”
Deuteronomy 33:12 (NIV)

Mt. Nebo, in modern day Jordan, stands overlooking the valley of the Jordan River. From the summit on a clear day you can look across to see Jerusalem, and the Mediterranean Sea on the horizon. At the end of his life, not allowed by God to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, Moses gazed at its expanse from Mt. Nebo, and then blessed the various tribes of Israel who stood before him.

Deuteronomy 33 records those blessings. The tribe of Benjamin, from which King Saul came, and along with Judah formed the Southern Kingdom of Judah following Solomon’s death, is given a wonderful promise by Moses. Deuteronomy 33:12: “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”

When Moses divided the Promised Land among the 12 tribes of Israel, Benjamin was given the land north of Judah and south of Ephraim and Manasseh. When Israel split into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, Benjamin found itself between the two, first joining the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but eventually joining Judah. Jewish scholars tell us that this is the meaning of Benjamin resting “between his shoulders.”

It is a beautiful picture of God’s love for His people. Even when His people went their own way, even when it caused a split between tribes that was never reconciled, He assures Benjamin of His love and protection.

Benjamin would need it. In chapters 19-21 we read the story of the Battle of Gibeah. A civil war had broken out in Israel, and almost the entire tribe of Benjamin had been wiped out by the rest of the tribes of Israel. Six hundred of the men from the tribe of Benjamin survived by hiding out in caves for six months. Later marrying women from the tribe of Machir (part of Manasseh), the tribe of Benjamin managed to survive.

Knowing what lay ahead, God through Moses gave the tribe of Benjamin a promise of His love for them. While hiding in the caves after their wives and children had been massacred, those 600 remaining Benjaminites must have clung to God’s promise of His love and protection for them. Like the caves shielded them from their pursuers, God promised to shield them. They could rest between His shoulders.

So can you. God loves you just as much as He loved the people of Benjamin. Even when the sin of some among their ranks led to their near demise, God had a plan to protect them and give them a way out.

In the midst of the current pandemic, God loves you. As you trust in Him, as you rest between His shoulders, He promises His protection. We are all susceptible to the physical impact of COVID-19 on our bodies. It calls for care and wisdom. But the Lord promises to His beloved to put a guard over our hearts. May you find Him to be so in these unique and challenging days as you “rest between His shoulders.”

I’m Bob Beasley, and these have been words from the heart.