Undervaluing the Divine Presence
Psa. 68:17With mighty chariotry, twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands,
the Lord came from Sinai into the holy place. (NRSV)
Psalm 68:17 The chariots of God are twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands;
the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
Psalm 68:17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. (KJV)
It’s interesting that the translators seemed to struggle with this verse from the Psalmist David. It’s a Psalm of praise and remembrance, and an encouragement to see the hand of God at work. The original when literally translated comes out something like this, “the war chariots of Elohim are myriads, a thousand thousands.” Somewhere along the way the translators of the King James Version added angels to those chariots, probably assuming those chariots needed heavenly drivers, but there are no angels in the original text. The ESV actually comes a bit closer to the original than the NRSV, but both are pointing to the fact that God has thousands and thousands of chariots. The number is far more than any known nation or king would have had and so it is a vision of the power, might and glory of God.
The vision is a revelation of the kingdom of God which began with the covenant at Sinai and would eventually end at Mount Zion, the holy place. It is a vision of the presence and provision of God throughout their entire journey. Far too often the people thought God had abandoned them but they failed to open their eyes and see the Divine presence. The people of God often undervalued the Divine presence and David wants them to open their eyes and see, just as Elisha would one day:
2Kings 6:16 He replied, “Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed: “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
David’s description matches the one of Elisha. The chariots of God are myriads, but we far too often fail to see his presence and therefore we succumb to fear when the things of this world weigh in on us. The Divine presence, more powerful than chariots of fire, are like the presence of the Holy Spirit who goes with us into life. David reminds us that we are not to fear for the Divine presence is greater than any power or force on earth.
Nearly two hundred years ago a woman, Clara Scott, penned these words:
Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me.
Place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes; illumine me,
We need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the Divine presence which surrounds us. Too many followers of Jesus Christ are living in fear, feeling as if they are alone in the world. We are trying to do everything on our own and we are ignoring the power and the presence of God which surrounds us on a daily basis. We have become material people, those who believe and trust in the things that we can touch and see. Sadly, we miss out on the power and presence of the Holy Spirit who is ready to be at work in our lives. We are undervaluing the Divine presence and therefore we live very powerless lives.
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to his followers. That same Holy Spirit who came upon his followers on Pentecost is still at work today. Divine power is still surrounding God’s children, but we fail to see it. We are not to be afraid, but pray that our eyes may be opened and live in the power and presence of God on high.
Lord, the song of Clara Scott is my prayer today. Please, open my eyes to see you. Amen.