A Companion of Them that Fear Thee

With whom do we associate ourselves? David has a clear answer for this question when he says, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts” (Ps.119:63). David reigned over all Israel. He could choose anyone and everyone to be his companion, yet David chose very carefully who his companions would be. He chose those who put God before himself. This choice is altogether strange to the kings of the world. Why choose those who worship a greater King and not those who will give their all to David? We see in David’s life a great measure of wisdom in how he chose his companions. David learned the sorrow and emptiness of fellowship with the world in the land of the Philistines, then he learned to trust in God and dwell in fellowship with Christ and His people. His story shows us what we must look for in our companions and what kind of companions we are called to be. 

David once tasted the bitter chastisement of God for trusting and making friends with those whom God despised. In I Sam. 27, David’s fear turned to unbelief, and he, with his men, moved to the land of the Philistines. He forsook his friendship with Jonathan and his kinship with Israel to live with ungodly men, because he feared Saul and did not trust in God to protect him. Achish, king of Gath, wanted nothing but for David to destroy the covenant children of God. David lived a lie for a year and four months, telling Achish that he went against Judah. God never blesses a lie. David walked in a wrong way and entangled himself in impossible situations. David learned that looks can be deceiving: “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10). The kindness and trust of Achish would never benefit David because they each served different masters and lived for a different purpose. By His mercy, the Lord brought David to repentance. God will never deny Himself by forsaking His own in the hands of His enemies. God taught David the importance of an antithetical life through a difficult way, the way He saw was most perfect.

David was a man who “trust[ed] in the LORD” and inquired of God’s will (Ps. 118:8; Ps. 11:1-3; Ps. 27). He highly regarded the saints and called them “the excellent, in whom is all my delight” (Ps. 16:3). David cherished God’s Word, which is shown in how he lived in communion with his friends. God knew that this future king’s life was not easy, being a bulwark, a defense against God’s enemies. So God sent a faithful friend and valiant soldiers to comfort and accompany his servant David. The Lord, in his wisdom and unfailing mercy, provided a faithful friend, Jonathan. What kind of friend was Jonathan to David? Scripture shows that their friendship was free of envy. Rather than being jealous of David’s future position as King, Jonathan kept God’s command and helped him become King. Jonathan sympathized with David when he was persecuted and haunted by Jonathan’s own father, King Saul. Jonathan was wise and godly, a friend fit for a godly king of Israel. He was a true friend who sought not to gain, but to give (Acts 20:35). He “strengthened [David’s] hand in God” (I Sam. 23:16). Why was it important for David to choose his friends wisely? Because even a man after God’s own heart does not always dwell on mountaintops of faith. He has many enemies that can cause him many troubles and can be a reason for his spiritual low point (Ps. 59, I Sam. 20, 21).  He needs a friend who can strengthen his faith in Jehovah and not lead him astray from God’s Word. 

David teaches us both what to avoid and what to pursue in making companions. Whom we call “friend” should be of great importance and concern to every believer. Friends have a great impact on our lives. Their preferences, lifestyle, attitude, taste, and beliefs quickly rub off onto us. The pressure of worldly friends can lead us, like David, to hurt the covenant children of God. Even if they do not command it, like Achish, their influence will change us and start to point us against God’s people. It is more likely that close companionship with the world will influence us rather than that we will influence them for good. We cannot change a man’s heart. This relationship of friendship/companionship can be a great benefit to us, or it can cause us to slip. 

Leaving the church and making friendship with the world is disobedience to God. We cannot unite Christ with the world. Solomon warns us that “many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (Prov. 7:26-27). Some may say, “It is true we may not unite ourselves with a harlot as Solomon warns, but isn’t that a bit dramatic when we are speaking of a simple friendship with someone in the world?” Perhaps one’s friend in the world appears to live a decent life, but the devil has always worked sneakily like a serpent and with poison under his lips (Psalm 140:3). As Paul puts it, we cannot “be conformed to this world” but must instead be transformed and “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). Paul, like David, emphasizes the importance of the way we and our friends walk. We do not make friends with those who are opposed to God’s will, but with God’s “peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). We walk united in one pursuit to glorify God. We put Him before ourselves. 

What does all this say about our calling to be a companion? How must we walk so that others may call us their companion? In regards to dating, Rev. Joshua Engelsma said, “We should give more thought to becoming someone rather than finding someone.” Likewise, I think it is important in friendship not to focus on the mote in our brother’s eye, but consider the beam in our own. Are we worthy of being called a companion? Do we fear the Lord and keep his commandments in all our walk? Follow the example of Jonathan. Learn how he walked. We should “study to shew [ourselves] approved unto God” (II Tim. 2:15). We must know our God well and know His Word to live out of it and be a good companion to others. Strengthen your friends in the Lord as Jonathan did to David. Practically, speak about God, listen to music that glorifies God and causes others to look toward Him, do devotions together, encourage one another with scripture, and live in Christ that by your example others may see the light. These things can often feel awkward to us or maybe even sound cheesy. That is the sad truth because we should be filled with such excitement that this comes naturally. Continue to pray for strength and work on it every day to better be a Jonathan to your David. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10).

Who are your friends? What do they fear? More importantly, whom do you fear? Do you encourage your friends to fear the Lord and walk after his precepts? In his life and in his writing David testifies to us of the importance of putting God first in all things. This truth most certainly applies to with whom we associate ourselves. Walk with God’s people and we will be drawn closer to Him; walk with the wicked and we will slowly slide down the path to hell. “The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just” (Prov. 3:33).

Grace Vencer and Luke Potjer

Works Cited: 

Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pg. 66, Dating Differently. Reformed Free Publishing Association.

To Call Him Father

He is the one we expected to check under the bed for monsters or what those scary noises in the basement were. He instills a sense of safety and security for his children. To a young boy, he is Superman’s equivalent, to a young girl, a knight in shining armor, and while these opinions might grow and change with the child, a father will always be a man that deserves respect and earns trust, one whose advice carries weight and whose decisions we follow. A father is so many things to his children, and just his presence is often a comfort.

In many ways, God is personified in our earthly fathers. In fact, God’s people have always addressed Him as Father, and He commands us to do as much throughout the Scriptures. Job and David both cried out to God in their afflictions with the name “Father” on their lips. Jesus himself, in his sermon on the mount recorded in Matthew 6:9, instructs his people to begin their prayers saying “Our Father which art in Heaven…” My pastor, Rev. Holstege, gave a sermon about this very address that we so commonly take upon our lips, and much of the comfort that he brought was worth sharing.

To see the significance of this address, we need to understand the right we have to call this righteous God our Father. It is not our doing, for we could not choose him any more than a helpless, screaming child would claim his father on the day of his birth. By nature, we could never belong in His family since those dead in sin could never belong to a perfect Father. We bear the stains of Christ’s blood on our hands because of the sins that we continue to commit. How then can we have the right to address the almighty God as our Father?

We call God our Father only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The very blood that colors our hands red is the price of the adoption that made us His. In Galatians 4:4-6 we read of the work that Christ did for us. “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman… to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Because Christ came to this earth as a man and paid for our sins, we are redeemed and adopted into God’s family. How amazing that we can call Him Father for Jesus’ sake!

So, what does it mean to call God our Father?

A young child does not have to be afraid of  His loving father. He does not need to worry that, when he speaks to his father, he will be judged for what he says or how he says it. A child has no fear in addressing his father without barriers or without flowery words. He can just speak his heart and trust that his father will listen. This same confidence is present in the way we can speak to our Father in heaven. He is not going to condemn us for a simple request or an insufficient amount of eloquence in our conversation with Him. To call Him “Father” comes with this promise: Jehovah hears His children and loves the words that they speak to Him however they are delivered in true faith. 

“To call Him ‘Father’ comes with this promise: Jehovah hears His children and loves the words that they speak to Him however they are delivered in true faith.”

The whispered request of a child in the ear of his father will always be a hard one to deny. The excited, garbled story that comes flying into a father’s ear as he steps through the door after a long day at work is one that he cannot wait to hear. When a child speaks, his father listens because there is nothing he loves more than hearing his child’s trusting voice, sharing these words. Our Father in heaven delights in our words in this same way. God comes down to us, just as a loving father stoops to his child’s level and listens with love to everything his child says.

A father is someone that a child desires to emulate. If dad gets out his big hammer, then a young boy could, quite possibly, be found searching the toy box for his handy set of plastic tools. When dad comes home with some flowers and a smile for his wife, the daughter will see the love that he shows and treasure it. Through a child’s eye, a father is strong enough to move mountains if necessary. Although no earthly father could possess such super-human strength, our Father in heaven does, indeed, have the power to move mountains and separate oceans to protect His children. With Him, we have no need to fear what men may do to us. He is strong and capable. One that we can place our full trust in.

“With Him, we have no need to fear what men may do to us. He is strong and capable. One that we can place our full trust in.”

There are times when trusting is difficult. Like a small child who doesn’t always see what’s best for him, we do not know why we must go through certain things in this life. It hurts to hear the word “no”. Yet sometimes this is the response that a child must receive for his own protection. Though our prayers might be answered differently than we would like, God is our Father and He will only do what is best for us. Trusting Him is not always easy, but it is always safe.

For some of God’s people, calling Him Father does not promise the comfort that the loving term ought to. They do not know what the tender love of the Father is, because they have not experienced the love of an earthly one. Maybe for them, the word ‘father’ instills fear rather than trust, danger rather than security, hurtful words rather than loving assurance, abandonment rather than a comforting presence. It is an awful thing when a child’s view of a father is bruised and broken by a man who doesn’t deserve the right to that name. In this world, parents will fail. To destroy the trust of a child is a terrible sin.

To those who cannot find the trust because of the damage that an earthy parent has inflicted, God gives them hope. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up” (Ps. 27:10). God gives us the type of a father, but He is THE ultimate Father who will never make mistakes, who will never hurt one of His children or allow another to do so. He will never leave us or forsake us, though an earthly parent might.  

“… But ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15b). Through the adoption that is ours in Christ, we have the ability to address God as “Abba, Father.” The word Abba holds a beautiful meaning. It goes beyond the word father. It carries the idea of warm, intimate love and complete trust. This type of trust and assurance is what we have towards our Father in Heaven. 

We have a God who loves us. One who protects us and cares for us. One who sees us as His own precious children. For the sake of Christ, we belong to Him, and He will never let us go. He hears and treasures our every word and gives us every reason to trust Him for our every need and in any fear. To have a God like that is what it means to call Him Father.

Mikaia Looyenga

20/20 Vision

Out of all the senses that God has blessed us with, our eyes dictate our actions and feelings more than any other sense. We judge distances, colors, textures, and sadly, even fellow classmates purely on what we see. Driving, playing sports, or even staring out the window and admiring God’s creation would be impossible without the delicate eyes that God has created. As a result of sin, our eyes do not always work perfectly. Some are born with a lazy eye or need thick glasses to make out the individual leaves on the trees or just to see the front of the classroom. Some people are even born blind and never have the privilege of sight. Modern technology has created glasses so many who couldn’t see, now can. We all want to have 20/20 vision. 

As humans, we like to be in charge and know what is coming next, and so we long for that perfect sight. But even if we have perfect vision of the marker board or the book that we are reading, we are still as blind as a bat when it comes to our future. We can make guesses as to what will happen but we never know for sure. This year has been a clear example of this. 

The year 2020 started out normally; then God reminded us that He is ultimately in charge. He alone has true 20/20 vision. He is the one leading us by the hand through life. We can look back and clearly see what has happened in the past but when we look forward, it is all blurry. We may squint our eyes and try to make out the shapes and shadows we see in the distance, but we need God’s guiding hand to lead us through, for only He knows what’s up ahead. COVID is one of those dark shadows we see ahead but do not know how long it will last or how our future will be affected by it. This may cause us to fear. As humans, we like to know what is ahead, but the reality is that we are blind and have no control over our life at all. Blessed be God who does not leave us to grope around aimlessly in the shadows of our future but gently takes our hand and guides us through! 

He gave us eyes so that we may look to Him in times of distress and need. We do not NEED to look ahead for He is our eyes for the future. We only need to look up into His eyes and be assured that He loves us and is guiding us in love. As we near the end of this year with an election, COVID cases, and civil unrest, we need not fear. With eyes of faith, look to the one who can lead and guide us through life. He alone has true 20/20 vision and will lead us in love through this life until He gathers us in His arms to enjoy eternal life with Him in glory.

Arianne VanUffelen