“If they dig down to Sheol, from there my hand will take them; if they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. If they hide on the top of Carmel, from there I will track them down and seize them; if they conceal themselves from my sight on the sea floor, from there I will command the sea serpent to bite them.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever tried to get along with someone who was set in his ways? In those types of situations, as long as you are willing to do things their way, you’re not going to have any problems with them. If, on the other hand, you try to introduce some variety to their routine…well…you’re probably asking for trouble. Just for fun don’t ask my wife and kids if I’m right about that. As someone who might be able to speak to this with…firsthand knowledge…I prefer to think of being set in ones ways as having a consistent character just like God does. Yeah, that’s it. I’ll go with that. And the thing about dealing with someone who has a consistent character is that it’s great if you operate consistently with it. If you don’t…things can get a bit messier.
One of the more beloved of the various psalms David wrote is Psalm 139. In this incredible reflection on the intimate knowledge our heavenly Father has of us, David spends some time marveling at the fact that no matter what, we can’t get away from Him.
He says this: “Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” The idea here is not that God is somehow stalking us, but rather that no matter where we may go, God is there with His loving and gracious presence, gently guiding the events of our life down the path He knows is for our good.
Listen, though, to how David describes this in more detail: “If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me.”
Do you notice anything? The words and phrasing David uses are awfully similar to what we see here in Amos 9. Is this merely a coincidence? I don’t think so. I think Amos is borrowing the idea expressed by David to make a somewhat more sinister point.
What David describes in Psalm 139 is simply who God is. One of the things that makes Him God is that He is omnipresent. He exists everywhere at the same time. Because He is spirit and isn’t restricted to a single body, He is simultaneously present in and aware of what is happening everywhere in His creation. No matter where we go, as David says, He is there.
If we are on track with Him, this is a great and comforting truth which is how David intended for it to be taken in Psalm 139. If, on the other hand, we are badly off track with Him and are perhaps trying to hide it, it’s not quite such a comforting thought. The question we need to answer is this: Which is it for us?
God is who He is. Whether that is to our advantage or not depends on how we receive Him. It depends on whether we are living consistent with His way of life or not.
For Israel, they were not only way off track, but they were stubbornly committed to staying there. He had done everything He possibly could have to get them to straighten up, but the time was coming for more extreme measures and they were not going to be able to avoid them. Try as they might, the time had come to pay the price for their sins. No amount of wishing or hiding would get them out of it.
In our own lives, knowing God is with us wherever we go should be an idea that gives us great confidence and courage to live out the life of Christ no matter what might seem to stand in our way. But, if we are set on a path that leads us away from Him, we will not be able to hide from the consequences of our sin forever. The price will eventually come due. Let us live in such a way that God’s omnipresence is a good thing and not a threatening one.