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Hebrew Spirituality: The Jewish Roots of Trusting God (part 2)

Post Title: Trust = Belief + Hope

You have trust when you wed belief with hope.

The basis of that trust is the character of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the One with whom Jesus came to reconcile us. He alone is trustworthy and true, unlike the gods of the pagan religions—of old and today—who are fickle, who have to be appeased, with whom you are always in some fear. This kind of fear is the fear of punishment.

Unlike those gods, the God of Israel is a God whose chief characteristic is steadfast, unfailing love (hesed). To his hesed is joined his goodness (tov).

That is why the constant refrain of the Psalms is to praise, bless, and give thanks to Yahweh. Why? Because he is good and steadfast, his unfailing love endures forever. He is trustworthy; therefore, our confidence is not based on our merits but on his faithfulness. If he covenants with you—enters into an intimate relationship with you based on his sacred promise—you can count on him to keep the covenant.

The Hebrew scriptures constantly warn of trusting anyone or anything other than God. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7). Indeed, there is only one instance in all the Hebrew Bible where trust is recommended in human affairs other than with respect to God. Do you know where that is?

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. - Proverbs 31:10-11

Paul says, great is the mystery of the covenant marriage between husband and wife, because it speaks of Christ and the church. A healthy marriage is one in which trust flourishes.

To fuel your prayerful meditation and response, here are a few scriptures that extol the virtue of trust.

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. - Psalm 125:1-2

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. - Jeremiah 17:7-8

By the way, in the very next verse, Jeremiah reminds us not to trust in our mind, our knowledge, our wisdom, intellect, skills, or power. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! - Psalm 32:10-11

When you trust, you can praise. The friendship of the LORD is to those who stand in awe of him. The kindness of the LORD surrounds those who trust in him.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. - Isaiah 26:3

The one whose mind is stayed is steady. What is perfect peace in Hebrew? It is the familiar word shalom repeated twice, Shalom Shalom. When we meditate on God, on his words and works, we shall have Shalom Shalom.

The prophet continues in verse four, Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. This text transitions us to the second important Hebrew idea related to trust, seeking God as a refuge. He is a place to flee for protection, which is an act of trust.

Let's look at this more closely in Psalm 62. For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken (1-2). In verse eight we see this combination of trust with God as a refuge, Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. Our trust is based on the fact that God is steadfast; he is a refuge, a fortress, a rock.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust (Psalm 91:1-2). There are many parallels to this idea: God is a fortress, rock, shelter, strength, stronghold.

The point is, because God is a refuge, we can flee to him with confidence and experience the shalom shalom of his care.

Here are just some of the results, according to Scripture, of exhibiting this kind of refuge seeking trust in your God: to be blessed (Ps 2:12), to be saved (Ps 17:7), to rejoice (Ps 5:11), to find goodness (Ps 31:19), to possess the land of promise (Isaiah 57:13).

Now, lest we get naively enthusiastic here and you think, "Well, this guy is up here just preaching as if everything in the world is donuts and coffee rather than bitter drinks." Let me assure you of something. Biblically speaking, trust in God does not automatically guarantee that you will be exempt from hardship or harm. We are not proclaiming here a naive, simplistic gospel of prosperity. In fact, the real quality of our trust often emerges in testing and trials.

Here is a powerful point to ponder. There are actually more lament than praise psalms in the Book of Psalms (Tehillim).

The psalms were composed in the midst of turmoil and turbulence, both private and public. That is why they are so often filled with laments. In that respect, they mirror our experience. The language of the psalms is often erratic and abrupt, demonstrating the urgency of the situation in which the writer is caught and from which they cry out to the One who is Faithful and True.

One Jewish commentator said the book of Psalms is "a battlefront diary," composed by those who struggle with evil and enemies—both within and without. Often the psalms are not so much poetry as a cry for help. This observation adds a dimension that enables us to profit from their uniqueness even more.

Yes, psalms are valuable for what they say, but they are equally precious to us for when they say it.

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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

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