“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
Shortly before my fourth birthday, my parents and I visited Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. The Caverns are famous for their more than 100 caves filled with stalactites hanging from the ceiling, stalagmites rising from the floor and colonies of bats roosting and diving from rocky cliffs. The trails are steep going into the caves, and in the mid-1950’s this was not a place to allow a child to roam freely. What I remember most about this excursion was my dad insisting that I ride on his shoulders while we were in the caves although I wanted to walk like the big girl that I was. As he hoisted me up on his shoulders and wrapped his strong arms around my legs before we entered the main cave, I sat with my arms crossed over my chest and a large pout on my face. It didn’t take long, however, for me to unfold my arms and wrap them tightly about my dad’s neck as the darkness closed around us. Throughout that day, my dad must have been tired from carrying me, but he never put me down, and I rested content in the safety of his arms.
This verse in Deuteronomy is a life verse for me, perhaps because of that experience in Carlsbad Caverns, and perhaps because I can still act like a petulant child demanding to run ahead or lag behind or wander off, because “I’m a big girl now!” Then, just as the darkness looms in front of me, I find myself running to Jesus, being lifted on His shoulders, and wrapping my arms tightly around Him. Over the years, God has imbedded truths from this verse into my heart, and I am learning to settle into His everlasting arms.
In this passage, He addresses first my identity. It is not “who” I am that matters, but “Whose” I am. I am His beloved! This word beloved is used of a song of love. That takes my breath away! Loved so deeply that the Good Shepherd left the 99 and came to find me and rescue me. Loved so completely that the Son of God took my sin upon Him and died for me that I might have life eternal with Him. He calls me His Bride, cherished, and adored as the apple of His eye. I am His!
Then He commands me to rest secure in Him. Just like my dad would tolerate no argument from me about riding through the caves on his shoulders, God’s imperative is for me to settle down in Him. Daddy knew the cave was dark, the path was steep, and there were potentially harmful things ahead of us. He knew the safest place for me was on his shoulders. God knows every detail of what is ahead of each of us. He knows the pitfalls, the stumbling blocks, how treacherous the terrain can be. His desire is for us to confidently, without fear, settle down in Him. And He reminds us that His surrounding protection is constant and continual. We are enclosed, covered, and hidden safely in Him for all eternity. Nothing, and no one, can snatch us from His hands.
Then, because I can struggle with doubt, God tells me again the He loves me and that resting between His shoulders is where I am to abide. For the tribe of Benjamin, they were to abide between the mountains of Zion and Moriah, a place sacred to the LORD. As a believer in Jesus Christ, God dwells in me through the Holy Spirit, and my home is in Him. It is in His presence that I am to remain; it is there that I am protected and assured, and content; it is there that I truly rest. It is there, in His love, that I find peace and purpose and delight. It is there that I am at home.
Father forgive me for kicking and fussing and wanting to go my own way. Thank You for loving me, for carrying me between Your shoulders, for protecting me and surrounding me with your faithful watch-care over me. Gentle Shepherd help me learn to rest in You, to settle into Your strong arms to dwell securely without fear knowing that You know what lies ahead and You will bring me safely home! ©