The Names of God: Elohim Machase Lanu

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Bible readers cannot help but marvel at God’s grace in David’s life as they read the historical record and the Psalms. Few of God’s children will be able to identify with the almost relentless opposition that he faced. Even so, we take great encouragement from his frequent prayers. Though we may find it difficult to put ourselves circumstantially in his shoes, we learn a great deal from him in terms of prayer in affliction.

Psalm 62 is a bit of an anomaly. In it, he writes of those who “attack” and “batter” him (v. 3). The word translated “attack” implies being stormed upon with loud cries and raised fists. No wonder he felt like a leaning wall and a tottering fence. He could not endure much more without collapsing.

And yet there is a strange feature of this psalm: Nowhere does David make a petition. It is a psalm in which he expresses unshakeable confidence in God. He writes in the midst of tremendous distress, which might have driven him to despair, yet he displays an almost eerie sense of calm. H. C. Leupold observes,

There is scarcely another psalm that reveals such an absolute and undisturbed peace, in which confidence in God is so completely unshaken, and in which assurance is so strong that not even one single petition is voiced throughout the psalm. Men who were in distress have often longed that they might manifest a spirit of undismayed calm such as this writer possessed.

David’s confidence in God is astonishing in this psalm. The same man who frequently poured out his heart to God, expressing his fears, doubts, and anxieties, here displays a supernatural calm. The opening verse carries the idea of utter resignation to God alone as his source of confidence. It is as if he is saying, “It is only as I look to God that my soul can wait in silence.” There is no other source of confidence that can sustain him in his affliction, and he cannot but be sustained as he looks to God alone. In this context, he speaks of “God” his “refuge” (Elohim Machase Lanu) (v. 8).

As we survey the teaching of this psalm, we find that embracing God as one’s refuge means resigning oneself entirely into God’s care. When one resigns oneself into God’s sovereign care, one is able to face one’s distresses with calm assurance, knowing that he controls and allows all things. It gives us a supernatural sense of confidence and assurance in God despite one’s circumstances. Notice three things that embracing Elohim Machase Lanu—God our Refuge—enables.

First, when God is our refuge, we are able to live with silent hope (vv. 1–4). “For God alone my soul waits in silence” (v. 1). David did not grumble about the injustice of his circumstances. He did not rail against his enemies. He trusted silently in the Lord. He did so because he realised that, ultimately, grumbling and complaining would do little good. “From [God] comes my salvation” (v. 1). If there was hope of deliverance, it would come from God alone. God was his “rock,” his “salvation,” and his “fortress” (v. 2).

But notice that, even as he rested in God as his rock, salvation, and fortress, he was not oblivious to his afflictions. While resting in God, he kept one eye on his enemies: “How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse” (vv. 3–4). We see here a picture, in part, of what it means to embrace Elohim Machase Lanu.

While he was painfully aware of the enemies who surrounded him, he nevertheless waited “in silence” on God his deliverer. “Silence,” says Ligon Duncan, implies “unmurmuring submission to God’s will.” He would not sin against God and discourage God’s people by grumbling against God’s providence. Instead, he would keep one eye on his foes while silently trusting in God to deliver him.

Are you tempted, when you face affliction, to grumble, as the Israelites grumbled in the wilderness? Not only did their grumbling dishonour God; it discouraged their brothers and sisters. When you are tempted to grumble against God, or to turn elsewhere for hope, don’t. Learn from David that silent trust in God is your best hope in affliction and the greatest source of encouragement to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray that God will impress upon your soul that he alone is your hope for deliverance from the afflictions that he allows in your life.

Second, when God is our refuge, we are able to live with patient hope. “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (vv. 5–8).

Here, still under the fire of affliction, David talked to himself. He would love to be free from the affliction, but he realised that patient hope was more important than immediate deliverance. “Wait in silence,” he preached to himself. Knowing that God was able to deliver him (vv. 1–4), but seeing that God had chosen not to immediately do so, he encouraged himself to wait, to be patient, to continue silently trusting in the Lord.

At the same time, he realised that others might need this same encouragement. So he preached the lessons he had learned to those who would listen: “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” God’s ways are not always our ways, nor is his timing always our timing. He knows what he is doing. He is our only hope of deliverance. The best lesson we can learn as we embrace him as Elohim Machase Lanu is to trust him to deliver in his time. Wait and believe. Be patient and trust.

Notice that, as he trusted in God, his focus on his enemies faded. There is no mention of his foes in these verses. God had become so big to him that his enemies were now insignificant. The troubles had not vanished, but they paled in comparison to the character and grace of God. The way to come to this point is to “pour out your heart before him.” Prayer enables patience and trust.

Third, when God is our refuge, we are able to live with wise hope. With God as his refuge, David was able to weigh the real threat. “Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath” (v. 9). Whether his enemies were commoners or nobility, they were nothing compared to Elohim Machase Lanu. They could do their best to plot his downfall, but they were powerless against God.

As he draws his song to a close, David exhorts his readers to remember two crucial truths: God is all-powerful (v. 11) and all-loving (v. 12). When faced with suffering, people have long concluded that God cannot be both all-powerful and all-loving. The very existence of suffering must mean, they say, that God is either not loving enough to care or not powerful enough to end it. David exhorts us to not buy this lie. The omnipotent, omnibenevolent God cares for his people, even as he allows them to be afflicted, but he will “render to a man according to his work” (v. 12). Those who afflict God’s people will not afflict them forever. God’s people will not live with affliction forever. Elohim Machase Lanu will see to it. We can therefore live before him with silent hope, patient hope, and wise hope.