Psalm 46 is a beautiful and comforting prayer. The Psalm begins with a powerful reminder that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble (verse 1). Treasured words to pray and reflect when life throws us a curve ball...
The Lord Almighty is with us (Psalm 46:7)
The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our Fortress! (Psalm 46:7)
Here we see a common Hebrew parallel, where the Lord Almighty is paired with the descriptive title as the God of Jacob. Which begs a question: Out of all the people in the Bible for God to name Himself by, why choose Jacob? Are there not other characters whom might be better suited with better qualities in which to pair God’s Name with? Perhaps a good king like Hezekiah or Josiah the reformer.
What is the character of Jacob?
What is the character of Jacob? He is usually not one that we would hold up as a role model for ourselves. He is not an obvious hero type like David, someone who is noble and brave and stands up to the enemy? David faced giants and defeated them. He battled and stood against kings of all types. On a tender note, it is David who wrote psalms and prayed with heartfelt intent. After all, it is through David that we designate the lineage of the Messiah. Messiah is to be of the House of David, not the House of Jacob.
Jacob: a swindler, liar and charlatan
Rather, Jacob is swindler, a liar and a charlatan. He steals a birthright from his own brother and then cowardly flees the family. Jacob lacks the courage to face his crime. To square the circle while Jacob is away serving his Uncle Laban, the deceiver himself gets deceived by Laban.
Jacob is a fearful man, often paired in the text with the word fear, announcing his reasons for fleeing Laban as ‘I was afraid ..’ (Genesis 31:31). And yet, God identifies Himself as the God of Jacob...
And yet God is still the God of Jacob
It is in that choice of Jacob against other Biblical figures that the we learn something of God’s character.
We learn that He is not deterred by our failings or weaknesses - instead it’s the reverse. It’s in those weaknesses that He is strong and can show His strength. When we are afraid we can hear the call of the Lord, “Do not Fear! For I am with you!”
Examining Jacob’s relationship with God in the Biblical text we discover that Jacob is not a compliant figure. In comparison to someone like Abraham, who obeys immediately the directions of the Words of Heaven, God doesn't give much direction to Jacob. God and Jacob wrestle together, however God does not communicate His intentions or directions to Jacob. Jacob is rarely saved out of his problems, he has to struggle though them, often without a rescue from God. And he has no great military victories like his grandfather Abraham.
However, we see that God pursues Jacob, no matter how far he runs away, giving reassurance often in dreams and visions, often walking behind the scenes in Jacob’s life. We see that redemption sometimes works itself out in a lifetime and is not always instantaneous.
God draws near to those who are imperfect
To a character that is fearful, highly flawed and struggling, we find God drawing near, reassuring and boldly declaring, “I am the God of Jacob”.
This reveals a great deal about the character of God. He is concerned with the struggler, the fearful and the burdened. He sees us in our weakness, loves and guides us anyway, and declares Himself proudly to be ours. Psalm 47:4 declares, “He is the Pride of Jacob, whom He loved”. And that is a very comforting thought indeed.
Ready for further study? Return to the Resources page.