When you think about God, do you think about how He keeps you?
What does this term mean? To "keep".
I did a word search in the bible of all the times the word ‘keep’, ‘keeping’ or ‘kept’ is mentioned, and it’s astonishing the depth of care that is illuminated in a study like this.
There’s such a sense of close connection and steadfastness with which we associate the word “keeping”, yet we rarely give it the consideration and literal understanding we should.
The main thing that was highlighted to me in my study of God as my Keeper, is the clear indications of His character.
His eyes of love are always on me, He watches over me, He protects me, He shields me, He guides me, He’s invested in me, He stays close to me, He remembers me, He concentrates on me, He considers me and my cause, He holds on to me with a firm grip that refuses to relinquish me to anything that is not from Him. He may allow me to experience evil if I rebel against Him but He never actually lets go; His eyes are never arrested from me; His knowledge of me never ceases; His care of me never ceases.
The bible says God IS love. This shows us that God's character traits of "keeping" are full of His love; whatever He ordains over us is worked out through His love.
A study of God's "keeping" illustrates a multi-faceted understanding of the measures He goes to for our sake. Here's some of the attributes I found.
Luke 2:8 says And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (NIV)
Shepherds – of which Jesus is a portrait – actually live with their flock. The flock is never abandoned or left alone. The shepherd chooses their grazing patch, looks out for dangerous animals, looks after all their needs, their wounds, goes ahead to lead them along the right paths to get to where they need to graze and circles back around to keep any stragglers within the bunch. The shepherd knows and counts every sheep. Shepherds keep watch. They stay. They tend. They care. Jesus says, in John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep." (NIV)
Genesis 31:49)… “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. (NIV)
Here, there’s an element of refereeing for the two men involved in this conversation. A referee, and a judge, is someone who understands the bigger picture and is there to ensure impartial fairness. He doesn't take His eyes off the play. He ensures justice. He makes calls for the team and is listened to. He gives direction.
Psalm 19:11 By them [the Lord’s precepts and commands] your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (NIV)
Here, we are admonished to keep God’s law pivotal in our lives as a priceless gem, a trophy. In keeping them, clutching them to us so we don't lose them. Think about the level of attention and resolve needed for that. Think about the level of grateful joy and devotion, even abandonment, to the meaning of “keeping” here.
Here is a list of words that are linked in the scriptures with keeping. Don't just read the words. Absorb what Jesus' keeping means for you.
Withstands Opposition (Proverbs 4:24; Psalm 19:13; Psalm 121:7; Genesis 31:49)
Sets Apart (Hebrews 13:5; 1 Timothy 5:22)
Honours (Galatians 5:25; Exodus 20:6; Psalm 141:3)
Treasures (Psalm 19:11)
It’s eternal (Exodus 20:8; 1 Peter 1:4; Psalm 19:11; Matthew 3:8)
Concerned with History and Future (2 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 13:5)
Keeping (Exodus 20:8)
Protecting (Jude :24; Proverbs 4:24)
Merciful/Compassionate (1 Corinthians 13:5)
Watches Over (Luke 2:8; Genesis 31:49)
Shields (1 Timothy 5:22; Isaiah 26:3)
Aligns With (Ephesians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 7:19)
Forgives (Psalm 130:3)
Stays (Luke 2:8; Psalm 18:28)
Thinks about (1 Corinthians 7:19)
Invests in (Galatians 5:25; James 2:10)
Remains (2 Timothy 4:7)
Holds on to (Numbers 6:24)
Adheres to/ Sticks with (Matthew 3:8)
Concentrates on (1 John 5:3; Luke 2:8)
Remembers/ Never Forgets (2 Timothy 4:7; Exodus 20:6; Psalm 121:7)
Sees Something Through (Psalm 19:11)
Holds Fast (2 Timothy 4:5)
Prudent/ Discerns (Amos 5:13)
Never Lets Go Of (Genesis 4:9; James 2:10)
Loyal/Faithful (Luke 12:35; 1 Peter 1:4)
Believes in (Ephesians 4:3; Psalm 19:11)
Considers (Psalm 141:3; 2 Timothy 4:5)
Trustworthy (Matthew 10:10; 2 Peter 3:9)
In practical terms, how can we apply this?
In my daily life, this is how I apply it. I have an ongoing situation that is a constant challenge. My son has had to go backwards and forwards between my household and his dad’s for years. We were never married, had an acrimonious separation and our relationship is like a sore that never heals over. As a mother I’m always on alert when my child's away, not always knowing where he is, what he’s doing, who he’s with, how he’s doing, etc,. It has shaped the way we relate with each other and the way we function in our relationship that is completely different to other nuclear families. I constantly have to commit him into God’s hands with the belief that God is all of the things we’ve seen here in this list. It doesn't take away the brokenness of how we live but that is also part of the walk of faith and belief in God's keeping of us.
By faith, I have to choose to rest in the goodness, steadfastness, faithfulness, watchfulness, consideration, protection and loving-kindness of God. If anything does go wrong, I trust that God is trustworthy and will help us in our circumstances and show us what is good.
I have also learned (and need to keep learning) to trust in my ability to manage difficult situations with the power of God with a fuller, more compassionate understanding than I have on my own. If God is my keeper, and I keep His instructions close to my heart, then the bible tells me my household is secure – even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
More and more, I am learning to live with a spiritually awakened knowledge of how to function differently in natural circumstances. This calls for a completely different mindset; one that relies on the fullness of God in my life as opposed to a partial acceptance, or a partial adherence. God is all or nothing. Such is the concept of "keeping".
When we accept that kind of relationship with Him, our capacity for faith is immeasurable because we are believing in a God that has an all-encompassing care about every detail of our existence and that existence extends eternally. That is how I can feel, touch, sense, know and accept His keeping of me and my household in perfect peace. That is how I can grow and learn not to be directed by things like bitterness, unforgiveness, fear or feelings of inadequacy.
I pray that you are able to take away a richer embrace of God's beautiful keeping of you.