Even for the lion that roams as the king of the jungle, or the huge elephant that no other animal usually messes with, life begins as a young helpless baby that needs protection from predators and danger that lurks at every corner. Man is no different- despite being the undisputed king of the animal world, he needs protection throughout his life.
The Bible abounds with reassurances to his disciples about the sufficiency of the Lord to watch over us. Consider Psalms 121:5-7:
The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life.
References to the Lord watching over your right hand and over your life point to the protection received for our efforts and the sustenance of our very lives respectively. The Lord keeping us from all harm is an absolute statement and indicates the completeness of God’s effort in protecting those who trust in him. Only God can make a statement of that sort.
What do we need protection from? The Psalmist talks of the Lord protecting us from the sun by day and the moon by night. What could he be referring to? Interpreted in prose form, this could refer to a sweeping assertion of the Lord’s ability to protect his children from all dangers that one might encounter during the day or night. Taken literally, though the sun is life sustaining, we are all too aware of the dangers that the hot sun can cause- dehydration, sunstroke, blindness, cancer, and death in unusual circumstances.
The moon causing sickness is harder to find. Epilepsy, strokes and mental illnesses have been linked to the full moon, whereas some studies have failed to show any association. Some studies though have shown that the lunar phase has no bearing on human or animal diseases. However medical practitioners especially those working with mentally ill patients frequently do report an increase in disease activity during a full moon. Could animal behavior be modified during a full moon? A study from UK showed that animal bites doubled during a full moon, whereas another study from Australia showed no difference. Perhaps animals in Australia are berserk all the time and animal behavior is indeed affected by a full moon (1).
A blinded (where participants are not informed of the parameter being studied) study evaluating sleep patterns did show that around full moon, people slept less, took longer to fall asleep and had more fatigue after waking up (2). It is easier to associate increased disease with inadequate sleep patterns. Physical dangers in the form of sicknesses, natural catastrophes that could be linked to celestial bodies and from the evil generated by men are real dangers from which we receive protection from the Lord.
The reference to the sun and the moon causing harm could also refer to the hidden, unknown dangers that lurk in the unseen world. Elsewhere in the Bible we read of the ‘terror at night’ and ‘pestilence that stalks in darkness’. Paul talks of our struggle as ‘not being against flesh and blood but against unseen forces in the spiritual world’
While man constantly needs to be wary of the danger from animals and men around him, a greater danger exists in the spiritual realm, because the basis for all danger is the presence of evil.
When Isaiah talks of the consummation of the lordship of Jesus, he envisages a world where after the abolition of evil, the lion and the lamb will peacefully coexist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
Yet as long as evil persists, danger will too and protection is a requirement. And none can claim to protect his disciples as the Lord can. Believing it and internalizing it is crucial to enjoying a fuller life here on earth.
- DISRUPTIVE PEACE
- SHREWDNESS AND WISDOM