Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling-place he watches
all who live on earth –
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Israel was a nation belonging to God in a unique and special sense (Exodus 19:5,6; 34:8,9; Deut.4:20). But there are principles here which can be applied to any people who choose to live under the rule and reign of God.
As it is true that:
The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm for ever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations (11,12)
… it makes sense for a nation, a people, not to trust in their military might, nor in personal strength; nor to place confidence in human resources, but in God alone. (It’s been pointed out that the whole of Sannacherib’s army was no match for one God-sent angel.) The Lord sees everything occurring on planet earth. Nothing can happen behind His back. In particular we note that He sees those who are trusting in Him (His eyes are “on” them), and He will act on their behalf. Wiersbe comments that God sees what both sinners and saints are doing, and He sees what the sinners are doing to the saints!
‘It is one of our choicest privileges to be always under our Father’s eye, to be never out of sight of our best Friend.’ C.H.Spurgeon.
‘If we make God’s favour sure towards us, then we need not fear whatever is against us.’ Matthew Henry.
Alec Motyer writes that “hope” (18) is a ‘confident expectation that “unfailing love” will look after us.
There seems to be, in my mind, an important application of verses 16,17 to the life of the Christian congregation. We live in a church culture where, by and large, the mega-church is viewed as the pinnacle of success. It tends to be the leaders of large numbers of people who are applauded and placed on pedestals. Whilst we should be thankful for such churches, we should also remember that they are the exceptions. Most local churches (both here and in the U.S.A, and probably in many other places) are small, and numbers don’t tell the whole story. Our confidence should never be in the size of a group – however outwardly impressive – but in the Lord, who alone gives the growth.