A Living God.

“You delivered me from strife with my people;
    you kept me as the head of the nations;
    people whom I had not known served me.
Foreigners came cringing to me;
    as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me.
Foreigners lost heart
    and came trembling out of their fortresses.

The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
    and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation,
the God who gave me vengeance
    and brought down peoples under me,
who brought me out from my enemies;
    you exalted me above those who rose against me;
    you delivered me from men of violence.

For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
    and sing praises to your name.
Great salvation he brings to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his offspring forever.” – 2 Samuel 22:44-51 ESV

David knew that his life was inextricably linked to God. Nothing he did was outside the influence and direct impact of God. David’s victories were due to God. His power and position were attributable to God. His physical strength was a gift from God. And even his sins were lovingly disciplined by God. There was no area of David’s life that escaped the notice of God, because his God was a living, active god. The Hebrew word David used is chay and it literally means “alive”. It was used to refer to flowing water and a green plant. It was an expression that referred to the evidence of life. A stagnant pond would not have been “alive”. A brown plant would have showed no evidence of life. For David, the proof of God’s “life” was in God’s constant activity and non-stop involvement in his own life. He could “see” God. He didn’t have to wonder if God existed. He was convinced of it by simply by looking at the visible evidence of His actions and activities.

It is so easy for us to attribute the actions of God to something other than God. We refer to luck or good fortune. We say things like, “I was just in the right place at the right time” or “I guess I had that coming.” We jokingly refer to karma and kismet. We talk about fate like it was a real thing. Even a Christian can tend to think the outcome of their life is either completely up to them or at the mercy of unseen forces. But David would argue that God is the invisible, unstoppable agent of influence in the life of the believer. He is alive and active, and the evidence of His life is all around us. But seeing and believing it is a matter of perspective. When difficulties come into our life, we tend to ask, “Where is God?” In other words, we assume that the presence of trouble signals the absence of God. But David would argue that God is there, even in those dark moments. He is revealing Himself to us in the grace, peace and mercy He shows us in times of difficulty. Sometimes it comes to us disguised in the form of friends who encourage and comfort us. He sends His children to act as His representative, expressing His love and giving tangible evidence of His existence.

Seeing God requires that we look for Him. God told the Israelites, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT). But we have to look for Him. We have to assume His presence, even when our first impression is that He is nowhere to be found. God is there. He is always there. And He is always active, because He is a living God. He is not a lifeless idol sitting on a shelf. He is not a dead God bound up in an old, out-of-touch book written thousands of years ago. He is the living God of the Bible, a living, active document that has the ability to change lives. The author of Hebrews describes it as “alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT). Everything about God is alive, from His Word to His Spirit who lives within each and every believer. And unlike the false gods of this world, our God is a living, breathing, active and all-powerful God. Listen to how the prophet Jeremiah describes the false gods of his day.

A tree from the forest is cut down
    and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
They decorate it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so that it cannot move.
Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
    and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
    for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
    for they cannot do evil,
    neither is it in them to do good. – Jeremiah 10:3-5 ESV

But Jeremiah goes on to describe God.

But the Lord is the true God;
    he is the living God and the everlasting King. – Jeremiah 10:10 ESV

He is the living God. He didn’t have to be made. He wasn’t result of man’s creative capabilities. In fact, God is the creator – of all things. He doesn’t have to be carried around. He doesn’t live on a shelf and isn’t restricted to heaven and dependent upon our efforts to call Him down. As followers of Christ, the living God lives within us. We are His temple. Paul reminded the Corinthians of this fact in his second letter to them.

For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – 2 Corinthians 6:16 ESV

He lives within us and the proof of that life should be evident all around us. Paul told the Galatians exactly how to spot the evidence of God’s life within us:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… – Galatians 5:22 ESV

That is all the proof we need that our God is alive. He reveals Himself in us and through us. But He also shows up all around us, in the daily affairs of life. We can see Him in the many blessings we enjoy in our lives. We can sense Him even in the difficulties that show up in life, as He comforts and corrects us, encourages and perfects us. God is always there. We just have to learn to look for Him. David had become adept at looking for and seeing God in the everyday affairs of life. He had trained himself to seek for God and to expect to find Him. David wasn’t surprised when God showed up. It was his expectation. And David’s response to the presence of God was to praise Him.

For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
    and sing praises to your name. – 2 Samuel 22:50 ESV

God’s active involvement in David’s life caused David to praise Him. David bragged about God. He gave God the credit. He literally sang His praises. And while he directed his praise at God, he voiced it within earshot of the people of God. He wanted them to hear. He also wanted the nations to hear. His God was alive. His God was powerful. His God was worthy of praise, glory and honor. He wasn’t sitting on a shelf. He was actively involved in the lives of His people and working out His sovereign will among the nations.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson