Together in Christ: 'The Lord Is Close!' — Psalm 34:17-18

Saturday, March 23, 2024

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

— Psalm 34:17-18 NLT

Key Thought

Jesus coming to earth as Immanuel, God with us, [1] should not have been a surprise. God always chose to be close to His people, as He still does. He saw their struggles and decided to hear their cries for help and come down to help them repeatedly. [2] The Lord especially promised His presence to His faithful people who were brokenhearted and whose spirits were crushed. One of my favorite powerful statements of Isaiah promises God's presence to such people:

The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this:

"I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts." [3]

By the time Jesus entered the world through the womb of Mary, these brokenhearted righteous people were identified as the "pious poor." When we read the first two chapters in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, we meet all sorts of people who are part of the pious poor, looking to God for their deliverance. [4] Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, Simeon, and Anna all come from these people looking for God's divine presence and intervention. God anchored the Messiah's coming in people who were good, virtuous, just, righteous, caring, and praying for God's intervention in their broken world.

But how does all of this impact my relationships? Why is this important in a devotional on relationships?

First, the Spirit reminds us that God does not, and will never, forget His people. [5] If our hearts break when we sin or when we face some devastation, they are also available to God for His restoring and renewing presence. Second, the people who surrounded Jesus at His birth supported each other. They rejoiced in each other's joys and shared each other's burdens. [6] They chose the path of kindness and protection over judgment and ridicule. [7] Their language with each other was a mixture of comfort, protection, joy, and Scripture.

These people were as devoted to one another as they were committed to God. Our relationship with God and our relationships with each other are inseparable. We can't love God and be devoted to Him, Whom we haven't seen, and not love one another whom we have! [8] God's people will choose to honor Him by loving each other. As they do, they find that the Lord's presence is even more real, His nearness is more known, and His power is more experienced. God promises His presence and power where His holy people love each other! [9]

[1] Matthew 1:23.
[2] Exodus 3:7-8, 9-10; Numbers 10:9; Judges 3:9; 1 Samuel 12:10-11; Nehemiah 9:27-28.
[3] Isaiah 57:15.
[4] See our Related Scripture Readings below.
[5] Hebrews 13:5-6; Romans 8:32-39.
[6] Romans 12:15-16.
[7] In our Related Scripture Readings below, notice how Elizabeth supports Mary, Joseph wants to handle Mary's "situation" quietly, Elizabeth's friends rejoice at her pregnancy, Zechariah and Anna announce Jesus with tender emotion.
[8] 1 John 4:7-12, 20-21.
[9] John 14:15-23; Philippians 4:5; 1 John 4:16.

Today's Prayer

Dear God, the Almighty, Who chose to be Immanuel in Jesus, thank You! We are humbled and touched by Your kindness and grace. You heard and saw the Israelites and came down to rescue them through Moses. You heard our cries, saw our messes, and came down to help us in Jesus. So, dear Father, we come to You with hearts broken, having been worn down by the world. We confess our sins to You. We ask You to awaken us to Your nearness in us through the Holy Spirit. As You comfort, console, and revive us, we pledge to comfort, console, and revive those around us. As we love You, Father, we ask that You use us to be Your agents of blessing, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 1:18-23, 2:1-23
  • Luke 1:1-80, 2:1-40

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Illustration

Illustration of Psalm 34:17-18 NLT — The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.