“Where reason cannot wade there faith may swim.” –Thomas Watson

The psalmist leads the people in their invocation of a blessing on the king. The director of music and the people say:

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
    and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
May he grant you your heart’s desire
    and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
    and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions! (Psalm 20:1-5, ESV)

Why do they mention the name of Jacob? Why is his name linked with distress and the protection of God?

The author of Hebrews in the famous “Heroes of the Faith” chapter refers to the patriarch Jacob, “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.” (Hebrews 11:21) Jacob’s life had been filled with schemes and trickery. Even his name figuratively means “he deceives.” He had tricked his brother out of his birthright, his father out of his blessing, and his father-in-law out of his flocks. (Genesis 25-30) But by the end of his life, he had become a man of faith and had turned from scheming to dreaming and from trickery to trusting. When and how did this change occur?

A clue to the change is given by the author of Hebrews. Jacob was now worshipping God while leaning on a staff. Why did he need a staff? The night before Jacob was to meet his brother Esau he was in great turmoil and distress. He did not know what his brother would do. Jacob divided his group into two camps hoping to spare one of them from Esau’s attack. Then, alone in the darkness of the night and the deeper darkness of his fear, an angel came to him and they wrestled. (Gen. 32) The prophet Hosea recounted: “He [Jacob] strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with us— the Lord, the God of hosts…” (Hosea 12:4-5a) It was during this encounter with God that Jacob received his new name—Israel. Jacob also received a lasting wound, the angel had put his hip out of joint while they were wrestling. From that day forward Jacob would lean on his staff and on the Lord a little more!

What are you leaning on today? Are you limping with the Lord or running with the world? Spend a moment wrestling with God and he will tell you. Have a blessed week and we will see many of you on Sunday.

Privileged to serve,

Pastor Dale