You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. Ps. 66:12
You let men ride over our heads
What an image! To feel like you are spread out flat on a road with men trampling you. “Ride” makes me think of horses–the sound, the smell, the pain of their heaviness flattening your soul. That’s not mild suffering.
The psalmist probably refers to the punishment Israel received because of their sin–the exile. They weren’t just driven out of their homes, or even physically tortured, killed–although they were–they were banished from the land, the temple, the Torah. All those things they connected with God’s blessing, his promise to be with them. No wonder they felt beaten down, rejected, destroyed.
We went through fire and through water
Suffering through fire calls to mind the intensity of God’s judgment. Remember when fire consumed Sodom? And water also points us to wrath–that flood that devastated every living thing. Israel endured God’s judgment. They had sinned. They had been warned. “If you don’t obey, you will lose the land. You will suffer,” he had promised. And he kept his word.
I’ve had bleak times in my life when pitch-charcoal darkness encircled and hope seemed far out of reach. I felt weighted down, judged, trapped by my self-righteous, sinful tendencies.
Yet hope wasn’t gone, because of Jesus.
When he stumbled on the road to his sacrifice–that dusty way toward the mountain of his death–the majestic Son of God became one with dusty hot desert dirt.
And then, nailed to rough timber, he endured the full wrath of God. Think of the fire raining down on Sodom, the raging flood that devastated all living things, pouring down on Christ’s suffering body.
He didn’t deserve those torrents of judgment. I did. He freed me.
You have brought us out to a place of abundance.
Eventually the Israelites returned to the land, yet even then, they continued to sin–to need a savior.
And God sent one, so well described in this verse (and so many others), as a suffering savior. But his death on the cross wasn’t the end.
He broke the chains of God’s wrath by rising from the dead. How this truth heals my wounds, calms my fears, centers my wandering heart–hoists me out of my darkness.
We have a place of abundance, friends. No matter what happens, we are safe in the garden of God’s love. We are his beloved and we are overwhelmingly blessed.
Remember friends, he loves you like there’s no tomorrow.