Between his shoulders
I love it when I discover some new pearl of wisdom in something I am reading – some truth that really resonates with me or makes me sit up and take notice. I keep a journal where I jot down such things – and what a feast it is when I look back after several months and read them all in one go! As I glance now through some recent entries, I notice quotes from many different sources – novels I am reading; the writings of fascinating authors such as Frederick Buechner, Annie Dillard, Thomas Merton; occasional lines of poetry from Mary Oliver and T S Eliot; snippets about writing from ‘The Soul Tells A Story’ by Vinita Hampton Wright and ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott; and of course many, many verses of Scripture that have impacted me in some way.
One would think that after all these years, I would have found and noted every verse of the Bible that particularly touches or encourages me. Yet somehow God never ceases to surprise me with little gems that literally seem to jump out at me from the pages of my Bible, even though I know I have read these particular sections before.
One such verse in that category comes from Deuteronomy 33, where Moses is blessing the Israelite tribes before his impending death. In verse 12, he says the following to the tribe of Benjamin:
Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.
Now that conjures up some wonderful imagery in my mind. How about you? It seems, from what I could find out, that this verse might be referring to the way shepherds used to carry a favourite or perhaps injured lamb slung across their shoulders – which is certainly apt enough. But the picture that came to my mind is of a tall, broad, brave defender using his body to shield someone a lot smaller and weaker than he is from the advancing enemy. The intended victim is clinging on tightly, arms around his (or her) rescuer’s waist, head turned to the side and pressed firmly into the spot between the rescuer’s shoulder blades. No one can touch him (or her) while this strong, courageous defender remains in place – he acts as a human shield who will do anything to protect the one holding on so firmly to him.
And then another favourite verse of mine comes to mind, this time from Psalm 32:7:
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I feel very comforted and secure in my ‘hiding place’ who is the Lord, protected and at rest ‘between his shoulders’. I might be in the middle of a battle, but I can ‘rest secure’ as I lean against him. After all, I know that he has my enemy’s measure, that he is much more powerful than anyone or anything that might come against me, and that because I am his ‘beloved’, he will never to grow tired of being my shield and protector, until he manages to bring me home safe at last.
May you too know that place of deep security, as you ‘rest between his shoulders’.