How does God respect us?

In a sermon on Psalm 139, which you can and should listen to here, Toby Sumpter made the point that David probably doesn’t enjoy the fact that God knows him so intimately. Obviously, that knowledge is often a source of comfort, but there are times when God’s knowledge is a source of deep discomfort. What would Job have said if he’d been able to hear God bragging on him to Satan? “Hey, God, please stop talking about me to him. Don’t you know who that guy is? That’s Satan. This can’t end well.”

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You. (Psalm 139:7-10)

In verses 7-10, David muses on how he can get away from God. The depths and the heights are out. Not even inside his mother’s womb is David free from God’s attention (vv. 13-16).

We hear a lot about how much God loves us. Psalm 139 and the story of Job made me wonder if God also respects us. Respect is different from love, although the two are complimentary. Love implies self-sacrifice, attention, giving and receiving. Respect is more about confidence in someone’s ability to see something through. Respect also hints at a willingness to learn something from someone. If my father respects me, he will give me advice and trust me to make the right choice. If I respect my father, I will listen to his wisdom.

David doesn’t want God’s attention because God has more confidence in him than he does. God knows that David is able to see things through and He respects David enough to take him through these trials without holding his hand.

For me (and for most men, probably) respect is very important. In some ways, respect is how I value myself. If my boss at work gives me free reign with a project, I feel respected and honored that he trusts me. When my father asks my opinion on something, I value his respect highly. Men can feel frustrated when they think that their boss doesn’t place any stock in their efforts, their wife doesn’t trust them enough to let them make decisions, the elders don’t trust them enough to let them raise their children without constant pastoral intervention. Sometimes this hunger for respect destroys a man’s verbal and physical discipline and he refuses to listen to council from anyone. After all, they don’t respect him.

The world is full of sinners and sometimes your wife, your boss, your kids, your neighbors, your coach, your whoever won’t give you the respect you feel you deserve. (Even if you actually do deserve it.) But if you feel like God is laying the troubles on a little thick today, or this week, or this year, remember that God does that because He respects you. Either He respects you enough to knock you around when you’re being a pig or He’s watching you with a huge grin on His face and arm around Job, saying, “Watch this guy. Anything I throw at him, he can take it.” Either way, the correct response is “Bring it on.”