Psalm 78:61 “He sent the ark of his might into captivity, his splendor into the hands of the enemy” (NIV).
Observation: Psalm 78 begins with parables designed to recount the relational history of God and the Israelites. He blessed and established the nation even as Israel rejected and abandoned His precepts. Through seemingly endless cycles of hope and tragedy we read how His chosen ones disdained God to embrace fallenness instead. Finally, in the face of their continuing pursuit of false gods, He abandoned them to their enemies. He angrily rejected Israel (v. 59) and withdrew His presence from the tabernacle, sending the ark into captivity and His splendor into the hands of the enemy.
Application: Is it possible to imagine how utterly alone Israel found herself? This loving God who had birthed the nation, turned His back. This protector of unimaginable might who had tenderly betrothed Israel to Himself, willingly chose captivity. He who had delivered Israel from Pharaoh’s army and brought water gushing from rocks to slake their thirst, had finally drunk his own fill of their rebellion. The God who had committed Himself to bridal partnership, turned angrily away. But His abandonment was more profound than to merely leave; He actively, purposefully sent His presence into captivity of Israel’s sworn enemies. The full splendor of Israel’s magnificent bridegroom recognized bridal adultery for what it was, and went to reside among those sworn to her destruction.
This is tough love in its fullness. There is no suggestion that God’s leaving was in petulance; the profound truth is that in leaving His beloved to her own devices, He was motivated by His deep passion for her. His enraged jealousy would no longer tolerate her half-heartedness, so it was an anguished lover who withdrew to a place of desolation, that His beloved might recognize the trash heap of her existence without Him. His withdrawal to a place utterly beyond her reach was an act of mercy, graciously enabling Israel to experience the full consequences of her choices.
Have I not been like she was? Without my own night places would I hold any hope of knowing the fullness of His splendor? Without utter abandonment to my own foolish pursuits, could I ever really appreciate the delight of His drawing me into intimacy with Him?
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for glimpses of Your unending love for me. In Your pursuit of wholehearted love from me You have been willing to remain in the shadows till I could no longer stand the silence. You have withdrawn until my loneliness had become like the dry ground of a parched eternity. This, too, has been part of Your strategy for drawing me into Your full embrace. Thank You, Lord.