“In times past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led out and brought in Israel; and the Lord your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and you shall be prince over My people Israel,’” (11:2 emphasis added).
As I read this account, chronicling the beginning of David’s reign over Israel, it was as though the words “even when” jumped off the page. Even when Saul was king; even when Saul relentlessly pursued David; even when David was running and hiding for his life; even when the opposition was relentless… David was the one who led.
Why? Because the Lord had spoken, and When He speaks, it is in fact, Established… Even When.
Consider His Established Word… Even When
- enacted, appointed, or ordained for permanence, as a law
- made firm or stable
- introduced and caused to grow and multiply
- brought into existence
- put on a firm basis
- put into a favorable position
- put beyond doubt
- shown to be valid or true; proven
- caused to be accepted or recognized
- founded, instituted, built, or brought into being, as a church
1. His Word is Established (enacted, appointed, ordained for permanence, as a law)… Even When
…everything feels as though it’s being removed.
“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the Lord who has compassion on you, (Isaiah 54:10).
The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever, (Isaiah 40:7-8).
2. His Word is Established (made firm or stable)… Even When
…everything changes and quakes.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride, (Psalm 46:1-3).
3. His Word is Established (introduced and caused to grow and multiply)… Even When
…it is yet to be seen.
Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
2 And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3 And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed,” (Genesis 12:1-3).
4. His Word is Established (brought into existence)… Even When
…all is empty and dark.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light, (Genesis 1:1-3).
5. His Word is Established (put on a firm basis)… Even When
…sinking under the weight of affliction.
Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
91 Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction, (Psalm 119:89-92).
6. His Word is Established (put into a favorable position)… Even When
…the heart is broken and bound in sorrow.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:1-2).
7. His Word is Established (put beyond doubt)… Even When
…the storm is raging.
But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” (Matthew 14:30-33).
8. His Word is Established (shown to be valid or true; proven)… Even When
…there is oppression, trouble and distress.
Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight, (Psalm 119:141-143).
9. His Word is Established (caused to be accepted or recognized)… Even When
…rejection and persecution loom.
As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, 2 being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening… 13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus, (Acts 4:1-3, 13).
10. His Word is Established (founded, instituted, built, brought into being, as a church)… Even When
…all hell breaks loose.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it,(Matthew 16:15-18).
How do we respond to His Established Word… Even When?
Simply put, we must believe His Word is Established… Even When.
I am instantly reminded of one of my favorite stories from the gospels; the story of Lazarus, and his two sisters, Mary and Martha.
Jesus gets word that Lazarus has died, and rather than rushing to their aid, He waits two more days before making His way to the ones He loved.
So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was, (John 11:3-6).
Jesus had assured His disciples that this time, in the life and in the sickness of Lazarus, was not going to end in death, but rather would culminate with God receiving glory. “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it,” (John 11:4).
But later, when Jesus plainly tells His disciples that Lazarus had in fact died, He then explains the reason for His delay. So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him,” (John 11:14-15).
And the delay made Jesus glad; for in this delay, in this Even When, His disciples were getting ready to see His Established Word come to life!
When Martha, and later Mary, finally came face to face with their Lord, they both immediately expressed their faith in what could have happened, if only He’d come on time.
Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died… 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” (John 11:21, 32).
But now, Lazarus is dead, and it was too late; all hope was lost.
And in this exchange with Martha, in the midst of this horrific “Even When,” Jesus challenges her faith in His Established Word.
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:23-26).
And every time we are faced with those dreaded “Even When” times, He essentially asks us the same thing.
Do we believe, Even When all hope seems to have died, that He can raise our hope again to new life by His Established Word?
Do we believe, even when it appears as though it is too late, that nothing is beyond the power of His Established Word?
Will we believe… Even When everything feels as though it’s being removed; When everything changes and quakes; When it is yet to be seen; When all is empty and dark; When we are sinking under the weight of affliction; When our heart is broken and bound by sorrow; When the storm is raging; When there is oppression, trouble and distress; When rejection and persecution loom; and Even When all hell breaks loose… will we believe He is faithful to the promises of His Established Word?
And like the desperate father who sought help from Jesus for his demon-possessed son, we too may cry out in our weakness and need for Him to strengthen our faith in His Established Word.
“But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief,” (Mark 9:22-24).
And like the apostles, we can ask Him to increase our faith, not in our own ability to have faith, but in the power and faithfulness of His Established Word.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you, (Luke 17:5-6).
Today, let us spend time meditating on the truths presented in the preceding verses, and let us ask the Lord to apply His Truth to take root in our hearts, that He will grow us in our assurance, hope and conviction in His Established Word… Even When.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, (Hebrews 11:1).