TO CHEW ON: "Show me a sign for good
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed.
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me." Psalm 86:17
Who of us hasn't at one time or another wished or asked for a sign from God? I think there is an instinctive desire in people to have proof that God sees us, is with us, approves or doesn't approve of something we have done or are planning to do.
Signs in the Bible come in various shapes and sizes.
- God initiated many: the rainbow (Genesis 9:12); circumcision (Genesis 17:11); Passover blood (Exodus 12:13).
- Some were to be a commemoration of God's presence among the Israelites, like their celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 13:9) and the killing of an animal to redeem the firstborn son (Exodus 13:16). David's request for a sign in Psalm 86 falls in that category. He wanted a sign to show unbelievers that God was real and was his defender.
- Sometimes people asked for a sign from God to give them confidence. When Gideon put out his fleece, it was to be sure God was indeed supporting his leadership of Israel (Judges 6:36-40).
- At other times God sent signs to prove that what He said (usually through a prophet) was actually going to happen. The coming to pass of the sign would prove to the weak-faithed that God was in the circumstance. Samuel's prediction to Saul in 1 Samuel 10:1-7 was such an instance.
- In the New Testament Jesus predicted that signs would break out spontaneously in the wake of the ministry of true believers (Mark 16:17-20).
- But lest we are tempted to play fast and loose with requests for signs, Jesus also warned against asking for them. In Mark 8, just after the account of Jesus feeding the 5000, Mark records the request of the Pharisees for a sign. The juxtaposition of the two speaks to me of the Pharisees' unwillingness to believe the signs that were right in front of their faces. Jesus responded to their request with deep sigh in His spirit (signifying what — vexation, puzzlement, 'Can you believe it'?) and refused to give them a further sign.
Similarly after His resurrection, some, like Thomas, refused to believe unless they saw Jesus for themselves. Jesus showed Himself to Thomas and then said, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" - John 20:29.
Perhaps if we viewed all of life with our eyes and ears of faith open, we would see more signs of God's presence, approval, and leading than we ever realized were around us. And when we feel the need of an extraordinary sign, God, who knows our hearts, will know how to deal with such requests.
PRAYER: Dear God, please open my eyes to signs of Your presence and approval or disapproval of my activities and plans. Please grow in me a faith that is content to live without extraordinary signs. Amen.
[Sign (owth): A sign, token, visible illustration, portent, ensign, signpost; a miracle, a mighty deed or event. This noun occurs 78 times in the OT. The rainbow, circumcision, and the blood of the Passover lamb are visible illustrations of something that cannot be seen, that is, an agreement between God and His people. God struck Egypt ten times; these miraculous events are called "signs" - Exodus 10:2. In the Psalm 86:17 reference David prays for a miracle, a token, or some sort of signboard, which his enemies can read loud and clear. - Word Wealth - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 752.]