Athlete, See the Markers

*This devotional was written by the AIA staff team at the University of Virginia

Read Genesis 33 & Psalm 4

The psalmist writes about relief from distress, the light of God's face, peace to lie down and sleep, and the Lord as the sole provider of safety. We see Jacob/Israel experience all of these realities as he returns to the promised land under God's protection. He sets up an altar of worship at the end of Genesis 33, naming it after "the mighty God of Israel" and offering "the sacrifices of the righteous" (Psalm 4:5).

The psalmist says that many are asking the question, "Who will bring us prosperity?" Jacob learned the answer to this question the hard way.  Now that he has left behind his delusions and false gods (4:2), Jacob is among those who call on the Lord, receive mercy from the Lord (4:1), and are set apart for service to the Lord (4:3).

Some may wonder how Esau is fairing so well after he forfeited his blessing in Genesis 27.  God has provided for Esau.  He does not hate Esau personally, but Esau is outside of God's covenant blessing to Abraham.  There is no evidence that Esau repented of his covenant-breaking ways, though his anger against Jacob was assuaged over 20 years.  Esau's descendants do experience what Isaac foretold in Genesis 27, including their overthrow of Israel's power over them - 2 Kings 8:20-22.

Questions for Reflection & Prayer

1. Jacob will always look back on his safe return to Canaan as a marker of God's faithfulness to him. What are some markers of God's faithfulness to you?  Take time to respond in worship to God's past and present faithfulness.

2. Take time to reflect on Psalm 4.  Consider 4:7, "Fill me with joy when their grain and new wine abound."  The psalmist is asking for joy in God even when he sees others experiencing greater earthly blessings.

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