by Skip Moen
“O my God, in You I trust,” Psalm 25:2
Trust – Without trust, no relationship can last. It really doesn’t matter if you have legally binding documents, a contract, a negotiated peace treaty or death-bed promises. Without trust, it’s just so much air. Perhaps that’s why the Bible uses this verb, batah, in a very special way. In spite of the fact that the verb describes all kinds of relationship agreements and mutual commitments, the Bible never condones trust between any human being and any other person, place or thing except God. There is only one very notable exclusion. Do you know what it is? (hint: Proverbs 31:11)
So, what does it mean to trust? If we look at the uses of batah, we find that it often describes false security. The Bible tells us that men trust in riches, property, weapons (military strength), places and other people. All of these are misplaced. None will last. Most importantly, the Bible condemns trust in myself. Men who look to themselves for security are not only foolish, they are sinful. When this use of the word batah was translated into Greek, the translation was pepoithenai (to put confidence in), but when the word batah was translated into Greek when it expressed trust in God, then the Greek word was elpizein (to hope in). That distinction helps us understand the true nature of trust. It is not principally about the context of my ordinary life security. It is about the final outcome of my confidence.
Let’s try that again. Certainly, batah means security and protection. Its origin is found in the idea of a solid, firm foundation. It is a bedrock word. So, it covers the thoughts of well-being, provision and protection. But it is not limited to my experience of the good life. Anyone who has spent any time walking with God knows that life is more than sheltered days. I need a confidence that stretches past the hurt and suffering and confusion and chaos of real living. That’s why batah is never translated into the Greek word pisteuo (to believe). Trust is not about belief. It is about hope (elpizo)! I cannot put my hope in things of this world, no matter how solid they may seem, because everything in this world is under the influence of the evil one, and anything in this world can be co-opted for his destructive purposes. If you have lived long enough, you know this to be true.
But God is completely different. He is utterly reliable, completely faithful and totally trustworthy. He is my only real hope. When I say that I trust in God, I do not mean that I expect Him to protect and provide and shelter and bless me in ways that let me escape life’s trauma and turmoil. That just doesn’t happen (for good reasons). When I say that I trust God, I mean that I place my final hope in Him, that I look forward to a time when justice will prevail, when righteousness will be fulfilled and when His will is accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. The solid Rock of the Lord is a perspective that looks beyond this world. If it is manifested here and now, oh how wonderful and gracious is His act toward me. But if not, my trust is not destroyed. God is Who He says He is. That is my hope. That is why I put all my confidence in Him.
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