Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus Is The Sweetest Name I Know"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 139:5 – You hem me in — behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. (NIV)
The fence was there for a purpose — not just for looks.
The first house that I lived in on my own was situated on two acres of land just outside of town. Gardening and farming had always been in my blood — I suppose because both of my grandfathers had farmed — so I decided to set up a small farm. I bought twenty chickens, two goats, and two hogs.
Before buying any of my animals, I erected two fences. For the chickens, I built a six-foot-high fence, complete with one-by-fours around the bottom. For the hogs, I put up hog wire and fastened it to the ground with stakes. Though I'd had none of these animals before, I knew their tendencies. My maternal grandfather raised hogs, and I watched as they continuously tried to root under the fence. Since goats go over, I topped the fence with barbed wire. I'd watched my maternal grandmother raise chickens, so I knew that they love to fly over a fence and roost up high.
I didn't hem in my animals because I wanted to make their lives miserable. Just the opposite. I knew that if they got out, they might be killed by other animals, run over on the highway, or tempted to go into the neighbour's yard and root up everything. The fence protected them.
The psalmist also knew that God hemmed him in for a reason. He was hemmed in by God's commands and principles, as well as His daily interaction in his life. He enjoyed being hemmed in.
As His child, God hems me in also. Instead of looking at His commands and principles as cruel and cumbersome — things given to make my life miserable — I see them for my good. Like my hogs and goats, I tend to root under God's commands and jump over His principles. Things on the other side look more appealing.
But God knows what's best. That's why He gave guiding ideologies. And that's why He gently brings me back inside the fence with His discipline when I get out. He loves me and wants me to experience the best in life — which I won't if I go over or under what He's put there to hem me in.
Let's learn to live within the hemming boundaries of what God has erected. He provides the fences for our good, not our detriment.
Prayer: Father, thank You for hemming us in so that we won't wander on paths that we'd be better off leaving alone. Amen.