• Jonathan Parnell

Don’t Read It Wrong (2 Chronicles 16:9)

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him... 2 Chronicles 16:9

2 Chronicles 16:9 says something very important about God. He is a God who lacks nothing, and therefore gives everything. He is the source of help for all our needs. And because this is the case, because he is the giver and there is nothing we have which has not been received (1 Corinthians 4:7), he gets all the glory (1 Peter 4:10–11).


But we can read this wrongly. So easily in texts such as this one, we can detach God’s action from his actual posture. We know from this text that God gives—that his eyes “run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” We know that because the text says it. But what expression do we picture on God’s face in this work? What type of attitude do we project upon him in all his supporting and giving?


The Sketch We Bring


Even though we read about him giving, we can imagine harsh things about him, as if he gives with a frown. Or as if he opens his hands reluctantly.


The issue is how we connect these details about what God does along to our big picture understanding of who he is. We all have a big picture understanding, you know. We all bring a sketch of how we perceive God to every passage of Scripture we read. And unless we check that sketch and consistently subject it to the biblical text, it can blur the wonders before our very eyes.


Keep It Sharp


Something that helps keep the big picture sharp is to compare multiple descriptions of God from throughout the Bible. For example, how does the description of God in 2 Chronicles 16:9 fit with the description of God, say, in Psalm 94:19: "When I thought, 'My foot slips,' your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of me heart are many, your comforts cheer my soul." Like the Lord giving strong support, this passage also speaks about God’s action for his people. And the picture here is amazing. When the psalmist was about to slip, the Lord held him up. This is a picture. Imagine walking on ice. Just when you get unsure and your feet start to slide opposite directions, your dad reaches out and grabs you with his hand. He holds you up. All your weight that would have crashed into the frozen floor instantly shifts onto the hand that has securely taken hold of you. He’s got you. Isn’t that great?


The psalmist continues: when his cares are many, he says the Lord is his delight. “Cares are many” means stress and anxiety. When things get out of hand and life feels overwhelming, God is there. He is full of comfort—of consolations—that cheer our souls. God is a God who is there. Who is so involved in our details that he reaches his hand out when we’re about to slip. He’s so on top of our schedules that he has comfort when we feel empty.


Glory Isn’t Shared


This is the one whose eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. He isn’t stingy in his grace. He is abundant in mercy, in love, in doing the highest good to his people through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. And this means all boasting is excluded (1 Corinthians 1:30–31; Ephesians 2:8–9). We are weak. We are desperate. God is mighty. God is all. And we better get this, for he says, "For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another" (Isaiah 48:11).


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