I wonder why the twice repeated refrain in verses 7 and 11 says,
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Why the “God of Jacob”? It is interesting that this name of God is used at least nine times in the Psalms and yet, it never refers to the “God of Isaac” (Jacob’s father) and only once to the “God of Abraham” (Jacob’s grandfather). That is found in Psalm 47:9.
Of course, in many other places, both in the Old and New Testaments, it includes all 3 names. For example, in the words of Jesus, quoting the very words of God, who says of himself:
‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?” (Matthew 22:32)
It is also interesting that God does not repeatedly refer to himself after some of the really great heroes of the Bible, For example, as “the God of Daniel”, or the “God of Elijah” or even the “God of Moses”. Now these guys were examples to follow. Great role models, as we say!
Instead he calls himself the “God of Jacob”! Maybe you are wondering why I am so surprised. Well then, it may be because you haven’t read Genesis 25-50 lately where the rather turbulent life of Jacob is revealed. Let me give a quick summary of his life.
He was one of twins born to Isaac and Rebecca and was born second, grasping his brother Esau’s heel. He was therefore given the name Jacob, meaning “heel catcher”, which can also mean “trickster” or “supplanter”. It turns out that this name was self-fulfilling and he ended up in some very tricky circumstances due to deceiving both his brother and his father. As a result, he had to flee for his life and live in Mesopotamia for 14 years where he entered into further “interesting” relationships. Fortunately, by the grace of God’s, he did eventually make peace with his brother and with God himself.
It all took time, but Jacob finally got desperate and serious about life and God, and that’s when God changed him.
So, Jacob’s life was full of crises and drama. Deceit, lies, feuds, rebellion, heartache and friction amongst his family members were all the norm. As Wilcock suggests, “Condense it into 147 half-hour episodes, and you have the mother of all soap operas!” He continues, “Not that Jacob’s descendants were proud of the shabbiness of his story. But they were proud of the God who had taken hold of such a man, and such a family, brought them under control, and used their turbulence and harnessed their energies for his own purposes…and the God who made something good out of it, is with us also.” (# 5)
As Dr H J Sala says:
“I’m glad that God chose to be identified as “the God of Jacob,” something that gives me hope, because if God could change Jacob’s life, he can change yours and mine as well. It was the physical touch of the Almighty that changed Jacob’s life, and when God changed his heart, He gave him a new name, Israel, the name borne by the nation today.
That phrase, “The God of Jacob,” is a window of hope, the assurance that your past isn’t important when you cry out in desperation and God touches your life. It’s still true.”
I always remember a conversation with my brother, who, although having been a pretty tough and hard character due to a troubled upbringing, had become a follower of Jesus. He had a friend who he was hoping would also believe in Jesus, but was a bit pessimistic of that ever happening, for various reasons. One day we were talking about this and he said, “I think it is impossible for this guy to ever believe in Jesus”! I simply answered him, “You did!”
No one is too difficult for God to change. Not even Jacob! And if God is proud to associate himself with Jacob, then there is hope for us and others you may know and are praying for.
Thank you, God, that you took Jacob, the “trickster”, and turned his life around. Made him into a man of God. Thank you that you can do the same for me and my family and friends. Amen.