This month my Sunday ESL class has been learning Psalm 67:2: "My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock and my refuge."
The first time we read it together, there were some words they didn't understand, which led to them not understanding the truth of it, so we spent the month of October breaking it down... it was such a powerful study, even for me, that I wanted to share it with you. Sometimes words are so familiar to us that we don't take the time to chew on them and experience their richness...
Week 1: He is my mighty rock and my refuge!
This is a rock. Mighty means very strong and powerful. A mighty rock is like a mountain or cliff or boulder, that does not move or change. God is my mighty rock - he does not leave me or fail me or ever change!
Many of my students are refugees, and said that being a refugee means leaving a dangerous place to come to a safe place. So I taught that a "refuge" is a safe place. God is my safe place, and I can run to him and find help and protection and life.
Week 2: My salvation
If you are drowning, and someone throws you a line, they save you from dying. We are all drowning - dying - because of sin. We cannot save ourselves - we need someone to save us. The person or thing that saves me is called "my salvation." God is the only one who can save me from sin and death - he is my salvation! (Cool note: That week our Bible story was about Abraham and Isaac... and the sacrificial ram!)
Week 3: My honor
Honor is the good inside of you. When you do good for others, you say good things, you think good thoughts, and your intentions are good, you are honorable. But because of sin, we cannot have honor on our own... it is only through God and from God that there is anything good in us.
Week 4: ...Depend on God...
Our visual this week was this: my classroom assistant stood next to me and leaned heavily on my chair. As long as I was strong and stayed in one place, she would be able to stand. But if I moved away... she would fall. She couldn't stand without me holding her up. If we try to stand without the Lord, we will fall. We cannot save ourselves, and we cannot do any truly good thing on our own - we must ask God to do these things. That is what the verse means: "My salvation and my honor depend on God..." And why can we depend on him? Because he is mighty, he is our rock, and he is our refuge.
Our Bible lesson in week 4 was about Esau exchanging his birthright for a bowl of stew. We discussed the value and lasting implications of stew versus an inheritance, and we asked the question, "What is the most important thing to you?" Many of the students said it is God. I reminded them of the story of Abraham and Isaac and asked, "What are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of God?" And then I reminded them of Esau and Jacob and asked, "What do you value so much that you would exchange the gift of God for it?" One student said, "Nothing! I would not give up my gift from God!" When asked why, she said: "Because my life depends on God..." and others picked it up too: "He is my salvation..." "He is my honor..." "He is my mighty rock!" "He is my refuge!"
With a powerful response like that, who needs to teach or preach more? All I could say, in overwhelmed awe and wonder, was: "Amen... Amen."