“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” (1 Chronicles 16:9).
In the first week of February 2023, the public and social media users in the United States were transfixed by the weird spectacle of what was suspected to be a huge Chinese surveillance balloon traversing the skies at high altitudes over the northern United States, where several of their sensitive military bases were located. The balloon was eventually shot down on Feb 4 after it was allowed to drift past the continental land mass and over the shallow coastal waters off South Carolina, to avoid the risk of debris falling on people below.
In his article published in The Washington Post on Feb 3, Mr Arthur Holland Michel, a senior fellow at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, wrote that the huge stratospheric balloon floating a dozen miles above the northern United States was more likely dispatched precisely for the purpose of being seen and noticed, since American officials admitted that it was unlikely to have gathered any novel intelligence that China couldn’t already have accessed by other means, like satellite surveillance. “Yet, the balloon has captured something just as precious: the public attention of Americans. This makes the incident an important lesson about both the power and increasing pervasiveness of aerial surveillance technology,” said Michel.
The author went on to share that “things that watch us from the sky can be frightening. Balloons, drones, satellites and spy planes all inspire in us a primal sense of helplessness. If you know that something up there may be watching you, something perhaps so high or so small that you cannot see it for yourself, it’s easy to fear that your every move could be tracked.”
Eyes in the skies
I believe most of us would agree with the American author that “things that watch us from the sky can be frightening.” As much as we fear or dislike the thought of having high-tech “eyes in the skies” watching our every move, we are reminded by Holy Scriptures that “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). In his personal meditation and prayer, the psalmist David affectionately says to God: “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139:2,3).
Instead of being fearful that the innermost secrets of his heart will be exposed before the all-knowing and all-seeing God, David takes heart that his God is a merciful and compassionate God who pardons iniquities and transgressions when one comes before Him with a broken and contrite heart. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). David has tasted the goodness, mercy and forgiveness of God many times in his life despite his sins and shortcomings, most notably his sin of committing adultery with Bathsheba, followed by his murderous scheme against her husband Uriel.
God’s watchful eyes over us
As believers and children of God, we are reminded that the loving eyes of our heavenly Father are constantly watching over us for our good. We see this affirmed by David when he declares, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6 NLT). A Christian writer explains that “it is typical for a predatory animal like a wolf or bear to follow or pursue a sheep. But what is it that David says follows and pursues him? God’s goodness and mercy (chesed in Hebrew). Not something bad but something very good. It pursues him. For his whole life.”
The Hebrew meaning of chesed is further illustrated by Ms Annette Griffin, a contributing writer to a Christian media publication:
“The Hebrew word chesed (also spelled hesed) is so packed with meaning that no single word in the English language comes close to defining it. Used 248 times in Scripture, this little-known descriptor carries volumes of information about God’s character while providing a glimpse of His redemptive plan through His very nature. In the Old Testament, the word chesed describes the enduring, active love between God and His chosen people, Israel. Because of His chesed, God promised Israel that He would never leave nor forsake them. God kept His covenant with Israel, but not because they possessed any inherent righteousness. Nor did God hold firm to His promise because Israel consistently kept the law’s commands. The promise’s holding power was based on one thing: who God is.”
When David declares that God’s goodness and unfailing love will pursue him, he isn’t saying, “Surely only good things are going to happen to me!” He is mindful that bad things happen to good people from time to time. Instead, David is confident that God’s goodness and steadfast love will accompany him all the days of his life and thereafter to eternity (…and I will live in the house of the Lord forever). No matter how difficult and trying our present situation is, our all-knowing and all-loving God is ever-present, and He will work things out for our good. We find this assurance repeated by the apostle Paul when he says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).
What are some ways in which you can see God’s goodness and unfailing love pursuing you? Have you seen God using difficulties and setbacks in your life, or the life of another believer, to achieve His purpose? May the Holy Spirit draw us closer to our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus as we seek to experience His goodness and steadfast love in our daily walk with Him. Amen.
- Elder Elgin Chan