Along with some lovely gals, I am currently attending the Elyse Fitzpatrick conference, "Women Discipling Women: Am I my Sister's Keeper?". Tonight was the first session. Elyse is a very gifted and wise teacher. (Check out her books here: http://elysefitzpatrick.com/Elyse_s_Books.html)
Tonight, Elyse led us in examining the Biblical concept of being a "keeper". "Shamar" is a Hebrew word that means keeping, guarding, hedging in, protecting, caring for, attending to, preserving, or watching over. This concept was used by Cain in Genesis 4 when God confronted Cain for killing his brother Abel. In that account, Cain defiantly answered God, "Am I my brother's keeper"? While Cain's use of the word "keeper" was mocking and sarcastic, Elyse pointed out to us tonight that God Himself is called our keeper (the concept of shamar) in several places throughout Scripture:
1 Samuel 2:9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.
Job 10:12 " You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit."
Psalm 25:20 "Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you"
Psalm 145:20 "The Lord preserves all who love him,but all the wicked he will destroy."
Psalm 146:9 "The Lord watches over the sojourners;he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin."
Psalm 121 "I lift up my eyes to the hills.From where does my help come?2 My help comes from the Lord,who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.4 Behold, he who keeps Israelwill neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.6 The sun shall not strike you by day,nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming infrom this time forth and forevermore."
John 17 "When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth."
How refreshing, inspiring, and humbling to look at these Scriptures that speak about God's tremendous love, fierce protection, and unwaivering care for us! After having rooted us in this foundational teaching, Elyse is transitioning us into what that means in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we are sister's keeper? I love this quote she mentioned tonight from Matthew Henry's commentary on Genesis 4:
"A charitable concern for our brethren, as their keepers, is a great duty, which is strictly required of us, but is generally neglected by us. Those who are unconcerned in the affairs of their brethren, and take no care, when they have opportunity, to prevent their hurt in their bodies, goods, or good name, especially in their souls, do, in effect, speak Cain's language."
Wow, what a rich and profound quote with extremely weighty implications! I'm praising God for saints like Matthew Henry and Elyse Fitzpatrick, whom God has gifted and through whom He is edifying His Body. I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow's teaching.