Question: how does fallen man walk before a holy God in a corrupt world? This may be God’s greatest miracle. Yet, it was what God intended for man all along. The failure of Adam and Eve was repeated from generation to generation in different ways until Enoch came along. The Bible tells us that, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). God honored Enoch’s walk by taking him home early. The next time we see this quality of relationship with God is with Abram in Genesis 17.
In this chapter, God wishes to establish a covenant relationship with Abram when He says, “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless [tamiym – linked to truth, virtue, uprightness]. ‘I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly’” (verse 1-2). This covenant was between God and Abram and was based on Abram believing God’s promises. At the same time, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning father of many nations. God was telling Abraham that walking before God was a by-product of a committed covenant relationship to Him.
One of the most interesting people in the Bible is King David. He was a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22), so he was favored by God, but he was also filled with many shortcomings, just like you and me. This is why his life and writings are so meaningful to believers. In spite of all of his failures, he learned to walk before his God. David was a man of action, a man of experience and his psalms are the honest communications of his struggles to God. Learning how to walk before God is not an academic pursuit, but rather a process of trying on all the elements of our salvation “with fear and trembling.”
“You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Your vows are binding upon me, O God; I will render thank offerings to You. For You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living” (Psalm 56:8-13).
David is willing to admit that his life is filled with wanderings (traveling about with no home and no destination), and this has caused many tears that God has captured in a bottle and recorded in His Book of Remembrance. In verse 9, he comes to the conclusion that God is for him. Paul says it this way in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If [since] God is for us, who is against us?” It is this confidence in God’s attitude toward His people that becomes foundational for man to walk before his God. David sees that God is keeping track of his own tears created by times when he is not on track with God. In Psalm 116:7-9, “Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” The psalmist understood that nothing could separate him from God’s love, not even his own failures (see Romans 8:37-39).
The Light of the Living
In Psalm 56:13 above, David was learning how to walk before God “in the light of the living.” This phrase speaks to the fact that so long as the light of God is with us, we learn to walk in that light. In John 12:35-37, “So Jesus said to them, ‘For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.’” Jesus was speaking about His Light, that in Him was found the knowledge and the ability to walk with Him in this world, in the land of the living. He wants His followers to be sons of His Light. To the nation of Israel in the last days, Isaiah says, “Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5).
In Isaiah 38, Hezekiah became deathly ill and God spoke to him through Isaiah to get his house in order. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight.” God’s answer was to give him an additional fifteen years to live; He said to Hezekiah, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears”. He understood that walking before the Lord meant to walk in truth and with the whole heart, holding nothing back. It is crying to God in Psalm 142:5, “You are my refuge, My portion [heleq – a piece of territory] in the land of the living.” When the Lord is my portion, then I am only interested in that which proceeds from Him.
In Psalm 119:57, “The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.” The ultimate measure of walking before God is a commitment to keep His words in a covenant relationship with Him.