Sing praises to God, our strength.
Sing to the God of Jacob. (Psalm 81:1)
As I reflect on the 81st Psalm I am struck by the phrase, “the God of Jacob”. At least 12 times the Bible refers to God as the God of Jacob. He is never referred to as the God of Moses, the God of David or the God of Nehemiah; instead he is the God of Jacob. The more I think about that title the more I smile.
As you read the account of Jacob’s life in Genesis you quickly pick up that he is, to put it kindly, a complicated character. He lies, cheats and steals, and that’s just how he treats his own family. Everywhere he goes intrigue follows. He has kids by several different women, and he clearly loves Some of his children more than others. One of his final acts is to purposefully bless the wrong grandchild, irritating even Jacob’s favorite son.
In modern terms Jacob was a hot mess, but God chooses to be known as the God of Jacob. He is the God of liars, and cheats and cowards. He is the God of the dysfunctional family. He is the God of the scared and the confused. He is the God of the parent who loses their child, he is the God of the child who cannot live up to the legacy of their parents. He is the God of the boy who doesn’t play sports and the girl who doesn’t dance. He is the God of the shy, the quiet and the timid.
He is the God of Jacob. He is the God of the man who regrets every day the decisions he made when he was young. He is the God of the woman who desperately wants to go back, but thinks she never can. He is the God of the father longing to be reunited with his son, the mother whose heart never quite heals from the loss of her child.
He is the God of Jacob. He is the God who weaves bad choices and tragic circumstances into a beautiful garment of hope. He is the God that turns what man meant as evil into good. He is the God who redeems the past. He is the God who sends his favorite son, his only son, to give his life for liars and cheaters and losers like Jacob.
Although I am inspired when I read about Moses parting an ocean, David killing a giant and Nehemiah rebuilding a wall, I am drawn to the God who chooses to identify himself with Jacob. I wish that I were more like Moses, or David or Nehemiah, but I know that I am really more like Jacob. And that is why I “sing praises to God our strength, sing to the God of Jacob.”