As I was reading through my daily Bible chapter (reading through the Psalms right now), I was in Psalm 54 and I came across this interesting statement from David concerning Saul and his army, “They had not set God before them”.
“For strangers have risen against me And violent men have sought my life; They have not set God before them.” [Psalm 54:3 NASB]
So that got me thinking (looks like I am going to be showing my age again…LOL)…about hood ornaments, of all things. When I was growing up, knowing which cars were which was required knowledge for getting your “man card”. If you couldn’t tell a Buick from a Chevy or a Chrysler, that would raise some eyebrows, to say the least. And back then, the body styles changed quite a bit almost every year, from the light configurations, to the chrome accents, to the look of the grille and the rear fender fins….so you had to stay up on it all, for sure, or you could be “left in the dust” pretty quickly.
And if you were growing up after World War II, hood ornaments became quite an important part of what made certain cars distinctive and instantly recognizable. GM vehicles like Buick, Chevy, Pontiac and Cadillacs were all well known for their unique hood ornament designs, but they were not alone. Mercury, Lincoln, Chrysler and DeSoto (yes, I am old enough to remember them) got with the program, too, as did many others.
Here is a classic one from a 1953 Pontiac….pretty sweet, indeed:
And all of this, of course, made me wonder if there was a spiritual tie-in. Why did David use those specific words, when writing about Saul’s army and what stuck out to him, or in this case, what failed to stick out?
As it turned out, there was a connection (you knew I would find one, right?). In David’s time, when armies would align themselves for battle, they would usually place a statue of their idol or god, or some identifying emblem like a king’s insignia out in front of them so that other armies could quickly identify them. You certainly did not want to start a war with the wrong tribe or nation, accidentally. That could end very badly. So, yes, they would make themselves known, up front, by setting a statue or a symbol of some kind “before them”and that would tell others who they were.
Nowadays folks are instantly defined by all sorts of things….their shoes, the team logo on their hat or hoodie, the label on their jeans or even what cell phone they carry. Those would be the “hood ornaments” of the 21st century. Heck, cars don’t even have hood ornaments any more. I’d have a hard time telling a Ford, from a Toyota, a Honda, or a Buick these days. They all look pretty much the same to me, these days, thanks to the emphasis on fuel efficiency and aerodynamics.
Well anyways, you know me, I could not help but raise a question for myself, personally, as a believer in Jesus Christ. Just how, exactly, do others see me? Do I “set my God before me” (spiritually speaking, of course), so that when people meet me, they quickly recognize who I am and what I stand for? Or do I keep that hidden in my hip pocket, to be brought out later when I am more comfortable with showing that side of me, once I get to know a person, or whatever. We tend to often wait to bring up our faith, until we sense the time is right and we have determined that it’s safe and there is little chance for repercussions, don’t we? I know I have been guilty of that.
But Jesus, Himself, actually talked quite a bit about the need to be willing to “let your flag fly”, to be willing to put it right out in front, “I belong to Jesus Christ. I have been bought with a price. My trust and my hope is in Him.”
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 10:32-33 NASB]
Being a Christian was never meant to be like carrying a Capital One card, “What’s In Your Wallet?” Being a true follower of the Risen Savior requires more than just being a “card-carrying member.” It comes with a cost. We need to be willing to sacrifice our own identity for His. When you go into the military, you put on the full uniform. You don’t continue to wear your Nikes or your North Face gear (not that there is anything wrong with those things). But you take on a whole new identity. When you show up anywhere, as a member of the military, you are instantly identified as such. No question about it.
Jesus also said:
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” [Luke 9:26 NASB]
Listen, folks, if there is one thing I would never want to be accused of, it is that I was “ashamed of Christ”. May it never be. I would much rather die for standing up for my faith in Jesus than to live with the guilt and embarrassment of denying Him. Sorry, Peter, just sayin’. That would be really hard to live with, if you ask me.
Even the Apostle Paul had something to say on the subject of confessing Christ:
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? [Romans 10:8-9, 14 NASB]
Paul could have certainly stopped at “believe in your heart”, but he did not. If we simply recieve the message of the Gospel, believe with all our hearts, but we keep it to ourselves, in a sense, we are denying Christ just as much. We are called to be not just believers, but witnesses. We need to “set our God before us”, so that when others see us, they see Christ.
So…….what is your “hood ornament”?
When others see you coming or hear you speak, what sticks out….right up front?
First impressions are important.
King David knew that and it is every bit as true today.