I grew up watching my mom and grandmother can anything that was “cannable”. Preserving food was just part of summer. I can still remember those hot afternoons standing in a chair cranking that tomato juicer as my mom dropped in what seemed like a never ending supply of fresh tomatoes.
After the sun had gone down we would drag our tired selves inside for a bath to scrub away the splattered tomato juice from wherever it had landed throughout the day. Honestly, at that time, preserving food on my own was the furthest thing from my mind. But over 20 years later, here I am standing in my kitchen juicing tomatoes from our garden so I can do the same for my family.
As I was reading one of David’s prayers recently in Psalm 16, I was intrigued by the words he chose to use and how he chose to use them.
“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. (emphasis mine)
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
Due to all the food preservation I’ve undertaken this summer, David using this word as a prayer for himself to God made me stop and reread this passage a few times. For some reason I was having trouble wrapping my mind around asking God to preserve me. All I could think of was green beans and pickles and tomato juice. How can I be bottled up and preserved for later use?
After some help from my Psalms commentary I found that the word preserve means to,
“keep” or “save”, “guard me” as bodyguards surround their monarch or as shepherds protect their flock . . . I need to be preserved from the power of evil . . . God is the preserver of men (Job 7:20) . . . Jesus would be preserved (Isaiah 49:7-8) . . . Jesus asks for preservation for himself and all in Him (John 17) . . . If Jesus looked out of himself for protection, how much more must we . . .
Just as I am “keeping” or “saving” the vegetables for the colder, out of season days so David is asking God to “keep” or “save” him from evil. The older I get the more aware I become of sin in my life and the more I realize how much evil is around me in this earthly life.
Spurgeon, in the Psalms commentary, goes on to describe that this cry “O God”, David’s cry, is the Hebrew word El which is used of God when under a sense of great weakness.
So David is crying out for God to keep him, save him, guard him in this time when he is under a sense of great weakness. Oh haven’t you felt like this?! This is balm to my sores, light to my darkness, hope to my hopelessness. I live in a fallen world and it is inevitable that I will encounter difficult times here. I will experience a sense of great weakness. This may come during times of great suffering. Or it may come just on an ordinary day when it seems everything is “great”.
But David doesn’t stop there. “For in you I take refuge.” Do you want to know what Spurgeon says about this? “As chickens run beneath the hen, so do I come to thee.” I have a place of security, safety, a refuge! I have a place beneath my heavenly father, in the shadow of His wings where I find all that I could ever need or even want.
As I sterilize yet another lid and screw a canning ring on another quart jar I don’t look see just a jar of tomatoes. I see a reminder of my God, the same God David cried out to, my God who preserves me!