For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed those who desert You for harlotry. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works. (Psalm 73:27–28—NKJV)

My uncle was a rather imposing man, both for his height and for his gruff demeanor. Somewhat contrary to his personality, he had two small dogs, Oliver and Harry. One of the two dogs had a snaggle-tooth that would catch in your pant leg as he skittered past you. The other was a cravenly little guy who, for whatever reason, took a dislike to me. This dog would kick up a fuss when I came in the house and then would skulk away under a table or a chair and wait his opportunity to take a nip at a heel or two when it took his fancy. I was never quite sure if the tug on my pant leg was an honest mistake from Oliver or a terroristic sneak attack by Harry.

Needless to say, I would spend the entire time visiting my uncle and aunt on the lookout for the little set of teeth on four legs. I had no desire to draw near to that little guy and when he drew near to me it was with a vicious glee in his eye. There are some on this earth who think of God in the same way. They think they are minding their own business and pay homage to their Creator because they must, but all the while they regard Him with suspicion because bad things happen to them in life. With the passing of time on this earth, such an estimate of the nature of God leads the person to do all he can to avoid God and keep Him at arms’ length. Such a strategy does not prepare him for the day of reckoning that is sure to come because “it is appointed to man once to die, and then the judgment.”

When a Christian harbors similar thoughts, he is behaving like a child who does not get along with his father. When he has opportunity he avoids him. It may be because he never really learned to trust his heavenly Father or he has grown cold in sin and, in shame, he hides his face. It may be life has been tough and he assumes God has not been fair with him. It may be that evil seems to prevail all around him and ungodly people skate through life apparently scot-free (much like what the psalmist wrestled with in Psalm 73). Envy of sinners is a plague among saints. In each of these scenarios the problem is not what seems observable in life, it is that bad theology has taken root in his soul and dictates spiritual barrenness to his thoughts.

The one action that saved the psalmist from himself and his distrust of God was a holy determination to draw near to God. Only believers have the inner working of the Holy Spirit. He prompts and equips the Christian to truly draw near to God in the midst of trials. The unregenerate heart always does the opposite. As the old saying goes, “The same sun that hardens clay softens butter.” Four times in the Hebrew language this psalm uses the phrase “but as for me” (verses 2, 22, 23, and 28). The singular antidote for foolish distrust of our good God, which allows anyone to gain eternal perspective, is to draw near to God with a purposeful heart. Camp out in His presence. I am convinced that the psalmist’s admonition brings to mind Israel’s “order of camp” as they followed the Pillar of Cloud and the Pillar of Fire throughout their wilderness wanderings.

The desire to draw near to God was so profound that verse 25 could be translated, “Whom else have I in heaven, and having you, I want no one on earth.” The pressures upon the psalmist were so intense that verse 26 declares, “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength [rock] of my heart and my portion forever.” He was not fooled into thinking that he should distance himself from God (verse 27) but rather, “But as for me nearness to God is good! I will put my trust [find my refuge] in the Lord [Adonai] God, that I may declare all Your works.”

New Testament saints are enjoined to do the same thing. Hebrews 10:22–23 entreats, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful.” James 4:8 preaches, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.” In the old dispensation, it was specific priests that had the special, regular privilege to draw near the shekinah glory of God. All saints have that privilege today. Let nothing get between you and your God, do not shy away through indifference and disregard. Count yourself blessed with the right to approach the throne of the Most High. Draw nigh, approach your Lord on the basis of the sinless blood of His Son! Trust and obey.