Between the Shoulders

Deuteronomy

“The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety.
The High God surrounds him all day long,
and dwells between his shoulders.”
–Deuteronomy 33:12 (ESV)

Prior to Moses’ death, he blessed each of the tribes of Israel as they prepared to enter the promised land. The blessing for the tribe of Benjamin consisted only of this verse. Yet within this one verse is a rich blessing for all of life.

Benjamin was the youngest of the sons of Israel (Jacob). From this tribe would come the first king of Israel, Saul. This tribe would also produce the apostle Paul. Paul was initially named after Saul, that first king.

Yet more important than her offspring was the blessing provided by the Lord through Moses. Like any of the tribes who had escaped from the bondage of Egypt and about to enter a land in which they would have to drive out God’s enemies, the people of Benjamin must have been concerned for their safety.

God relieved them of their fear by declaring that he would cause them to dwell in safety. This assurance rested on the truth that they were beloved of the LORD. Benjamin had been the beloved of his earthly father Jacob. He was the youngest of all of his sons and was born to the one whom Jacob loved most, Rachel.

More important than the love of his earthly father was the love of his heavenly father. Jacob could not always shield Benjamin during his life as evidenced by Jacob’s sons journey into Egypt. Plus Jacob would eventually die and be unable to provide him with safety.

But the Lord lives and reigns forever. This was a more sure word of promise than any earthly father could provide.

How does God protect those whom he loves? He encompasses them with his presence. He surrounds them. God is specifically designated as the High God. When the God from on high surrounds his beloved, they are surrounded. He is above them and beneath them. He is in front, behind and beside them. He has them covered.

The phrase in this verse that is the most striking is that the Lord dwells between his shoulders. That space between the soldiers contains both the head and the heart. For Benjamin that is the space filled by the Lord. Not only is he surrounding Benjamin, he is between his shoulders. He is in his head and in his heart.

And the Lord does not merely flit in and out of this space. He dwells there. He abides there. He pitches his tent there.

Has the Lord pitched his tent between your shoulders? Surely we can hear this blessing echo in the New Testament as Jesus promised his followers that he would dwell or abide in them. He would not merely be with them. He would be in them. And if in them, then they are safe and secure. This indwelling of Christ is our hope of glory (Col 1:27).