But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; Psalm 73:28
Nearness – Asaph wrote this psalm. He was a choir leader and musician in David’s court (see 1 Chronicles 6:39). In 1841, Sarah Adams put the thought to the music we know. “Nearer my God to Thee” recalls Asaph’s great Hebrew hymn. History recalled both Asaph and Sarah on the evening of April 14, 1912 when the band played this hymn on the deck of the Titanic.
The Hebrew word is unusual. It is only used twice in the entire Bible, once here and once in Isaiah 58:2 where the term is connected to “delight”. With so little to help us understand the meaning, what can we glean from qirvath? We can take a clue from the Hebrew apostle, John. In the first verse of his good news, he says that the Word was “with” God. He uses the preposition pros. It has this special sense: to be in the closest possible proximity, to be right along side. Jesus, says John, was in the closest possible nearness to the Father. The rest of John’s gospel is nothing more than an illustration of this point. Jesus is so close to the Father that he is able to say, “that they may be one, just as We are one” (John 17:22). Isn’t that what we really desire? To be so close to Him that we continually breath His presence. Jesus prayed that we might experience such nearness, not in the moments of terror and tragedy like the night on the Titanic, but in every moment of ordinary life like the evenings and mornings of our Savior.
Asaph knew that true delight comes from nearness to God. Jesus is the living example of what that delight looks like in human form. Asaph knew that being in breathing proximity with the Father is the epitome of what is good (another word we will need to explore). He understood the absolute depths of reality. This ancient choirmaster saw that God’s sheltering arms around me, the sound of His breath in my ear and the beat of His heart of compassion are more precious than all the kingdoms of the earth. What is my good? To be gathered next to God.
Today the world will do all it can to push you away from your “good”. The world does not believe in the bond that brings a child to a father’s arms. It lauds separation, a seductive reality that would destroy your good. Today you will not succumb to that lie. Today you will know that nearer to God is your good.
Topical Index: Psalm 73:28, nearness, good