by Rob Tims
There is a mild to moderate aversion in some Christian circles toward talking about the benefits of knowing God. This aversion is a reaction to our tendency to approach God as consumers. “What can you do for me, God? I’ll consider Christianity based on your answer.” But I think we can go too far and ignore the fact that to know God is to have some pretty amazing things. Psalm 16 mentions 7 in particular (all verses from the CSB).
First, to know God is to have protection. Verse 1: “Protect me, God, for I take refuge in you.” David appears to have been in crisis, a common occurrence based on all the Psalms he wrote. Yet in these crises, David knew God had his back. To know God is to have His protection.
Second, to know God is to have provision. Verse 2: “I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have nothing good besides you.” God knows all of our needs. Yet what kind of God would know our needs and not give them to us? Fortunately, to know God is to have His good and perfect provision.
Third, to know God is to be drawn to those who are righteous. Verse 3: “As for the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones. All my delight is in them.” Our relationship with God is not a solitary one. To know Him is to know His people who are in the same relationship with Him as we are. Not only know them, but desire to grow with them and delight in knowing them.
Fourth, to know God is to be troubled by sin. Verse 4: “The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply; I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.” Sin and the danger associated with it is ever-present. We are under a constant barrage of temptation to worship other gods. That God protects us, provides for us, and gives us a desire for His righteousness does not lead us to be ignorant or absent from the brokenness of our world. To know God is to be aware of sin.
Fifth, to know God is to be joyfully content. Verses 5-6: “Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” David’s life was full of strife, but also full of God. To know God is to be joyfully content in all circumstances because He is enough. Like Paul, David knew the secret of contentment; namely, knowing God.
Sixth, to know God is to be faithfully guided. Verses 7-8: “I will bless the Lord who counsels me—even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I always let the Lord guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” I’m coming up on 10 years of living in the Nashville area. Therefore, I rarely use my phone for directions. Familiarity with my surroundings has bred a spirit of independence when it comes to getting where I need to be. Life, however, will never be so familiar. I’m in constant need of guidance and counsel, and I have it because I know God.
Seventh, to know God is to claim Jesus’ future as my own. Verses 9-11: “Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely. For you will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful one to see decay. You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.” Though he likely did understand how or why he could enjoy God eternally, David certainly anticipated doing just that. On this side of Jesus, we now know exactly how this eternal benefit of knowing God will come (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 15). Our knowledge of God does not end with our last breaths; rather, there is a sense in which it only just begins.
I understand the fears associated with talking about the benefits of knowing God, but I also understand the dangers of not talking about them at all. We do ourselves and the lost world a great disservice if we neglect the good news of what it means to know God.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.