Ever feel like someone’s looking over your shoulder or maybe watching your every move? We hear a lot these days about spying and cyber stalking and all kinds of espionage involving surveillance. There’s big tech keeping track of us, there are drones and those new doorbells that record everything and even our own cell phones track our movements and hold all our private communications with others via text or email on them. Security cameras are everywhere we go now – businesses, schools, parking lots, etc. All this surveillance is meant to keep us safe. It is for our own good.
However, there is a difference between being “watched” and being “watched over.” The former implies an element of spying or stalking, of something sinister and unwelcome. But the latter carries with it a sense of being cared for and protected. Being “watched” implies danger, being “watched over” implies safety. I find comfort in these words from Psalm 121 –
“The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:5-8)
I guess it depends on who is doing the “watching” whether it is a positive or a negative experience. I don’t mind my Creator watching over me, but I’m not so sure I want my government or anyone in positions of power and authority watching me. Why? Well, I know my Heavenly Father’s motives. I can read them in Jeremiah 29:11 –
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
That’s reassuring. So is knowing this –
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
Another translation says, “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” The point is – God is all light with no shadow, no darkness in Him. He does not have a dark side like human beings do ever since sin entered into the garden. I can trust my Heavenly Father. Not so much my government or big tech or media. They don’t really seem to have my best interests at heart. I’m not convinced they care about me personally. How could they? To them I am just a data point, a number on a graph, a potential source of income, a faceless entity to be marketed to and manipulated in order to achieve their desired outcomes often at my expense – not a unique and very real person. They don’t actually know me or care about me.
But they do collect a lot of information about me and other individuals. (in order to better serve me, they say) Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok for example keep quite a bit of personal information about the people who use their services as do companies we do business with and the IRS. Maybe that’s the difference, though. They know about me, but they don’t actually know me personally. To them I am merely an entity to be categorized, controlled and managed. I am the number of boxes they can check in describing me – age, sex, education, income level, skin color, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, occupation, where I live, where I shop, what I buy, – they can know all these things about me, without actually, really knowing me.
Not so with my Heavenly Father. His Sovereign surveillance is superior to man’s attempts at surveillance in every way. Consider this –
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)
And unlike human surveillance, God’s motives are pure. God keeps watch over us to help us, not to harm us. His surveillance of us is deeply personal because we are His creation, the work of His hands.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and not we ourselves. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:3)
And as our Shepherd, God watches over us with perfect surveillance. He never misses a beat. Nothing escapes Him. Even with all the billions of people, I never have to worry that I am invisible or unknown to my Heavenly Father. I mean, if He can keep track of zillions and trillions of stars, I think He can keep tabs on me. Isaiah had this to say about God and the stars –
“He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)
No stars are unknown, unnamed nor missing! Neither are any of the human beings (including you and I, dear readers) whom He created in His own image. If you have any doubt, just look what it says in Matthew –
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)
God’s perfect surveillance, His perfect watchcare, extends to knowing each star by name and knowing when each and every sparrow falls. His knowledge of you and me is just as detailed, actually even more so. Consider this –
“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:30-31) and this concerning God’s surveilling care –
“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, O Lord.” (Psalm 139:1-4)
The One who calls each star by name certainly knows my name too. And Psalm 139 tells me He also knows all my ways and all my words. (spoken and unspoken) My Heavenly Father does not lose track of me. In this chaotic, ever changing world, He always knows where I am and what I need. Even when I feel alone and forgotten like Job did, I can know with certainty the same thing Job knew when He felt God had abandoned him, which led Job to speak these words –
“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
Job knew God had not forgotten nor lost track of him, and furthermore Job had faith that God was going to take care of him, even in his troubles and then bring him “forth as gold.” That sounds like “plans to prosper him and not to harm him, plans to give him hope and a future,” doesn’t it?
Something else that makes God’s Sovereign surveillance superior to man’s is discovered in Psalm 121 –
“He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)
Because God is an Omniscient God, (meaning all knowing) I can rest in God’s loving surveillance, trusting that He does know “the way that I take” and “He won’t let my foot slip.” He also never sleeps – meaning He never takes a break, therefore nothing gets by Him. He knows it all. My Heavenly Father knows my deepest, darkest secrets and yet He loves and forgives me anyway. This is unlike the human surveillance of big tech, media or government who, as we witness daily, use anything they can find against whomever they wish to discredit, defame or destroy. How glad I am to read in Psalm 103:10-14 that God –
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
God is Sovereign over all. His surveillance is perfect and good, just like His character. I can trust Him. In fact Jude 24 says that –
“He is able to keep me from falling and to present me before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy -”
Thank You, Lord, that Your Sovereign surveillance so lovingly provides for me and protects me at all times. Though I fear man’s surveillance used for evil purposes, I rejoice in Your watchcare over me at all times.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)
The surveillance of the Good Shepherd always protects me, always provides for me, ensuring that I arrive safely at my destination – to dwell with Him forever.
grateful for His sovereign surveillance every day,
sincerely, Grace Day