Would you rather be fenced in or fenced out of something? Maybe you would prefer the freedom to have no fence at all–to roam free and explore whatever you find.
Psalm 119:57-64 – Chet or Heth
You are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands. Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law. At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws. I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts. The earth is filled with your love, O LORD; teach me your decrees (NIV).
Psalm 119 is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet with eight verses for each letter. The above passage is based on the eighth letter chet. The ancient pictograph for this letter looks like a fence; the word itself is derived from chayim, which means “life.”
So, what is a fence for? To keep something either in or out, right? A fence is normally used for protection. We fence in animals to keep them from wandering away and being hurt or lost. Now to some, that may seem like too much restraint. The fence will keep the animal from having the freedom to choose his own path. We may be tempted to think we are better off without the fence.
The great thing about a fence, though, is that it usually has a gate.
Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jon 10:7-10).
I love this whole passage! Jesus is saying that the enemy, Satan, will tempt us to leave the safety of the fenced-in pasture, but if we will stay in the fence, He is the gate. In other words, He is not trying to keep us in and never let us find freedom; on the contrary, if we follow Him, we can come in and go out, and find pasture (safety and satisfaction) there with Him.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:3b-4).
When we are willing to let God keep us protected from the enemy by staying inside His will for us, Jesus will come and take us on excursions outside the pasture and lead us on adventures far better than we could ever have imagined or chosen on our own.
The secret lies in Psalm 119. Look at verse 1 –
You are my portion, O LORD.
When we make the Lord our portion, we can trust His fence around us.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread you protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield (Psalm 5:11-12).
Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him (Psalm 32:10).
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:3-4)
There is no life without the fence. When we ignore the fence and go our own way, we end up bound with the ropes of the wicked (Psalm 119:61).
We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
So don’t be fooled by the enemy’s illusion of freedom outside the fence. He lures us there to bind us in chains that we alone cannot break. The Great Shepherd, however, will lead us right through the gate and into an abundant life we never dreamed was possible from here inside the fence. Because He is the Gate. He is the way to freedom. He is life.