We all understand what a shadow is, or at least we think we do. The sun creates a shadow of us that follows us where-ever we go and mirrors exactly an outline of our form.
In Psalm 121:5, we read: “YHVH is your keeper, YHVH is your shade on your right hand”
The Hebrew word (Tzilcha) normally translated as ‘shade’ though, can be translated as ‘shadow’, so we instead get: “YHVH is your protection, YHVH is your shadow to your right.”
The famous Jewish Rabbi, Baal Shem Tov translated it this way and argued that ‘your shadow’ means that HaShem becomes our shadow in this world.
Just as a shadow mirrors the actions of each person, HaShem’s relationship with us becomes a mirror of how we act in His world. Our ways below in this world, arouse and elicit HaShem’s response from heaven above.
Just as a shadow moves in synch with the person and never leaves him, the way we choose to conduct ourselves in the world is the way God conducts Himself with us. If we engage in acts of loving kindness, then God responds in kind, by showing us His infinite loving kindness.
Before we investigate and meditate on this incredible insight, what evidence is there that this insight has real validity?
Let is start with Adam. Consider that after Adam sins, he hears God’s voice and he and his wife hide behind a tree. Obviously, God could see Adam and knew where he was, but nevertheless, God asks ‘where are you?’. God responds here at the level that Adam is at. He moves in synch with him; He acknowledges Adam’s state of apprehension, and rather that overwhelm it with the truth of His all-knowing and all-seeing omni-presence, He acts as if He can’t see where Adam is.
This is not God being temporarily senile!
This understanding is consistent with the concept of ‘The King Who Hides’ (– see https://globaltruthinternational.com/2012/09/23/moses-and-the-king-who-hides/). It is also consistent with the famous declaration of Jeremiah 29:11-14
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,
I will be found by you, declares the LORD, …”
Note here that the Almighty’s plans await our response; that He waits for us to come to Him, to seek Him. It is only when we seek Him with our everything, that we truly and fully find Him.
Therefore, I see this foundational passage as supporting this incredible insight.
Further, we read in Song of Solomon, which is a great story of the love that the Almighty wishes to share with us: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine …”. This also hints of this reciprocity, this moving in synch.
Is this not what any great relationship is all about, where each one in the relationship is responsive to the other and reciprocates as much as possible in kind?
As a father of 4 grown children, I have always felt that once they grew up and left home, the degree of relationship I have with them is very much dependent on them, on how close and how involved with me they now want to be.
I have done my job in bringing them up and hopefully giving them the teaching (torah), skills and faith to step out with confidence and courage into the world to make their own path. And yet, I desire the relationship to continue, but no longer with me as an authority figure, but as someone there, in the background, also therefore in a sense as a shadow, willing to be there when needed either for physical or emotional support, but mostly hoping that they will turn to me for spiritual support, for help finding their way toward the Almighty, the ultimate Father. So I am ready and willing to relate in synch with them, to be their ‘shadow’.
Thus, as a father, I see myself in a similar light to the way our King and Father relates to us.
So I see much truth in this great Jewish insight. Consider then that our relationship with God is so much dependent of us, on how much we act with loving kindness in our world. Leviticus 19:18 tells us that we are to love our neighbour, if we love God. The more we show love to our fellow man, the more we are in synch with God and the greater our relationship with Him will be, because, as our love for others grows, His love for us, His blessing of us grows in synch!
The Almighty blesses all mankind; He makes the sun shine and the rain fall on all; but He also, as a loving Father, wants more.
I believe He wants a deeper and closer relationship, but it will only be as deep and as close as we allow it to be. The more we are obedient to Him and His Ways, the closer He will be to us, and the greater His blessings will become!
The depth, the breadth, the height, the width of your relationship with Abba, with your Father is dependent on you!