This verse is addressed to redeemed souls, people who belong to the Lord. They have privileges that are unimaginably great. They have favor with God. Yet the present world, sin, and the devil present them with challenges that often bring distress, and shake their faith.
The Lord confronts the believer with his doubts by these words: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?” The names Jacob and Israel point to the covenant promise of God, that the Lord will have a people his very own, whom he redeems by grace. Israel means those who belong to the Lord.
The promise ultimately points to the Lord Jesus Christ. So the Lord addresses us this way when our faith is wobbly. The believer in Christ is to consider he is a recipient of grace, and heir of the promise in Christ, to be with God forever.
The transcendent God, he who created all the stars and knows them by name, (verse 26) is reminding you of his transcendent promise in Christ. Christ is the “Surety of a better covenant (Hebrews 7).” A Surety is one who engages to become responsible for the legal obligations of another to be met. So Christ became the representative for his people with respect to the law of God.
He is the Mediator who brings God and men together by his sacrifice. The grace of God is that he considers what Christ has done to meet the standards of his law rather than what you have done, and reckons Christ’s work to you. In Christ, you are completely righteous and absolved of all sin.
This is why the gospel is good news. God requires sinners to “obey the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8).” Faith in Christ requires us to enter the kingdom of God. You must lay aside your own righteousness; commit your will, life, and soul to Christ. God commands us to love our own souls this way, to take the remedy which may cure them. To refuse Christ is to condemn your soul.
Though the believer is accepted by God in Christ, he still has to live out his days in a world full of sin and trouble. And as we see in our verse, he can sometimes think his “way is hidden from the Lord.” This means things are so bad in your life; you question whether the Lord is aware of it. The believer may never say this, but God sees the heart, he knows doubt and unbelief when it is there.
So the Lord would remind his people that he is the best portion. If we have him, we can be confident he purposed to have us. Was your way hidden from him when he formed you in the womb (psalm 139)? Were you hidden from him, when he sent the gospel to you and renewed your soul? Is it possible a soul Christ died for, pledged to shepherd, is not under his watchful eye?
The Lord warns his people they will face tribulations. If you are under darkness, know that the Lord will bring you back into the light of joy, so you can say even in the present cloud, “thou will be done.” As Spurgeon said, “I can sing in the dark; expectation of light shall furnish me with music.”
This verse also envisions a redeemed soul in tribulation thinking; “my right is disregarded by my God.” This means the believer sees other people as having it better, even unbelievers. A scriptural example is Psalm 73. The psalmist looked at those who mocked the Lord, were proud, full of malice, and other iniquities. They seemed to be full of bliss, devoid of all trouble.
He implied that he had followed the Lord in vain, or so it seemed. But then he entered the sanctuary of God, and it was shown to him the destiny of those who don’t know God. They may say “peace” today, but destruction will come suddenly. One of the plainest truths in all Scripture is that God will judge the earth, and make a distinction between his people and other souls. We must remind ourselves often of the value of salvation, especially in tribulation.
Egypt was destroyed; Israel spared. Nothing will stop the hand of the Lord. Christ will gather his sheep, and judge all others. There will be no errors or injustice. Everything will be brought into the light. Only then will those in Christ fully know how much they owe to him.