Worries about crime, disease and disasters are increasing. What can we do to avoid danger, and what does the Bible say about seeking divine protection?
If you follow the news on a regular basis, you may be experiencing a growing unease with the state of our world. It seems that the dangers posed by natural disasters, crime, war and disease are growing with each passing day.
Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves? Can we seek and rely on divine protection?
Looking at times when God watched over His servants can help us answer these questions.
Divine protection in Genesis
The first instance of divine protection recorded in Scripture is that of Noah. God destroyed the entire world with a flood because He “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Noah and his family, however, escaped the Flood. God warned Noah in advance, telling him to build an ark designed to survive the coming deluge (verses 13-21). Noah obeyed.
The ark was a massive vessel. The dimensions provided in verse 13 are 300 cubits in length, 50 in width and 30 in height. The cubit was approximately 18 inches, so Noah’s ark was 450 feet (137 meters) long, 75 feet (23 meters) wide and 45 feet (14 meters) high.
This was not a weekend project!
Building such a vessel would have required a tremendous amount of work.
Lessons from Noah
Noah’s story teaches us several important truths about divine protection.
First, God chose to protect Noah because he was a righteous man. Described as “a just man” and as “perfect in his generations” (verse 9), he stood out.
The Hebrew word translated “perfect” does not mean that Noah had no flaws. Rather, when used of a person, the word means “there is nothing in his outward activities or internal disposition that is odious to God” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary).
Second, Noah had an ongoing relationship with God. One short sentence tells us about this relationship: “Noah walked with God” (verse 9). To walk with someone means to go the same direction at the same pace. It means sharing a goal and working toward it together. Thus, Noah walked with God.
This walk includes obedience. Genesis 6 concludes by telling us that Noah obeyed “according to all that God commanded him” (verse 22).
Third, God planned and provided protection for Noah and his family, but He required Noah to do his part. Noah spent years working on the ark that would save eight people and thousands of animals.
God provided the “blueprint” for the ark, and undoubtedly blessed Noah’s efforts, but God did not build the ark for him! Trusting God doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing.
Divine protection of a future king
Our second example occurred during the reign of Saul. At one point, the army of Israel trembled before Goliath, a Philistine soldier who stood more than 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall. For 40 days he challenged the Israelites to select a single warrior to face him, suggesting that the results of that match would avert an actual battle (1 Samuel 17:4, 8-10, 16).
Seeing this enormous man before them, Saul and his army were “greatly afraid” (verse 11). Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine anyone not being greatly afraid when facing such an opponent!
Lessons from David
What gave David such courage? When Goliath threatened to give David’s “flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field” (verse 44), David responded with words that reveal his own thinking.
First, David’s focus was on his God, not the giant threatening him. In his response to Goliath, David pointed out that the giant had not merely taunted Israel, but that he had defied the God of Israel. David was not interested in his own personal glory, but in God’s glory.
David explained the reason for his confidence. Through his victory, “all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (verse 46). God’s salvation is not based on physical weapons of war, but on His sovereign power (verse 47).
A second important lesson we learn from David is the importance of remembering God’s past actions in our lives. The confrontation with Goliath was not the first time David had needed divine protection.
After Saul had dismissed David as too young to fight, David told Saul that God had protected him from a lion and a bear as he shepherded his father’s sheep. In each of those instances, David had killed the predators, but gave God the credit (verses 34-37).
These memories, in turn, strengthened David’s resolve to rely on God’s protection during the upcoming match with Goliath: “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (verse 37).
Read more Bible verses about protection and safety in our online article “22 Encouraging Verses About God’s Protection.”
Self-protection or divine protection?
Now we can begin to answer the questions asked at the beginning of this article:
- Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves?
- Can we seek and rely on divine protection?
The answer to both questions is yes. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Seeking God’s protection does not mean ignoring our own responsibilities.
We see this dual responsibility in the story about the temptation of Jesus. When Satan told Jesus to throw Himself off the “pinnacle of the temple” to prove that He was the Son of God, Jesus responded by quoting Scripture: “You shall not tempt the LORD your God” (Matthew 4:7, quoting Deuteronomy 6:16).
The point is, we can have faith in God and rely on divine protection, but not if we unnecessarily put ourselves into dangerous situations. In this temptation, Satan wanted Jesus to intentionally put Himself in danger. Jesus didn’t, and neither should we, either intentionally or simply carelessly.
For more on avoiding dangers, see the sidebar “Tips for Protecting Yourself and Your Family.”
Five lessons from Noah and David
Both Noah and David took steps to protect themselves. They also looked to God for their ultimate protection, knowing that on their own they would fail.
Here is a summary of five lessons we’ve gleaned from Noah and David, presented as questions for us to ask ourselves:
- Do I strive to live a righteous life? Do I obey God?
- Do I have and maintain an ongoing relationship with God, or do I turn to God only when I need something or when I am desperate?
- Have I done my part in protecting myself and my family?
- When confronted with potential danger, do I focus solely on the threat before me, or do I focus on the power and love of God?
- Do I remember the times in my life when God has blessed me and protected me?
When God doesn’t protect His servants
It’s important to remember that God sometimes allows His faithful servants to suffer. Very early in the biblical story, we see that God did not protect Abel from his murderous brother Cain (Genesis 4:3-8). Abel is described as righteous (Hebrews 11:4), and yet God allowed this injustice.
However, understanding this concept does not mean we should give up on divine protection! We should seek God’s protection in all aspects of our life, yet recognize that He may have other plans for reasons we don’t yet understand.
Even so, we can be confident “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28; see “What Does Romans 8:28 Mean?”). Ultimately, the Bible promises that God’s faithful people will live again in a future resurrection.
As we approach the end times, the world will continue its slide into anarchy and chaos. We should do all we can to prepare ourselves, carefully maintaining the balance between personal responsibility and reliance on divine protection.
Sidebar: Tips for Protecting Yourself and Your Family
Regardless of the potential hazards we all face, there are often specific steps we can take to minimize our own risks and avoid danger (Proverbs 22:3). Many organizations, from law enforcement agencies to first responders, provide suggestions that will help us prepare.
We cannot address every potential risk, but here are a few tips related to preventing personal and property crimes:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Just noticing what is around you can help you avoid becoming a victim.
- Walk with a confident stride. The more confident you appear, the less inviting you become to a criminal.
- Don’t make yourself an inviting target by flashing cash or other valuables around.
- Make yourself a hard target by traveling in a group, when possible. Also, avoid dark and secluded places, especially at night.
- Make your property a hard target. Consider adding deadbolts to doors in your home, adding lights to dark places and installing a security system.
- Maintain your property. Unmown lawns, broken windows and other signs of neglect can suggest that a home is unoccupied.
- Think twice before sharing details about travel plans prior to a trip, whether you do so in person or through social media.
For tips on preparing for natural disasters (and other disaster situations), you can visit ready.gov.