“You hem me in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me”(Psalm 139:5)
To our modern, Western ears, the term “hemmed in” sounds like a negative concept. The word in English implies surrounding, limiting or restricting someone in what they can or cannot do, causing them to feel confined; without options. But in Biblical language it has a completely different meaning – actually the opposite of what we might picture. To be hemmed in by God is absolute freedom.
A Place of Freedom
David knew that God had him safely hemmed in on all sides. Nothing could come to David without first passing through God’s permission. What was true for David is true for all who put their trust in the Lord.
We aren’t confined, we are free; we can rest in the knowledge that we live within God’s safe place of protection and direction.
Psalm 34:7 tells us: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”
Complete in Him
I like to think of a hem on a piece of a beautifully woven cloth, let’s say a table cloth. With that hem the cloth is finished, complete; it is protected from unraveling under the first small sign of stress, it can withstand washing and drying and last for years, perhaps even become a family heirloom. The edges are secured by the hem.
Similarly, God hems us in. We are secure and complete in Him, we will not become unraveled under every little stress of life.
I love those words, “and [you] lay your hand upon me.” It depicts such beautiful imagery of a firm but loving Father’s hand upon the head of His child. It’s a hand of blessing and guidance. To me, personally, it speaks volumes – “this child is mine, I’m delighted with her, I will always bless her, you cannot harm her.”
How comforting it is to know this! You and I can hold on to this truth that we are hemmed in by God, completely surrounded by Him. Freedom comes from learning to trust Him and truly rest in Him through every season of life, especially the difficult times. We can know that God lays His hand is upon our heads, and says, “you are mine.”