Cloaking Devices

Common Threads

David prays to God in Psalm 86 (verse 17): "show me a token for good". David needed something, anything from God that would help him stay afloat amidst a sea of hate and persecution. But I think it was more than that. David needed reminding—as all of us do from time to time—of something that God had done for him or given him that was special.

One example of this kind of thing is Joseph's coat of many colors. There's a difference between being spoiled and being spoiled rotten. Joseph, the second-youngest—and most cherished—of Jacob's twelve sons had a special coat given him by his father. Of course, his brothers naturally hated the attention lavished upon Joseph by Jacob. Joseph was "the son of [Jacob's] old age" (Genesis 37:3). And surely, the fact that he was from a different mother didn't help Joseph's case. And so, out of jealousy, his ten elder brothers sold him into slavery to a "company of Ishmaelites" (37:27). This "token for good", if I may, his coat of many colors, surely didn't seem to be anything good at all. Couple this with the fact that Joseph had two powerfully prophetic dreams foretelling a day when all his brothers would bow down to him (37:9). So they got rid of him, dipping his coat in the blood of a goat, adding more red than was there, I assume (Genesis 37:31). I pose you this question: do you think Joseph's attitude was such that he used the obvious honor of the coat (understand that it  was a rare thing for a young man in a pastoral community to have such a remarkable article of clothing) as well as the stark future reality of the dreams to lord it over his brothers and make them feel inferior? I don't think so. When God gives a true weight of glory to one of His kids, the temptation to use it for oneself and their own (comparatively shallow) ends is seen for what it is. Joseph's destiny was interwoven with that of both Israel and Egypt and usually, someone who is destined for greatness must necessarily go through that period of trial and suffering before they're tasked with so great a responsibility. And Joseph ended up overseeing the agricultural economy of the nation of Egypt during severe famine.

Psalms (105:19) says regarding Joseph, "the word of the Lord tried him". Nothing could be done to keep Joseph from fulfilling that destiny. The coat ended up being a token for good after all.

When Jesus was sacrificed for our sins, the Roman soldiers present at the execution gambled for His coat, saying "Let us not rend it" (John 19:24). They wanted a piece (figuratively) of what Jesus had. The special thing about Jesus' coat was that it was "without seam, woven from the top throughout " (19:23). In other words, the arms weren't sewn on and a common thread was used to weave the coat that Jesus wore. While this is more than symbolic, I believe that it does symbolize that Jesus is not divided. His church, His people are to be as one. Living out and wearing the coat of His love and bringing people in to share in its warmth.

Loose Threads

Contrast this: Peter uses the analogy of a coat, or "cloke" (King James for "cloak"), saying how, just because we are free from the law and from sin because of Jesus's sacrifice, we shouldn't be conducting ourselves as arrogant or better than others. He says "use not your liberty as a cloke of maliciousness." (1 Peter 2:16). Paul says he and his fellow ministers did not use a "cloke of covetousness" (or greed) as it says in the King James (1 Thessalonians 2:5). The implication here is that both Peter and Paul are advocating transparency and honesty when doing "church stuff". I can't begin to count the people I've met in my life who've left church because they sensed that the "Christians" were acting that very way: malicious and greedy. Forgive us.

Back to David's prayer from Psalm 86. He says, give me a token for good "that others may see it". We're walking a fine line here, because others will see it. It's guaranteed. If God has blessed you with something that is noticeable, to the point of envy, please, please make sure you are conducting yourself in humility, kindness, compassion—and common sense. Please understand, God does not play favorites. And by all means, if you see that God has blessed someone else and given them something you also would like, know that God will do the same for you if you ask. "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). And it doesn't even have to be a thing. It could be a quality, like patience or hope. Or it could be something deeper like love, a sense of confidence or belonging (more on that tomorrow).

"I am as a wonder unto many; but Thou art my strong refuge." (Psalm 71:7)

Ask and ye shall receive—a token for good.

Enter hope, all ye who are abandoned here!

Be Still and Know