“But God will redeem my life from the power of Sheol, for He will take me” (Psalm 49:15, HCSB).
Jesus’ birth, death and role as Redeemer was continually proclaimed throughout the Old Testament. He would come and die, becoming Living Grace, the Bridge between fallen man and their Holy Creator.
In First Corinthians 15:54b-55, we read this familiar passage: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Not only does this passage hint of Psalm 49:15, we also see Paul’s reference to at least two other Old Testament passages – Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14:
“He will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe the tears from every face and remove His people’s disgrace from the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken. On that day it will be said, ‘Look, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He has saved us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation” (Isaiah 25:8-9).
“I will ransom them from the power of Sheol. I will redeem them from death. Death, where are your barbs? Sheol, where is your sting?” (Hosea 13:14).
If you’ve heard me tell this before, bear with me, but I think it’s well worth repeating. It was fall and late afternoon, and I was about 10 years old when I went with my daddy to my Great Aunt Jocie’s house so that he could put a new sink in her bathroom. As Aunt Jocie and I wandered in and out of the bedroom, peeking through the doorway into the small space where Daddy was working, I remember surveying my aunt’s humble surroundings.
The bedroom was sparsely furnished, with the unfinished heart pine floors barely peeking out around the edges of a linoleum rug patterned in big pink roses and swirls of different shades of blue. A small braided oval rug in a dingy rainbow of colors made a warm spot for Aunt Jocie’s feet whenever she climbed out of bed and an ancient coat of pale green paint covered the beadboard walls and ceiling. Overhead, in the center of the room, a single light bulb dangled from its wiring, and faded homespun curtains were pushed to each side of the window.
The rest of the furnishings were a chifferobe, her bed, a rocking chair, a nightstand and a lamp. The old iron “bedstead” was brown painted metal and the bed cover was a well-worn handmade quilt. The rocker was slat-backed, cane-bottomed, and armless – as simple and unadorned as my aunt who stood no taller than myself. It stood opposite the bed from the nightstand and was angled just enough to allow its occupant benefit from either the lamp or the natural light from the room’s solitary window.
Beneath the lamp on the small square bedside table was a time- and use-worn leather-bound Bible and I remember watching closely as Aunt Jocie’s fingers caressed the cover before she lifted it. Pulling it to her breast, she hugged it fiercely as she stood and gazed at the gathering starlight, the loose hairs from her braided silver bun scattered about her face like a gossamer halo.
“You know,” she said, “sometimes I can’t sleep at night, so I get up and come to this window. I look up into the stars and I get so excited, thinking, ‘Lord, will this be the night that you come to take me home?’”
It wasn’t too many years after that when Aunt Jocie went to heaven and I can only imagine how many hairpins flew from that bun as she ran down the streets of gold to Jesus! She had kept her heart and mind aware of where her real home was. How I pray for that same kind of passion for our real home to grow greater inside me! How I pray for this same kind of passion to grow within you!