A Language of Intimacy
Although the term “intimacy with God” has become a buzz word in many religious circles, it is a true and real experience that God has opened to us. Jesus references this intimacy several times in passages such as, John 14:23 and Rev. 3:20.
- “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. Then my Father will love him, and We will go to him and make our home within him.” John 14:23 ISV
- “Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20 NET
What can be more intimate than God making His home in us; or God having dinner time fellowship with us? Intimacy implies a relationship so close, so personal, and so vulnerable that the two people are as one. It is like a “melding into God;” or like “lodging” within God.
The expression “intimacy” when applied to God and us seems too personal, too private, well, almost too intimate to believe. Yet that is exactly what God calls us into. I marvel at the thought of having a personal relationship with God, the God who creates and sustains all life.
Jesus – Came from Intimacy
Jesus is the perfect example of an intimate relationship with God. John 1:18 tells us that Jesus dwelt in the “bosom of the Father.”
- “No one has ever yet seen God. The only begotten God, the One being in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him” John 1:18 (BSB)
“Bosom” is a term of intimacy. Being “in the bosom” is up close and personal, so close it is like being melded with another. It is being lodged next to and held close to the heart. Jesus lived in the bosom of the Father, the place where deep love and intimate truths are exchanged.
This thought of “bosom intimacy” is revealed in other words of Jesus.
- “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30
- “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?” John 14:9b-10a
- “…that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent Me.” John 17:21
Jesus’ intimacy, His “bosom” relationship with God made Him able to reveal God’s will and character to us. His “bosom” closeness made Him able to trust the Father, as well as surrender to and become obedient to the will of the Father.
Intimacy Sounds Like . . .
A good place to learn about this intimate relationship is in the Psalms. King David is described in the scriptures as a man after God’s own heart, a good example of a “bosom” friendship. The Psalms, those of David and others, open a portal for us to view intimacy with God. We will hear words like: longing, yearning, fainting, languishing, gazing, hungering, thirsting, panting and more.
One thing that is striking and revealing in David’s writings is the language he uses to express his feelings for God. Let’s look at some these expressions.
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Lord, my spirit fails; do not hide Your face from me, or I will become like those who go down to the pit. Ps. 143:5-7 (NASB)
David speaks intimately to God, boldly declaring his longing for God, and almost demanding that God pay attention to him.
The word for “long” in this passage is “ayeph.” It means “to long for.” This is not just an emotional “hankering” for God, but rather it is a deep internal soul yearning that involves mind, heart and body. The definition implies a physical longing that is akin to fainting with exhaustion; languishing from the toil of earnestly seeking for the closeness of God; a longing for God to insert Himself in David’s life; a longing to hear from God and see Him act in his life.
This longing is so physical that it involves “stretching his hands out” for God, perhaps like a child reaching up to be held close, comforted and loved. Also, David longs so intensely that his “spirit fails” if God does not respond.
In Psalm 84:2 David expresses this same type of longing: “My soul longs yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
Even though the word “long” in this verse comes from a different Hebrew word it implies a longing that is a pining after the presence of God, and it includes a physical effect such as turning pale from the effort of longing. Being in a bosom relationship with God produces a physical response of the heart and flesh singing.
Thirsting and Panting
David’s words in Psalm 42:1-2 describe what intimacy with God sounds like and looks like.
- “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
Here, we see that intimacy pants and thirsts for God. The term pant (arag) is rich with meaning. It expresses a strong desire; a bent, or intent to be with God as a deer would search out water. Also, it is defined as a breathe or a deep sigh, perhaps like a deer bleating or crying out after water. I have to ask myself: Do I cry out for more closeness with God? Do I eagerly anticipate being in His presence? Do I practice His presence daily, hourly in my life?
In studying about this, I found that deer never roam far from a water source, even if it is but a puddle on the ground. It is interesting that David uses this imagery to describe his connection to God. In other words even though he has a relationship with God and is close with Him, David desires and seeks to be connected to God more and more deeply.
Consumed in God
There are numerous expressions of intimacy in the Psalms. Intimacy with God cannot just be a buzz word or a hot topic in our “spiritual” conversations. It is our actual living relationship with God that involves our whole life not just our “practice” of religion, or our academic study of the Bible.
Take time to read through the psalms and look for the consuming passion of the psalmist’s intimacy with God. Here are a few:
- “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25 NIV (Asaph)
- “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Ps. 27:4 NIV
- “For better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Ps. 84:10
- “Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” Ps. 26:8
Reflect on Your Intimacy
As I study about the intimacy revealed in the Psalms, I cannot help but reflect on my relationship with God. Am I living in my relationship with God, “supping” with Him, or merely practicing a nice little religion that makes me feel spiritually secure?
Do the words longing, yearning, hungering, thirsting, or languishing for, describe my relationship with God? Do I seek to take time to “gaze” on the beauty of the Lord? Do I seek His face? Am I consumed in Him or am I too preoccupied with my own identity and too involved in my own pursuits and “standing” among men? What words describe my intimacy with God?