The Bible is a book made up of words – as almost all books are. We read the words and we know the general meaning of them as we read, but it really is fascinating to think that God chose specific words to allow us to know something of His nature, His mind, and His will for our lives. Consider for a moment the word ‘incline.’ It is a word found a number of times in our English translations and when it comes to this word, it really is a two-way street. It deals with our response to God, but in a very special way, this word deals with God’s response to man. At the heart of the word ‘incline’ is the idea of “turning toward” or “bowing down.”
Man inclining himself to God – this should be a natural response when we understand who God is and the love He has for us. In dedicating the temple just completed, Solomon reminded the multitudes assembled that not one word of all the good promises God had made to Moses had failed. He then said, “May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments…” (1 Kings 8:57-58). Remembering the precious promises of God, we would do well to request of God that He help us to bow down our hearts to Him. The same word is found in Psalm 119 a total of four times (36,51,112,157). Again, it would make sense for the Psalmist to use this word in connection to the word of God and our need to turn toward God through obedience.
God inclining Himself to man – this is the special thought that must be conveyed when it comes to this word. When children are going through a struggle, how many of us as parents have gotten on our knees, down to their level, and offered our support and care? With that picture in mind, consider the words of Psalm 116:1-2, “I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.” No matter the circumstances, we have a loving Father who cares. Our God is never pictured in the Bible as One aloof or unengaged! The Psalmist said that God “turned His ear toward Him,” or “Bowed His ear in his direction.” Do you have that picture in your mind? How often we get too busy, or preoccupied, or feel the circumstance too trivial for much attention with our children. Aren’t you glad that our heavenly Father is never too busy? He is never preoccupied? He knows our weaknesses and yet always turns His ear toward us? He never tells me, “Get over it!” Instead, He bends toward us as a loving father would to hear, sympathize, and help us with our cares. We serve a loving and compassionate Father who is willing to incline His ear to our prayers. With the Psalmist we should certainly agree, “I love the Lord!”
– Adam Orr