“Watching you / watching you / every day
mind the course you pursue / Watching you /
watching you / there’s an all-seeing Eye
watching you.” That is the chorus to a hymn
written in 1915 by John M. Henson. The song
is inspired by 2 Chronicles 16:9, a text that
describes God as one whose gaze “runs to
and fro throughout the whole earth, to give
strong support to those whose heart is
blameless toward him.” When I was growing
up, I did not know the connection between the
hymn and the biblical passage mentioned
above. I just recall that the song scared the
life out of me. Memory tells me that it was
sung a lot in the church where I was raised.
Whether or not my recollection is true, I do not
have fond memories of the song. It made me
think of God as a tyrant and oppressor.
But my childhood perspective could not
have been further from the truth about God.
God is the diametrical opposite of tyrannical
and oppressive. Instead, he is the God who
sets us free. From the earliest moments in
Scripture until now, God has been the God of
liberation. He is the only one who has the
power to release us from captivity, and to
restore us to relationship with him. It is only
this liberating God who has the power to lift
humanity out of the mire of sin and disgrace—
to unshackle us from the heretofore
unbreakable bonds of sin—and to put us on
“high places” (Hab. 3:19). Far from being an
agent of oppression, God is instead the
perfect instrument of relief and emancipation.
He watches over us for our eternal good, and
for our rescue.
And God spares no expense in doing so.