“God remembered Noah.” (Genesis 8:1)
Does that statement strike you as strange? God is omniscient. He knows everything from the names of all the stars to the number of hairs on our head. He doesn’t forget. So how could He remember?
Our church is reading through Genesis, and I am once again using one of Warren Wiersbe’s brief commentaries as an aide: Be Basic (Genesis 1-11): Believing the Simple Truth of God’s Word. He had some helpful notes on this passage.
The word “remember” in Genesis 8:1 doesn’t mean to call something to mind that may have been forgotten. God can’t forget anything because He knows the end from the beginning (Kindle location 2006).
Wiersbe uses as an example Hebrews 10:17: “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” That doesn’t mean He somehow employs divine amnesia. Rather, He “doesn’t hold our sins against us” any more when we believe on Christ. They are no longer on our account.
So what does it mean that God remembered Noah?
It means “to pay attention to, to fulfill a promise and act on behalf of somebody” (Kindle location 2006).
“To pay attention to.” Sometimes it feels like God is far off. But He’s not. He has promised us His presence. He’s promised to meet all our needs. He’s shown us His love in hundreds of ways.
“To fulfill a promise.” “‘To remember’ implies a previous commitment made by God and announces the fulfillment of that commitment” (Kindle Location 2013). When God “remembers” a promise, He’s not thinking, as we do sometimes with our promises, “Oh yeah! I told them I’d do that. I guess I better get around to it.” Rather, when He “remembers” a promise, He’s saying, “Now is the time!”
“To act on behalf of somebody.” The ESV Study Bible notes echo this: “When the Bible says that God ‘remembers’ someone or His covenant with someone, it indicates He’s about to take action for that person’s welfare” (p. 64). Though He acts on our behalf every day, when He “remembers” us in this way, He’s about to do something special.
In Genesis 8, Noah and his family had been in the ark for over a year. There were 40 days and nights of rain, the flood waters cresting, then slowly receding, then the land drying up enough for everyone to come out. We don’t know how they felt or got along for all that time. But it’s possible they could have felt forgotten or wondered how long this situation was going to go on. Yet God knew all along the time He had set for Noah and his family to disembark and start a new life.
In Psalm 77, Asaph writes of a time in which his “soul refuses to be comforted,” and being “so troubled that I cannot speak.” He got so low in spirit that he asked himself:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”(7-9).
But then he took himself in hand, took his thoughts captive, and directed them to what He knew of God:
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders
you have made known your might among the peoples (11-14).
In Psalm 42, another psalmist experienced a low point.
I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?” (9-11).
Not only did he “feel” forgotten, but others added fuel to the fire.
But he talks to himself, just as we have to do sometimes:
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God (11).
Whenever we feel forsaken, when It seems God is talking a long time to answer our prayers and come to our aid, we can remind ourselves of His love, His character, His promises, His past works in the Bible, and the way He has worked in our own lives. In His perfect timing, He will especially meet our need, come to our aid, and fulfill His promise.
Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry. For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love. (Psalm 106:44-45)
(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Senior Salon, Remember Me Monday, Purposeful Faith,
Tell His Story, InstaEncouragement, Recharge Wednesday,
Worth Beyond Rubies, Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement,
Grace and Truth, Blogger Voices Network)
I enjoyed reading these thoughts about remembrance. I am reading the book of Job right now and I could apply your post to my reading. It seems as if God had allowed Satan to curse Job, then forgotten all about him. Job and his friends and advisors argued while God was silent. Of course, God did not forget Job. He was with him through all of his trials. The verse from Lamentations is the perfect way to end. The Lord is indeed good!
I just saw a post this morning saying that when we think God isn’t working, that’s the very time He is, behind the scenes. That makes delays and seeming silence more bearable.
Thank you for this encouragement today! Yes, God always remembers us, whether we’re feeling remembered at the moment or not. Excellent scriptures here that spoke to me. Thanks, Barbara, and hope you’re doing well.
I’m feeling much better, thank you!
I think God waits until we have a realization that we need Him, that we really want Him to turn His full attention on us, to give Him permission to come into our lives fully. I’ve always told my boys, “God’s not like your mama. He waits for you to ask Him to help you.” I so enjoyed the discussion of “remembered.” I loved word histories!
I do, too. I’m very much a word nerd. 🙂 I just read something this morning that said when it looks like God is silent or inactive on our behalf, that’s the very time He’s working on the situation behind the scenes. That makes a delay much more bearable. And I think you’re right that sometimes He waits for us to realize our need. That makes us both more dependent on Him and more appreciative.
I read your comment on my FFF…i’m so sorry to hear you’ve been in the hospital!! I hope you are doing better now. I am praying for you Barbara.
I am, thank you so much.
We can indeed feel that God in His silence has forgotten us, especially when an answer to our deepest heartfelt prayers goes unanswered (although I suspect that the answer was wait for my timing in the situation) for forty years!
But as we grow & mature in our relationship with Him, we know that He never stops working out His plan & will for our lives & the lives of our dear loved ones.
Very encouraging word today Barbara,
Thank you, Jennifer. I agree, sometimes what seems a “no” is actually just not the right timing.
Seeing in previous comment that you have been hospitalized??? Hope all is well now.
And I did appreciate this post. It’s easy to feel forgotten when God is silent.
Yes, I was in the hospital a couple of days with atrial fibrillation. I had an ablation three years ago that was supposed to fix that, so I am frustrated it’s happening again. Some people have to have a second ablation, but I am sure hoping that’s not the case. I’m waiting on follow-up dr. appointments to see what the next steps should be. But I am feeling much better than I was. Thank you for asking. 🙂
Barbara, I loved reading the notes from your ESV Bible > “… it indicates He’s about to take action for that person’s welfare” This post was so encouraging this morning. Blessings!
PS – Hope you are feeling well!
I’m feeling much better, thank you! Waiting on follow-up dr. appointments to see what the next steps should be.
Understanding these definitions of “remember” is so helpful, Barbara. Thanks for laying it out so clearly and in context. How we define words does make a difference in how we understand scripture.
I often puzzled over that word, and these other readings really helped open it up for me. It’s neat to think of God waiting for the right moment and then saying, “Now!”
such a great reminder of how God remembers. I love the original definitions and oh how I love Psalm 42 and the encouragement it offers when life is hard and we feel forgotten. Thank you for these words!
Thank you, Mariel. Psalm 42 spoke so much to my heart, too.
Amen! God will never leave us or forsake us :).
Amen! Blessed truth!
Such great comfort, thank you. “Remember” always does strike me as odd coming from God, and this makes sense and shows His tremendous care. Praise God He is attentive to us, we can trust Him not to overlook us!
Amen! His eyes are always on us, and He’ll act when the time is right.
What reassurance it brings to know that God “remembers” us – He will fulfill His promise to us. I take comfort in this right now, during these turbulent times, that God has not forgotten us and will be true to His purpose to save His bride, the church. Thank you for much needed encouragement.
Thank you, Bev. Praise Him that He never forgets to be gracious. I pray others are drawn to their need for that grace with all that’s going on.
My church chose Genesis as our Sunday School material this year. Isn’t it a wonderful, foundational book. I have enjoyed teaching it. I love how you not only provided scripture references for God remembering His people but you also shared God’s people remembering His works. I think that is the key. So many are overwhelmed and distressed now during our pandemic and political unrest. It’s easy to feel God has forsaken us. If we would take a trip down memory lane to recall the ways He has showed up for us we too will find ourselves offering up a yet praise. Thank you for this awesome reminder.
It’s a great book, isn’t it? Whenever I start Genesis, I think of the same stories I am already familiar with. But God always shows me something new or reminds me of something I had forgotten or just needed a renewed emphasis on.
I’m praying He will use the events of this year to turn hearts to Himself.
Thank you for this beautiful word study! I loved this especially: “Rather, when He “remembers” a promise, He’s saying, “Now is the time!” Amen, may I trust Him more for His perfect timing. I pray that your initial ablation will hold fast, and you continue to feel better. I had an ablation this summer for a faulty Occipital Nerve, and I am waiting for mine to take hold also. (Or to let go, whichever is more accurate!) Blessings to you.
Thank you, Bettie. I didn’t know they did ablations on that! I hope yours accomplishes what it’s supposed to.
Thank you for this reassurance today. By the end of your post, I felt a deep peace in knowing that God remembers and is always with me.
He remembers. Thank you for delving into this phrase for us, Barbara. He acts. He cares. He pays attention. He fulfills his promises. ❤️ He loves us.
What powerful reassurances for our lives, Barbara! I’m inspired in this space, as always!
I like this, and Noah means rest, while we wait. Wish I had always known that .Great word study.
Love this definition og God remembered. And so thankful that God really does remember us. He pays attention and keeps his promises. Great post!
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What a great question and your great collection of answers. Thank you.
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