“The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck
Shone round him o’er the dead…”
(Casablanca, Dorothea Hemans, 1826)
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing…”
(The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe, 1845)
“Stood there and watched you walk away…”
(Haunted, Taylor Swife, 2010)
“How to Handle Getting Stood Up on a Date”
(Glamour Magazine, 2014, 2011, 2004, 1998)
The French captain’s son stood resolutely on the burning deck until he was finally consumed in the furious flames. Though Edgar Allan Poe claims he stood there for a long while, I suspect that in reality he soon returned to his bed. Taylor Swift stood there as her lover walked away but one assumes that she managed to replace him quite quickly. The readers of Glamour who keep getting stood up, well, enough said.
There really ought to be different words in English for stood. One can scarcely compare my different examples of standing. One shouldn’t. I won’t stand for it.
In the Lord’s language there are indeed words to describe two different ways of standing. One can stand firm like the boy on the burning deck; one might say, stand like a pillar. Or one can stand there sadly like Taylor Swift, ready to be quickly distracted by someone else.
Let’s see a Biblical example of each kind of standing.
You stand this day all of you before the Lord your God that you should enter into a covenant…that He may establish you today for a people to himself…
And it came to pass at the end of two years that Pharaoh dreamed; and, behold, he stood on the river.
When the Israelites stood before God to establish a special covenant, it was for all time. In fact, the Bible makes clear that this covenant is being established not only with those Israelites who were standing there, but also with all the future generations not yet born. (Deuteronomy 29:13-14). In other words, a permanent standing. The Hebrew word used for standing is YaTZaV.
However, when Pharaoh dreamed that he stood on the Nile, not only did he not remain there for long, but it was a dream. The Hebrew word used for stand is the far more common OMeD.
The word OMeD is also used here, implying a lack of firmness:
And the magicians were unable to stand before Moses…
However, when the standing is more that of standing like a rock until one’s task is complete, the Torah uses the word YaTZaV.
For instance, “Behold I stand by the water well…” (Genesis 24:13) said Eliezer as he prayed for success in finding the woman who’d become the second matriarch, the wife of Isaac.
The same root word as that for standing firmly, YaTZaV, is used for a pillar that stands immovably forever, such as the pillar that Lot’s wife turned into.
But his wife looked back from behind him,
and she became a pillar (NeTZiV) of salt.
Knowing that there are two different ways of standing helps us translate our spirit into our posture. When I stand in line at the check-out, I hope it’s not for long and so I don’t root myself to the ground. However, when I stand up for principle, I want to be utterly immovable and just as importantly, I want to appear to others as utterly immovable.
Deciding which principles one will stand up for unyieldingly is vital for successful living. It allows one to know in advance which battles are worth fighting and which are better averted.
Some of those battles arise from the political and cultural maelstroms that swirl around the foundations of your family and livelihood. The best way to acquire a Biblical perspective on these is through my audio CD program Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel. The two CDs and study guide explore nine verses in Genesis that lay out struggles that repeat continually through history and which roil the times in which we live. Understanding that struggle allows you and yours to take your stand.