In ancient times, watchers guarded cities in the dark of night, surveying their territory from their posts on walls or high towers. Their job was critical: Watch and listen for danger, and then warn the rest of us! Old Testament writers note with admiration how, like God, watchers ensured the safety of people in their care. (See Psalm 127:1 or Ezekiel 3:17-21.) Their role was also a metaphor for prophets who warned people about dangers of which they were unaware. Prophets also watched, listened and spoke about what was yet to come. Rulers and residents owed watchmen their well-being.
Today we live under the watchful care of women and men in a variety of professions, whose seeing and hearing on our behalf is profoundly difficult and critically necessary. As you read these words, members of our armed forces—patrolling in ships and planes, but also scanning computer screens—are looking for the slightest evidence of danger that might come from anywhere. Law enforcement personnel ride through our streets every day and night, watching and listening but also looking for patterns of behavior that might deserve further attention.
Watchers and listeners also scan the world to predict weather, to ensure the efficient working of intricate technologies and to ascertain the locations of ships, trains, automobiles, satellites and planes as they do their work. Financial planners track the movement of investments on behalf of their clients. Safety camera monitors stand ready to react to home emergencies. Hospital medical staff ensure that their patients’ vital signs remain steady.
Each of these people deserves gratitude. Like eyeglasses or hearing aids, they are one way in which God answers our prayers for safety, good health and overall well-being.
Thanks, watchers, for your looking, listening and warning!
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