Some ancient Hebrew words have great staying power!
That is certainly true of the Hebrew word bitachon (בטחון – pronounced bee-ta-hōn).
This word is used a lot in modern Hebrew today, but carries a deeply spiritual meaning in the Hebrew Scriptures.
“Trust (בִּטְח֥וּ) in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” (Isaiah 26:4)
In the verse above, the Hebrew word for trust is bitchu, which is a command (to you plural).
It is associated with an everlasting Rock.
This gives bitachon a sense of trusting in superior strength, a source of confidence, security, and safety.
In Israel today, safety is a priority, and security personnel are everywhere.
The brave people — not the police, but those who guard synagogues, schools, malls, the post office, and ensure a terror-free El Al flight are all bitachon.
Misrad haBitachon is the Hebrew name for the Ministry of Defense and Sherut haBitachon is the Israel Security Service.
The Hebrew word bitachon is also used for the warranty of an electrical appliance — which is a legal form of security.
However, in the days of Biblical Israel, we see an ever-present supernatural security that called the people to put their faith (emunah) and trust (bitachon) in the transcendent Creator and act on it.
The God of the Bible is our God today, so let’s see what God is asking us to do through the word — bitachon.
What’s the Difference Between Faith and Trust?
The sages of Judaism thought a lot about faith and trust, making a clear distinction.
Generally speaking, they say that faith (emunah) is the knowledge that God created and sustains all of creation.
This is known as the first of the Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith:
“I believe by complete faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is the Creator and Guide for all created beings. He alone made, makes, and will make all that is created,” as written by the Rambam, also known as Maimonides, an influential Jewish sage of the Middle Ages.
Bitachon, on the other hand, is acting in accordance with one’s emunah (faith) and knowing that underlying our actions is the Rock, who has our best interests at heart, no matter what happens.
A master of trust or ba’al bitachon, as the Jewish sages say, understands that there are no personal guarantees of a positive outcome in any situation.
Even though the world is full of evil, injustice, betrayals, lies, and misunderstandings a ba’al bitachon understands that regardless of the short-term outcome, the final outcome of our efforts will be positive because through God all things are done l’tov (for the good).
So, you might encourage someone to “trust in the LORD,” but unless they are confident of His goodness, His character, and His working “all things together for the good of those who love Him are called to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), they would not be able to trust Him completely when things go wrong.
Trusting that God is in charge of the ultimate outcome and not ourselves or anyone else is the cure for anxiety, as Rabbi Shaul (the Apostle Paul) learned.
Though he suffered flogging, a shipwreck, and imprisonment, nothing could pull Paul away from his faith, not even the threat of death because his thought process went like this:
If I die, Messiah will be exalted!
If I live, Messiah will be exalted!
While imprisoned, he wrote to the new churches, “I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Messiah Yeshua will abound on account of me.” (Philippians 1:20-26)
Paul did not rely on himself; he relied on the Lord for his strength.
This is how the Prophet Zechariah and all other anointed men and women operated: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
Bitachon in Times of Trouble
When we face roadblocks and can’t figure out the way ahead, we can cry out to the Lord, as King David did:
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.” (Psalm 118:6)
When family, friends, and people in his kingdom turned against King David, he found Someone who would not let him down: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” (Psalm 118:8)
Judaism teaches that when a person is in trouble, his first efforts need to be those that honour God.
Instead of rushing straight in to try to solve the problem in a human way, humility calls for prayer (tefilah) and good deeds (mitzvot) first, thus declaring that God is sovereign despite the bad news.
Bitachon for Life
This awareness of God’s sovereignty brings us to a Jewish trait based on bitachon — love of life.
Have you noticed how people in Israel can move on with hope and joy even after experiencing the most horrendous evil (terrorist bombings, stabbings, etc.)?
It has to do with the theological awareness that everything belongs to God, and therefore we cannot assume that anything belongs to us, even life itself.
They have an appreciation of life and of living within each moment.
They have a gratitude to God for the big things and the very simple things.
When asked, “How are you?” they answer, “Baruch HaShem!” — “Blessed be the Name [of the Lord]!”
Bitachon as a Blessing
“Blessed is the man who trusts (batach) in the Lord (YHVH) and whose trust (mibtach) is the Lord (YHVH).” (Jeremiah 17:7)
In the Hebrew, batach and mibtach are both forms of the Lord trust (bitachon).
We could also render it security.
If your security is in the Lord, you are blessed!