What Does it Mean to Cling to God?

What Does it Mean to Cling to God? - Grace Fox

My experience in a church nursery gives a good visual. A nervous toddler threw her arms around her mom’s neck and hung on to the one she knew loved her most.

What does it mean to cling to God? Perhaps my experience in a church nursery gives a good visual.

I was volunteering one Sunday when a young couple came to check in their toddler for the first time. The father signed the child into our program while the mother prepared to hand her to one of the volunteers. The little girl immediately sensed that something was up, so she threw her arms around her mom’s neck and hung on for dear life to the one she knew loved her most.

An online dictionary says the word “cling” means “to hold fast” or “to adhere closely.” That’s exactly what the toddler did to her mother. She held fast.

And that’s what Joshua told Israel—the children of God—to do to their heavenly Father:

“…But you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day,” he said. (Joshua 23:8 ESV)

“Cling to God” Means to Forsake All Other Gods

In the King James Version, writers used the word “cleave” rather than “cling.” The same word is used in Genesis 2:24:

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Here, the word denotes forsaking others to focus our love on one and only one. That’s the same idea Joshua had in mind when he told the Israelites to cling to God only.

At the time he spoke these words, Joshua was elderly and knew he would die soon. He called all of Israel’s leaders together and reminded them of God’s faithfulness to them over the years. Then he exhorted them to love God and remain faithful to Him. They were to forsake all other lesser and false gods in lieu of Yahweh.

Cling to God Because He Deserves Our Loyalty

Joshua mentioned a particular aspect of God’s faithfulness several times in the verses surrounding Joshua 23:8. That is—the fact that God fought their battles on their behalf. He’d promised them the land, and then He delivered by going before them and taking out the enemies. By clinging to Him, the people would be giving God the undivided loyalty He deserved for being their mighty and invincible warrior.

At the same time Joshua exhorted the people to cling to the true and living God, he warned them not to cling to the customs of the survivors of the enemy nations. If they chose to compromise by falling into sinful thoughts and behaviors, they would break the covenant relationship God had established with them and they would pay the consequences.

Joshua said,

6Be very careful to follow all the instructions written in the Book of the Law of Moses… Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. 7Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or worship them. 8But be faithful to the Lord your God as you have done until now.” (Joshua 23:6-8)

So – no compromise. Love God only and remain faithful to Him.

How Can We Cling to God Today?

How do we cling to God in everyday life? First, by reading and obeying God’s Word. Joshua told the Israelites to be careful to follow everything written in Moses’ book of the law and to not deviate from it. We, too, are to be careful to obey and not deviate from God’s words. Let’s dive into the Scriptures, explore what they meant to the people in whose day they were written, and discover how their principles still apply today.

Second, we cling to God through worshiping Him alone. We acknowledge Him as the only true God and refuse to listen to the voices of lesser gods vying for our affection. Money, material possessions, power, position, and even social media – none of these things deserve our devotion. Only God—the One who created us, and who saves, heals, and sustains us—deserves our love, praise, and worship.

Third, we cling to God by refusing to compromise. As our society slips further and further from God’s standards, our human bent becomes expert at justifying sin. We become masters at making excuses for doing what we want to do rather than doing what we know we ought to do. But clinging to, or cleaving to God means we stand firm on His truth even when it’s inconvenient or costly.

And finally, we cling to God by surrendering ourselves to Him. We let Him fill us with His Holy Spirit. We let Him take control of our desires rather than letting our desires take control over us. We let Him lead us in the way He wants us to go rather than pursuing our own path.

An expert in religious law asked Jesus, “What is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” (Matthew 22:35) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”

Jesus’ words, spoken two thousand years ago, remain true today. We’re to cling to the Lord with everything in us. Let’s hang onto Jesus and His teaching with all our might. This is the way to life and victory in our faith journey.

May I Pray For You?

“Father, thank You for teaching us the importance of clinging to You. Help us love You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give us the faith and strength to follow hard after You and to live surrendered to You. Everything else falls into place when we keep You in first place. Help us do that and do it well. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Know you are loved,


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.