By Edward Thal /
Psalm 91 is a glorious record of God’s special oversight and protection for those yielded completely to Him. It is referenced by Satan as applying to Jesus Christ (Luke 4:10-11). It does, but it just as surely applies to anyone walking with God as one of the “many brethren” being conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:9). A disciple of Christ enjoys the same benefits as the Master.
With that thought in mind, read the Psalm slowly and imagine it not as poetic hyperbole but as practical reality:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress,my God; in Him will I trust.
Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He hall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust:
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side,
and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thy eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge,
even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee,
neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder ,
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
These words are enormously comforting to believers as a statement of general intent by a powerful authority committed to their protection; in the conclusion to the Psalm the sentiment becomes intensely personal and passionate, and it is here that we glimpse God’s delight in those who purposefully set Him first in their hearts.
Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he hath known My Name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him:
I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation.
To live in this realm is to experience a dimension that many dream of but few believe is practically possible: daily joy flowing from God’s abiding presence and unimaginable peace that is a consequence of His tangible sustenance and protection. It must be imbibed; it cannot be bought or earned. It grows out of a close personal relationship, not a contractual obligation.
The protection afforded by such personal intimacy with God is echoed as a possibility by the prophet Malachi who extends the experience to a corporate level:
Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another:
and the Lord hearkened, and heard it,
and a book of remembrance was written before Him
for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His Name.
And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels;
and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
As a concluding thought it must be acknowledged that God’s people are not immune to hardships woven into the fabric of a creation groaning under the curse of separation from the Creator following the disaster in Eden. Even when we are reunited with Him by faith in Jesus Christ we live in a world that is hostile to God and the consequences we suffer for our disaffiliation may range from mere discomfort to active persecution and even death. But life in the bubble of God’s superintending presence means nothing can touch us that is contrary to His intention to conform us to the image of Christ: whether it be an experience of good or evil it comes from the hand of a loving Father who has a plan and a purpose in mind for each of us that is more glorious than we can possibly imagine.
The Apostle Paul clearly rested in this assurance. Writing to Philemon from a Roman jail where his incarceration would ultimately lead to his execution, Paul introduces himself not as a captive of the Emperor but as a prisoner of Jesus Christ! May our vision be as unclouded and our hearts be as full of joy and peace as we abide under the shadow of the Almighty.