Psalm 91- 10-25-22 1

 Greetings Pray-ers,

I hope you were able to read Psalm 90:1 – 91:1 in your spare time this past week. Did you notice how the first verse of each Psalm “book-ended” the remainder of Psalm 90? Looking through the lens that both of these Psalms were written by Moses, 90:1 tells us of his acknowledgment that:  Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  Regrettably, I am a bit rusty on my English grammar tenses. While 90:1 sounds like a recognition of what the Lord did, it also sounds “passive” in how it’s communicated.  Perhaps that is why we see the gravity of the remainder of this Psalm. Yet, with 91:1 being at the end of Psalm 90 (keep in mind the original texts did not have verse & chapter numbers) one might now see Moses going from a passive third person mindset to an active first-person mindset. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Let’s look for a moment at what it means to dwell in God’s shelter or rest in His shadow.  Exodus 33:22 states: When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. I know the greater meaning of this verse is about the Lord protecting Moses. And yet, when I look at this passage, I visualize in my mind what this might look like.  If I’m hidden in the cleft of the rock, I see nothing around me except for what is directly in front of me. How important does it become for us (especially those called to prayer) to get away from the distractions around us? Only then can we spend quality time with our Lord. This is critical because to proceed to 91:2 how else can we truly understand what the Lord does for us when we rest in His presence.

{Moses} will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Consider for a moment the experiences Moses had. He grew up in Pharaoh’s household; he became a herder of sheep, and then a herder of man. He saw, heard and participated in the miraculous: parting of the Red Sea, manna & quail, water from rocks, 10 Commandments, talked with God on a regular basis, and the list goes on. He experienced the harshness of reality through acts of disobedience (his, the Israelites) while they traversed the desert lands.  But through it all, he knew who his Lord was. He saw how his Lord brought relief when needed. He heard God’s voice! He was used in the miraculous – ex: when Moses held up the bronze snake – ref. Numbers 21:4-9.

He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. This was Moses’ confession. This past weekend I traveled to Nebraska. Weather “fronts” also like to make their way across the country. Needless to say, some of our flights were bumpy. A few reading this are seasoned flyers who are not unnerved by anything. Others may refuse to fly at all. The rest of us, well we’re somewhere in the middle. That’s me. When flying through storms or significant turbulence, I often pray, “O Lord, make this stop! Please! Please! Please!” Or I will recite Psalm 23 all the while….gripping the person’s hand next to me! It’s not so bad if your seatmate is family or a “rugged construction worker”; but, sometimes it’s a little gray-haired lady and I must profusely apologize. On this trip, I prayerfully focused on 91:1&2 (honest!) of dwelling in God’s shelter. While this did not take away all the “nervousness”, I did find peace in allowing myself to fully connect with the power of God’s presence. He was my refuge!

Most of us will never face anything remotely close to what Moses experienced. I would hazard a guess that most of us reading this have had moments or events in our lives that we can only attribute to our Lord. Perhaps moments of correction or encouragement; perhaps events where we’ve seen God’s power or glory in a powerful way, and all praise must go to Him. Unfortunately, just like yesterday’s newspaper, these memories often get tossed aside, and over time we forget. I say this not to condemn but to recognize that we are all bombarded with news and information 24/7. It has become almost normal to forget what happened yesterday. We don’t spend the time needed to “think on these things”. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Phil. 4:8

I wonder if the not “thinking on things” could be a significant reason why believers fear, worry or are anxious about the tomorrows. We know and say biblical truths: “God is in control. Be anxious for nothing. God knows His plans for me. He loves me.” And yet, when trials come, do we often hear ourselves or others saying, “Lord, why have you forsaken me?” Has the Lord forsaken us? NO! But, being honest, sometimes it feels like He has. During times like these it is paramount to run into the cleft of the rock, into the fortress of the Lord our God. He is our place of safety and refuge. The Lord is not offended by our worries. His shoulders are strong enough to bear our kvetching. I believe He patiently waits for us turn to Him. Graciously He reminds us of the many things He has done in our lives. As we begin to listen to that still small voice within us, we can be comforted in the realization of God’s promise: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Do we recognize the power of that promise?

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