Some time has passed since last writing about Psalm 91, so I will do a mini recap of what has been shared already. I’m interested in the concept of “bookends” within scriptures – thoughts written down to encircle greater thoughts. And yet, the “bookends” themselves become what is most critical. The example I shared came out of Psalm 90:1 and 91:1. Here we read “Lord, you have been our dwelling place…” and “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High….” These two verses are the front and back ends of 16 verses telling us of how God’s people recognized they had sinned and deserved punishment. But, 91:1 tells us of the hope for the one who rests in God’s presence. Now, we see another reminder of this same hope as we look at the next set of scriptures of 91:9-13.
If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord,
Who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you,
No disaster will come near you tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
To guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands,
So that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
You will trample the great lion and the serpent.
We can definitely apply Psalm 91’s verses personally (to ourselves or to our loved ones); but, can we see how they also are applicable to the Jewish readers of the Old Testament and to our own country today? I recently touched briefly on how the FEAR which is so prevalent today might be a type of plague or pestilence alluded to in Verse 6 which states: not the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, not the plague that destroys at midday. William Shakespeare wrote in Romeo & Juliet – “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”! In other words, the name of something does not affect what it really is. We might think of pestilence and plagues as fatal diseases and sicknesses – which they are. But, if we look beyond our own understanding, do we see the debilitating effects FEAR has on people as individuals and as a nation? FEAR, like any serious illness, renders a person powerless.
As we read the first couple of lines in this next section, we see the HOPE and the confidence we can have when we rest in God’s presence; when we make the Most High our dwelling; when we take refuge in our Lord. How incredibly encouraging it is to know that no harm will befall (me), no disaster will come near (my home)!! Do I still believe these words when a hurricane is forming and on track to hit the town in which I live? Yes, pretty confident, well about 90%. Do I continue to exude confidence now that the hurricane has made landfall and has left an abundance of devastation around me. The temptation could be, “Lord, your word says……., why did you allow this disaster to come here!” But as time goes by I begin to realize that no harm DID befall my family and we came through the storm safely. A multitude of inconveniences – absolutely. But we were safe; our homes were spared. I recognize that not everyone has that same story. However, I do believe that we CAN see God’s protection or handiwork even in the messiness of life……..IF we choose to see it.
As we proceed to verses 11 & 12, For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone, we see God’s power and authority. And, we also see where the enemy is using God’s word to tempt and thwart our Lord & Savior, Jesus/Yeshua, before his ministry even begins. It is such an oxymoron when reading in Matthew 4:6 that the enemy (Satan) is using God’s words to tempt God’s Son to “throw himself down” off the temple’s highest point and then proceeds to quote Psalm 91:11, 12 verbatim. We read that Yeshua does not fall for the trap by stating in Matthew 4:7: “It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
The enemy continues to do this today. We see this in our churches with the incredible diversity of how scripture is viewed and taught. The Body of Christ is all over the place in its interpretation of God’s Word – from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal and everything in between. Could this be why there’s upwards of 200 denominations under the Protestant umbrella in the US? Could this be why there are 60+ versions of the Bible? In recent years we’ve seen public divisiveness in mainstream denominations, such as Southern Baptist and Methodist. I guess there’s a reason why at family get-togethers, religion (and politics) is so often “verboten” (forbidden).
We need to be daily prayerful that the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9, 10 does NOT come to pass in our lives: (The Lord) He said, “Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn and be healed.’” The enemy is still in the business of chaos and confusion. We MUST prayerfully desire for our eyes, ears and spirits to be open to receive whatever it is the Lord our God is revealing to His people.
James 2:19 states: You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder. They know that God is Sovereign!!!!! Scripture tells us this.
1. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them. He (Jesus) gave them (demons) permission… Mark 5:12, 13a
2. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
Why am I sharing all this when discussing a passage of scripture that is supposed to brings us comfort and peace? This is a psalm we go to when loved ones are in need of a touch from the Lord; it brings us hope. That is why I want to bring us back to the importance of these “bookends” of scripture; this continual reminder of God’s best for us.
1. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” Psalm 91:1, 2
2. If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near you tent. Psalm 91:9, 10
If I leave you with anything today, I hope it is recognizing the critical importance of living our lives as though the Triune God is living with us…….because He is – each and every day! I once heard someone say, “The enemy has had generations, thousands of years to study mankind.” Do we really think we’ll “outsmart” the author of confusion and chaos? Many of us have found ourselves in spiritual warfare, in battle with dark forces. Don’t get me wrong, there may be a time or place for this. However, I have found in my own experiences that we take on battles we were not meant to fight. Do you remember the sons of Sceva in Acts 19:13-16? I challenge you to read it. “Jesus I know…but who are you?”
As prayer warriors and intercessors, may we find ourselves intentionally making the Lord our continual dwelling place, our refuge and our fortress. The enemy may know our weaknesses, but God’s ways are far greater.
1. (The Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9
2. “Have you not known; have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; and they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).