Psalm 91: Loving protection

Who looks after you?

For the psalmist, and for any Christian, the answer - above all other answers to this question - is God...

Whoever 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.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

So much in these first few lines!  Various pictures here of God's protection for those who know him...

There's the idea of God as a dwelling place.  A safe home to rest in.  We can be at peace and relax knowing that we live in God.

Then there's the idea of God as refuge and fortress.  Like a strong castle to be defended by.  We can trust that nothing can overcome God's strength or his plans for us.

And thirdly there's the idea of God as a mother bird spreading her wings out over her young.  And again the military pictures of 'shield' and 'rampart'.  It's about protection.

God wants to be our Home, our Safe Place, our Protector, Defender, Saviour and Comforter.

So we can be fearless...

You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

It's not that Christians are immune from the struggles and suffering of this world.  Far from it!  Sometimes Christians suffer some of the worst torture and killing simply for their faith in Jesus.  Even today.  Just visit Open Doors to find out what's happening around the world and to pray!

The point is that even when this world does its worst to us, as Christians we can know that it will never be the end of us!  The worst evils of this world don't have the power to take us away from God or to take our eternal life away from us.  In the New Testament Paul says...

Romans 8:35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is the reality (and the experience the more its believed) for those who trust and follow Jesus.  It's not a promise to get us OUT OF suffering but it is a promise to get us THROUGH it and out the other side.  Always!  Even through death!

Some have said, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger" but for Christians even that which kills us can't stop us becoming stronger still.  There's really nothing to fear if God's promises are true.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

It's not a promise that this life will be easy.  We know this because of how this last part of the psalm points us to the life of Jesus...

1. How he was tempted by Satan:

Matthew 4:6 
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

2. How he was the "Serpent Crusher" in ancient prophecy, who would be "struck":

Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” 

3. How he was seemingly destroyed but ultimately victorious at the cross: 

Matthew 27:46
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

So it's not a promise that we won't suffer.  But it is a promise that suffering won't have the final say.  Because Jesus suffered and even experienced the absence of God the Father so that we would never have to.  Jesus was ultimately victorious over death and so will we be!  And God is always with us.  Our Saviour, Protector and Defender.  To the end.  And then forever!

If you know this is true, it changes the way you face the troubles of today and the unknowns of tomorrow.  God's loving protection is far more than we could find anywhere else.

And if you don't know it's true yet, what's holding you back?  What questions do you have?  What hesitation about trusting Jesus?  Should it stop you asking, exploring, praying, testing to see if it's true?!  Surely not!  Go for it!

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