Focal Passage: Psalm 91:1-4, 9-11, 14-16
Van Morris of Mount Washington, Ky., told of a visit to the zoo with his daughter and grandchildren during which they visited the orangutan exhibit. The only thing separating them from these creatures was 20-feet-tall panes of thick glass. Morris said that his 2-year-old grandson was at first amused by the orangutans. Then one of the hairy beasts suddenly began to beat on the glass. The grandson leapt into the arms of his mother, crying, “I scared!”
His mother tenderly took him, placed his little hand on the glass, and showed him that the glass shielded him from the animal, so there was nothing to fear. Afterwards, any time Trevor seemed uncertain, his mom would simply say, “Remember the glass.”
The anonymous psalmist of today’s text wrote of this same truth declaring that God protects those who trust in the shelter of His protection. I know that it is hard to relinquish control and place yourself in the refuge He provides for you. That is especially true in this high-octane, post-Christian culture. When Christianity is being broadly marginalized and Christians are being increasingly antagonized because of their faith, you must listen closely to the message of Psalm 91. The psalmist writes that as an individual committed to your Sovereign God — you can live in “the shelter of God’s protection.”
You can live in the shelter of God’s protection because He is reliable (91:1-4). The psalmist lays out his thesis statement in verse 1, “The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.” He affirms that the Lord is reliable and can be trusted to protect those who acknowledge and trust Him as their intimate, personal, one and only god as seen in “my refuge … my fortress, my God.” He goes on to say that God is reliable to free you from the hunter’s net of those who would ensnare you and deliver you from the destructive plague. His imagery depicts a person as totally dependent, as little birds in a nest. When you surrender to this truth, “He will cover you with His feathers and you can take refuge under His wings.” God is reliable and will be a protective shield to those who take shelter in His protection.
You can live in the shelter of God’s protection because He is robust (91:9-11). The psalmist exhorts you to trust God because He is strong enough to protect you against all perils. He says that if you have made God your dwelling place that God will protect you in all your ways. To clarify, we must remember that the psalmist is not saying that God will never allow trouble in your life but that when trouble is allowed in the house of the righteous that it will be redemptive in purpose and ultimate outcome. You will recognize Satan’s misuse of the text in the wilderness temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:6). The text says that you can live in the shelter of God’s protection according to God’s purposes because He is strong enough to protect you against anything or anyone.
You can live in the shelter of God’s protection because He is responsive (91:14-16). God’s protection is a response to your love and devotion to Him. As a matter of fact — these verses are themselves God’s response stated as a conditional promise to the faithful believer. God says, If he is lovingly devoted to Me and if he knows My name and if he calls out to Me then … I will deliver, protect, answer, be with, honor, satisfy, and show him My salvation.”
So, when living in this culture causes you to cry out, “I’m scared!” just “Remember the glass!”
— Pressnell is senior pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, Mount Carmel.