Posts Tagged ‘fear’

I initially wrote this in response to a question posed by one of the women in a Bible class I taught a couple years ago.

 Psalm 91

1     He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2     I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3     Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4     He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5     You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6     nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7     A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8     You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9     If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the Lord, who is my refuge—
10     then no harm will befall 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 upon 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 upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16     With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

v     Why do you think someone might think that God does not keep His promises? Some say, “People suffer, even people who love God and in our eyes serve Him well.” or “We pray and pray and He doesn’t seem to rescue us.”

 

Sometimes when we read scripture and it seems contradictory we can be sure of one of two things. God’s Word is inerrant in the original text so either our translation is in err or our understanding is in err because God cannot err. His Word is true and infallible, but we as fallible beings do err in our dealings with His infallible Word. So when we inspect this scripture that has brought hope to  millions, we will look at the context of the time of the author, who the author is addressing, what it meant to the first receivers of the song and what is the meaning of the text for us today.

 

v     When reading Scripture that seems contradictory, what are some things we can do to resolve the doubt? How might you study the passage?

 First consider the context of the passage then ask yourself some questions: 

Who is being addressed?

What were their circumstances?

 What was the orignal understanding at the time?

 What is God telling us today?

 

 Context: This Psalm was composed by Moses at the beginning of the 38 years of wilderness wandering, it was also during this time that the Pentateuch was written, the Law, much of which were rules intended to preserve the nation.  Paul says if it were not for the Law I would not have known what sin was. The Law reveals our depravity. And the nation of Israel was walking through that revelation and subsequent guilt from rebellion towards God.

 

 

  

v     Why is it vital that I believe God is Sovereign in relation to His promises?

 

 

 We have looked at God’s sovereignty and how important that truth is. Because if I am not convince that God is sovereign, then His promises will mean nothing to me. In fact I might even observe that God doesn’t keep His promises because my understanding of God is superimposed with my experience with man. Man fails, doesn’t keep promises and really has no power to ensure that any promise is kept. We wrongly transfer those weaknesses of man onto God, but God is not limited as man is. He is perfect love, complete, lacking nothing. The promises of God are identical with His character, to us as temporal beings, they are a revelation of the character of the Most High.

 

Even John Calvin at the time of severe persecution of the Protestants in Scotland created liturgical versions of this Psalm as a comfort. How did he find comfort in this Psalm when it didn’t seem to be true for his own life? Could it be perhaps because Calvin had an understanding of the whole picture?  

So let’s look at the Big Picture!

Psalm 90 focuses on man’s brevity, the fallenness of man, the spiritually dead, the state of existence every human being is born into.

Then Psalm 91 speaks of the hope salvation in the Lord, the gift for those who receive forgiveness.

And Psalm 92 praises God’s omni-benevolence, why a good and holy God can love a sinful and rebellious people.

  •  Who is the receiver of these promises?

 Verse 1 introduces a key characteristic of the intended audience. Who is the receiver of these promises? He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High. This opening is a confession of faith, “If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, then you will be saved.”

  •      What do the names of God reveal of His character in this passage?

 Most High – whenever a name of God is used, it is a reference to that unique character trait of God that the passage reflects, in this case Adonai demonstrates His sovereignty

Almighty – Shaddai, demonstrates God’s power 

  •  What is unique about a person who dwells in the shelter of the Most High?

 Verse 2  is a revelation of the character of such a man. Instead of “I will say” the passage should read “He says”. Someone who trusts and reveres God, finds comfort within His presence.

 Verse 3 – “fowler’s snare” – capturing birds for food and other uses was a very popular method of employment, the traps were everywhere, temptation is everywhere. Falling into temptation is easier than avoiding personal sin.

“pestilence” – A literal translation would be “plagues of mischief” referring to the consequences of sin as a result of living in a fallen world.

 Verse 4 – the word translated “shield” in this instance is “buckler” which is a type of round shield that surrounded the soldier protecting him from all sides.

 

 

 Jesus says, in Mt 23:37-39

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
The Lord’s protection is freely given, but it must be freely received. For as long as followers of Christ are living on this earth, the enemy will have access to us, but he does not have authority over us. Unless we give him authority, and we all do make this mistake. What a gift of grace that we can choose to rest in His presence when we repent and seek His face!

 Part 2 will address the difference between enemy oppression and enemy opposition and how the hope of heaven drives us to persevere when our circumstances offer no visible hope.

Father God,

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