In Psalm 91, the Holy Spirit inspired author writes of a secret place wherein men may dwell beneath the shadow of God. He writes of protection, of deliverance from troubles, and of a long and prosperous life. He talks of snares, and plagues, and nighttime terrors, of evil all around. Yet he proclaims with absolute assurance, from God, that those who set their love upon Jehovah God shall reap the reward of a long and honorable life.
Although the opening of the psalm proclaims a secret place, it only takes a moment for the reader to comprehend that the true source of protection is not a place, but rather it is the person of God. The call is that we must get near to God. Get in his shadow. Slide beneath the shelter of his wings. Live in his truths.
The metaphors are vivid reflections of fundamental truths. In spiritual understanding, the shadow of God the creator engulfs all that is and all that can be, yet this psalm points toward a limited shadow such as men may cast. To stand in this shadow, one must be very, very close to the solid source of the shadow.
Near the end of the psalm, we see a great and wonderful promise from God. It is written as follows:
“14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. 15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation,” (Psalm 91:14-16).
The written word reads, “Because” we have set our love upon him. I read this with a measure of self-understanding. I do love God. My heart is set upon Jesus. I long to one day head him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant”.
Yet there are times when he is not foremost in my thoughts.
Perhaps my wife, in a moment of annoyance, speaks a word that stirs my flesh to anger. Without a warning, I may respond with a harsh and thoughtless countercharge. Perfect love would not have done so.
May haps a voice of envy whispers through my mind, and for a lingering second of eternity, I fail to lay captivity to the thought. Perfect love would not have loitered so long.
A friend may offend me in action or word. For a minute, or an hour, or a day, I may battle the grudge that takes my flesh. Perfect love would have responded with instant forgiveness.
We all miss the mark. This is no excuse; it is merely a fact. Do these moments of forgetfulness remove us from beneath the shadow of God’s love? Do our shortcoming prevent us from claiming the promise of Psalm 91?
God alone is perfect. The promise is not to a perfect man with perfect love, but rather it is to those who have set their love upon a perfect God. Every prophet in scripture stumbled somewhere along the way. Yea, even Daniel. We do to.
Oh we weep and we sorrow, and we strive with all our heart to be worthy of the free gift of grace that God has bestowed upon any who will believe upon the name of Jesus Christ. It is not for our goodness that he keeps us, but rather it is his mercy that responds to our faith, and even that is not of ourselves. It is as it was with our spiritual father, Abraham:
“3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness,” (Romans 4:3-5).
If by faith, you are a child of the living God, know that the promises in Psalms 91 are yours to claim. Love him, believe in him, call upon him, and when you stagger remember that it was from this very psalm, verse twelve that Satan pulled the words he used to tempt the Jesus who stands as your righteousness.
We live in a nation that is under the abandonment of God. Don’t let this frighten you. Pray for the loss, for the nation, and for strength among God’s people. He will protect you. He will honor you with long life.