Over the next few months, I am leading the most precious group of women at my church through a Bible study called “Living on the Rock: Finding Security in an Insecure World.” I plan to share some of what I’m learning and teaching here on the blog. You can find everything I’ve written about this under the tag “Living on the Rock”.
This week in Living on the Rock, we’re going to be taking a closer look at Psalm 91 (one of my favorites.)
Our truth for this week is
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!”
I love the imagery of dwelling in the shelter or shadow of the Most High.
The word for dwell in Psalm 91:1 means to sit down, remain, or stay. It means to live, to abide. As in: I live in the Lord’s shadow – I’m close to Him, I’m in His presence.
The Message translates this: “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!”
I trust in You, and I’m safe.
So I ask myself: Is this true for me? Is this where I live? Or do I visit the shadow of the Almighty? Do I just occasionally stop by the Lord’s shelter? For the Psalmist, this was a PRACTICE.
I think sometimes when we read the Psalms (which are my FAVORITE) we get a false picture of faith and piety. In Psalm 91, we picture a faith that’s so strong it serenely sings this song as arrows fly and the night terrors attack. There’s the psalmist, with pestilence stalking and destruction laying waste, and he’s singing “Oh, good for me, I live in God’s shadow.”
But that’s a super-human picture. And the Psalms are nothing if not HUMAN. They’re raw and honest and real, often borne out of terrible circumstances, written to be sung and recited by God’s people.
So what I see in this Psalm is not an expectation that I would calmly sing through danger.
I see a song to sing when that danger is coming. A song for those who are afraid. A song brimming with promises of the Most High God’s protection and care, a song that promises SECURITY, even in an insecure world.
This is a song for those who have made a practice of dwelling with, sitting with, living with the Most High God. For those who’ve practiced seeing themselves as living in the Shadow of the Almighty.
How can we practice this, in our real lives, starting right now? How can we practice living the truth that we live in God’s presence, and so we are SAFE?
This is one reason why time in the Word, time to listen, time to pray is helpful: It reminds me that wherever I am, He is with me. This truth – God’s presence with His people – is all over the Bible.
One way we can practice living in the truth is by picturing and meditating on passages of Scripture.
Will you picture something with me?
The safety and security in Psalm 91 is available to us – arrows hopefully won’t be flying at any of us this year. But there will be attacks.
So start by picturing dangers you are facing, fears in your present, struggles from your past.
Loneliness. Loss. The unknown. Failure. Rejection. Others’ disappointment in you. Sin struggles, sexual, food, gossip. Conflict with those you live or work with.
Picture those dangers, fears, and struggles as arrows flying toward you, pestilence creeping your direction, destruction headed your way. Can you see it? No wonder we’re afraid.
But now…. I want you to picture yourself – SAFE. What does that look like?
Are you in a fortress?
In your basement bathroom, like if there was a tornado?
Maybe you’re hidden under wings, or in strong arms.
Psalm 91 uses the picture of actual angelic forces protecting us, so you could picture that.
My favorite picture comes from a description I read of the trinity in a book: I picture myself on the Father’s lap, with the Holy Spirit and Jesus gathered close like a Mother and Brother in a group embrace. That feels so loved and safe to me.
Whatever you’re picturing, I want you to see that as a picture of your God. Your Father, the Father-Son-Spirit, standing in safety over you.
Can you see those dangers and fears flying or creeping toward you? And can you see yourself as safe? Safe in Him.
Now listen again to the words of the Psalmist, ancient and true:
She who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. She says to the Lord, “MY REFUGE AND MY FORTRESS, MY GOD IN WHOM I TRUST.”