Heartbeat (Psalm 91)

MOTIVATE

We live in a “maybe” world.

  • Social media events can rsvp with “yes,” “no,” or just “interested/maybe.” The promotion of half-heartedness and a maybe world.
  • FOMO creates lack of commitment. People keep their options open and plans can change even in the last minute because something else better comes along.
  • Contracts are not renewed.
  • Deadlines run overtime.
  • Relationships can be fractured and broken.
  • Promises are unkept. 

But God is a immovable and unmistakable promise keeper.

  • Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man that he should lie, or a son of man that he should change his mind. Has he spoken and will he not act? Has he promised and will he not fulfill it?”
  • The Psalms are a immeasurable source of perspective and hope to recount the promises of God. They remind the believer that we do not live by explanation (why) but revelation (who). The Lord reveals He is enough, and His promises can be trusted.

EXAMINE           Psalm 91                                            2 benefits and blessings of trusting in our God.

Psalm 91 is unnamed but many Jewish scholars commend the author of the previous psalm, which was Moses. If Moses, it is fitting, since he knows what it was like to dwell in the high courts of Pharaoh and the lowly wilderness wandering, yet having his greatest home comfort in his faith in the Lord.

Trusting in God gives you deliverance (Ps 91:1-6)

The essence of this psalm is about trusting and treasuring God above all else. Yet, as we’ve seen in many places, there is a difference between having general thoughts about God and specific trust in God. General thoughts of belief in God and having good behavior are helpful starting points. But there are people who believe in God but still going to hell – just read about the demons who affirm Jesus as the Son of God but deny His authority (cf James 2:19).

A person must move from general thoughts to specific trust in God, namely Jesus Christ.

A person must move from general thoughts to specific trust in God, namely Jesus Christ. Psalm 91 was written before the incarnate Christ, but is still about Jesus from start to finish. In fact, when Jesus begins public ministry, Satan quotes this psalm in an attempt to trick Jesus into forsaking God’s mission (cf. Mt 4:5-6). But Jesus did not seek relief in the ruse of Satan but had his hope and shelter in the Most High God. God delivered Jesus from the snare of the fowler (Ps 91:3), and even though He walked through the terror of night in the cross (Ps 91:5), Jesus was rescued and resurrected to eternal life (Ps 91:16).   

So, a specific trust in God implies more than awareness but action. 2 key words:

  • Dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    • Dwelling has both a public and personal nature. The noun סתר means a “hiding place” or “secret room.”[1]) It is one thing to praise in church and another to pray in secret (cf. Mt 6:6).
      • Personal dwelling with God gives you depth and spiritual power.
      • Faith is personal but isn’t private. So, if your personal faith is seldom or never informing public actions, then you likely have a generic belief rather than a specific trust in the Lord.

  • Abide in the shadow of the Almighty
    • Abiding means ongoing residence; verb לון means, basically, “to lodge” or “spend the night,” but in more extended usage it means to “live in.”  NIV has “rest”; JB, “make your home.”[2]
    • Jesus tells us to abide in Him as branches to a vine, for apart from abiding there is no life and we can do nothing (cf Jn 15:5).
    • We underestimate the value of a shadow, but in a dessert geography and arid climate (w/o AC!), would be the difference between life and death.
    • Shadow of your wings indicates intimate care, attention and assistance (cf. Ruth 2; Ps 17:8; 36:8; 57:2; 63:8, 121:5).

The implication of dwelling/abiding in God is that you are in relationship with Father God. Like an impoverished child needing provision or a frightened child needing protection is one who has God as their refuge. Note the personal possession – “my refuge, my fortress, my God in whom I trust” (v.2).

  • Our church has several men named Bill: Bloomquist, Swartz, Voelp. It is entirely appropriate for their wife or children to say, “My Bill,” but weird if I were to say, “my Bill.” The Psalmist is claiming ownership of his personal faith and trust in God. 

God promises deliverance from:

  • “the snare of the fowler/hunter” Satan is incessantly seeking to tempt, trick, and destroy (cf Jn 10:10; 1Pet 5:7). Satan’s snares are temptation and troubles:
    • Temptation: God delivers us by providing His word and a way of escape (Mt 4:4; Ps 119:9-11; 1 Cor 10:13). While we may not be able to stop a bee from buzzing in our face, we can stop it from building a nest in home. Can you imagine a person walking around with a live hornet’s nest stuck in their hair? Yet, that is precisely what is happening when people toy with temptation and why Scripture says avoid such fools.  – – – if not a nest in hair sometimes it’s hidden cob webs underneath.
    • Troubles: Like Job or Peter (Lk 22:31), Satan seeks to sift/separate us from righteousness with the cares of this world. We must remember that God is the source of all that is good and a strength for when life is not good.
      Prov 30:8-9 “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of God.”

  • “deadly pestilence” The wording implies threat of destruction; troublesome or disordered matter.”[3] The promise of God’s deliverance from deadly pestilence does not imply irresponsibility during a pandemic nor absolute shielding from sickness or suffering.
    • Every major character in Bible experiences suffering, and is used of God to refine faith, cultivate character, and develop spiritual growth.
    • Many individuals in Jesus’s life experienced sickness and suffering; namely later the apostle Paul with deep suffering physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
    • God’s promise of deliverance in pestilence or any other problem is not that we will not experience crisis, but that we can persevere knowing He is trustworthy. God has a Fatherly and faithful purpose for everything that happens. Even if we cannot understand difficulties, or death itself, we trust God to have the last word with victory.

Isa 25:8 “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth”
Rom 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

“He will cover you with his pinions (feathers) and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” (v.4)

  • Illus: Story about a significant fire in Yellowstone Park. Afterwards, two firemen walked through the destruction and noticed a grim sight of a charred bird on a tree stump. One fireman knocked the bird over and underneath was three little chicks. The mother bird had spread her wings to protect her babies and take the fire in their place.[4]
  • God’s covering is Christ’s atonement. Some suggest that God’s atonement provides physical healing, because Christ bore our sorrows and sins, and by His stripes we are healed (cf Isa 53:4-5; Mt 8:16-17). Yet, if physical healing is as accessible as spiritual salvation, then why do we still have medicine and hospitals – for Christians too?!? Jesus commands us to confess our sins but never our sicknesses. “Lord, forgive me for having the flu… / I regret my runny nose and apologize for sinus congestion.” No – sickness is not sin but an effect of the fall. We live in a cursed world that is groaning and longing for redemption. Until then, physical healing is a matter of God-given wisdom to humanity (medical, science, technology, organic remedies).
  • The question is not whether God will heal, but when. In Christ’s atonement is the assurance that a day is coming when there will be a cure for cancer, handicaps will walk/run/jump/dance, mentally ill will be mended in mind-body-soul, dementia/alzheimer’s will be remembered no more (pun intended!), and every disease (including covid) will be obliterated, along with every agony/grief and heartache will be tenderly nurtured with a heavenly embrace like never felt. Everything sad will come untrue and all will somehow be greater for having once been broken or lost[5]; for the former things have passed away, and behold the new has come, and the dwelling place of God is with His people (Rev 21:3-4)!

“You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” (v.5)

  • There is never a time where God is not powerful and faithful.
  • God can see in the darkness as well as in the brightness of noontime. Nothing hinders God from carrying on His plans and caring for His people.

    > God’s deliverance begins with your decision to trust in Jesus Christ. Yet, the Christian faith is more than just spiritual fire insurance from an eternal hell. We must move to a specific trust and treasuring Jesus with our affections and actions.
    > If Jesus has delivered you then tell somebody. And Jesus doesn’t just stop with salvation from sin; He’s breaking chains and delivering from burdens and battles. Jesus has more deliveries than all the daily Amazon drivers, so the redeemed of the Lord should say so (Ps 107:2).

Trusting in God gives you confidence (Psalm 91:7-16).

The psalmist is not just proclaiming passive faith – reacting to circumstances, asking God for deliverance and refuge. Instead, the psalmist is teaching us active faith that has full conviction, confidence, and courage to boldly live for God.

“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you… bc the Lord is your dwelling place… no evil shall befall you, no plague come near your tent.” (Ps 91:7-10)

  • 10K (#10 also symbolic of completion; 10k high known # / for us a trillion trillions)… the idea is that God is a majority against the multitude. You may stand or walk on your own, but if God is with you, then you will never be outnumbered. Whatever circumstances that surround your life, they do not exceed God’s wisdom and power. Trust in God means you are never doomed or hopeless. The Almighty God of angel armies and the King of kings stands by your side through thick and thin. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1Jn 4:4).
    • Story in 2Kings 6 when King of Syria sought to capture prophet Elisha. An army with horses and chariots surrounded him. Elisha’s servant was afraid and asked what they should do. Elisha responded, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then he prayed for eyes to see God’s hidden army and there arose a vast defense force that the attackers could not prevail.
    • Likewise, what eyes do you see your circumstances? May God open your eyes to see trust in God makes you a mighty majority.
    • Trust in God does not mean we escape tribulation but that we endure through. Life is not a soft breeze, a smooth sail, or serene walk, but a survival hike and camping trip. And if you’ve ever been camping, you know anything can go wrong, and it usually does 🙂 So, Ps 91 is not about pain free days but a despair free life. Your mind may diminish, your body may weaken, challenges and crisis may overcome you, but your spirit will sustain and God will hold you fast.

Ps 91:11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up.”

Ps 91:14-16 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him. I will protect him because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

  • BC he knows my name… The Bible presents God having numerous names; about 150 names by my count.[6]  This Psalm identifies four different names for God
  • El Elyon – God Most High
    This name reminds us God is above all things – especially grief and the grave. In battles, the one with the high ground almost always wins the fight. In Christ, we may experience hardship, but we take comfort being able to dwell in the shelter of the Most High to be protected and ability to persevere in life’s trials and tragedies. 
  • El Shaddai – God Almighty
    This name reminds us that God is not just high above but He’s almighty. There is no one more powerful or prevailing than our God. In Christ, death does not have the final word over our bodies. El Shaddai transforms death into a shadow, that is overcome by the light of God’s resurrection.
  • Yahweh – LORD
    This name is personal to the people of God because the LORD of the OT puts on flesh to live and love among us. Yahweh sends Yeshua to be “God with us.” And so we can join with the psalmist in saying, Yahweh is our refuge and fortress.” We may not have all the answers or have it all together, and that’s just fine. It’s ok to not be ok, but we need to know God is walking with us and will see us through.
  • Elohim – God
    This name points us all the way back to creation. It’s Elohim who creates the world into existence. The same God who created everything from nothing has the ability to take our brokenness and rebuild into a beautiful masterpiece.

    > What are the confidence killers in your life… people/self/heart idols… match them to a name of God with a promise in God’s word to build your faith.

APPLY/THINK

The world is a terrifying place without trusting in God.

  • Disaster / Depression / Disease / Death
  • How do you get through life’s troubles and terrors without God?
  • With God, “We are indestructible until our work on earth is done. Don’t let the sands of time get into the eye of your vision to reach those who still sit in darkness.”[7] Let us wake each day that alarm clocks go off in hell to wake the demons to get on duty bc we are boldly living for God.
  • George Whitefield: “God give me a deep humility, a well guided zeal, a burning love, and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst.”

[1] Tate, M. E. (1998). Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51–100 (Vol. 20, p. 447).  

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Illustration from J.D. Greear, Psalm 91.

[5] Partial Tim Keller quote, https://twitter.com/timkellernyc/status/461143119170646018?lang=en

[6] https://growinggodlygenerations.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/god-has-a-name.pdf

[7] Elizabeth / Jim Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Amen. I love this. Thank you for this blessed lesson. Blessings.
    ~Selah~

    1. growinggodlygenerations says:

      Thank you friend. All glory to the Lord.

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