Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been delving most mornings into the New Testament and learning more about what it is to live for Jesus, falling more in love with Him as I walk atop every mountain and through every valley. I’ve been taking it very tortoise like. Before I jump into a book of the bible, I read the corresponding chapter of a really helpful, albeit hefty, book (Unlocking the Bible) that was recommended to me by a friend which helps give me a bit of context and insight into the passage I will be reading. I like to write down my key take-aways from the passage and then more often than not, I’ll tie up my Bible time with a psalm. Sometimes the Psalm for that day really hits the nail on the head and I use its words as my own in prayer. Sometimes it won’t really apply to my situation at that point but I read it, I thank God for it’s truth and I store it in a little treasure chest in my mind, labelled and cross referenced of course, to whip out when I need to remember its words. And then you read absolute CORKERS like Psalm 91.
"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honour him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
What really stood out to me when reading this psalm was the use of the future tense. Now I know I’m proving right every language student stereotype by droning on about tenses, but hear me out. There are a lot of psalms that are testament to what God has done previously. They point to God’s goodness, his mercy and how He has never failed us. They provide us with the reassurance that even when it seems like God is distant or not answering our prayers, that He always delivers in His own time.
Then there are a fair few psalms where the psalmist is crying out to God in the midst of what they are going through, reminding us that it is okay to feel the emotions that we feel. God is a relational God, He loves us as His children. He’d much rather that we come to Him with our troubles, even if it means asking Him what on earth He is doing, than feel ashamed and run in the opposite direction. But we are always reminded that whilst our emotions are valid, they aren’t our truth. Our rational God is still moving within our irrationality.
And then you get psalms like Psalm 91 which point to the future. They remind us that God will save you and and that we will not fear the terror of the night. It’s not a coulda woulda shoulda kind of situation. It’s a certainty. When you read it for yourself, it’s so powerful. Declaring it over a stressful period in your life and knowing that God will bring resolve and peace. Speaking it into a time of waiting, when the days of uncertainty and emptiness are mounting up and becoming unbearable. Singing it out in celebration in the knowledge that He has got you this far and will continue to fight your cause.
And all we have to do is put our trust in Him.
The psalm says “whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High” will find refuge, “His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart”. He’s not scratching our back because we scratched His first. It doesn’t work like that. He doesn’t say, ‘they fought for me, so I’ll fight for them’. Nope. Instead we are simply called to love Him. It reminds me of the lyrics of one of my favourite songs at the moment called ‘Defender’ by Rita Springer. Give it a listen, it’s cracking. It says this;
“You go before I know
That You've gone to win my war
Your love becomes my greatest defense
It leads me from the dry wilderness
All I did was praise
All I did was worship
All I did was bow down
All I did was stay still”
All we have to do is choose Him.
It’s not always the easy choice. Sometimes it’s not convenient, it doesn’t fit your schedule. Sometimes it might ruin your street cred, if you’re hip and happenin’ enough to have some. Sometimes it takes every last morsel of strength and courage to put your trust in God when everything is crumbling down around you.
But this psalm declares that not only has God been good and is good, but that He will be good. It might not look the way you thought it would, it might not come when you thought it would, but His goodness will reign. So now it’s up to us. It’s up to us to say “I will trust in you, God. Even when I feel like it’s too hard, even when I have nothing left, even when I’ve come to my end, I will.”