Under His Wings
It is the good pleasure of Almighty God to do extraordinary things through ordinary people. Those ordinary people often discover God’s power because of a trial in their lives; they turn and run to God, and discover there the protection of God. They are “leaning on the everlasting arms;” they are “under his wings.” An older generation of hymn writers knew this well; the old hymns often speak of the protective providence of the Lord.
The Psalmist here knew the same kind of protection. We don’t know who wrote this particular Psalm; speculation is Moses or David. It does not matter; this is a man who has turned to God for shelter – and found more than he needed.
Shelter for those who trust
Psalms 91:1-4 NASB He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (2) I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!" (3) For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. (4) He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
Staying in the shelter
The word “dwell” is passing from our language. It carries with it the idea of staying for a time, settling down. The mature Christian knows that God desires his children to stay – not run into – his shelter. Other translations use the word “abide” – again, conveying the sense that we live in the shelter of his arms. The key is this: abide. Don’t wait for the crisis.
The word “shelter” can also be translated “secret place.” This abiding is not something that is prominently displayed. Our Lord counseled us to pray in secret; the results will be public enough.
Proclaiming the fortress
One aspect of trusting the Lord is “proclaiming the fortress.” Others should know in whom you trust. And what are you to say?
· First, that he is your refuge – the shelter in which you abide.
· Next, that he is your God – the one who has all authority in your life.
· Finally, there is the fact that you trust him – tell them that.
You are the leading expert on what God does for you. In these three points are the testimony of the average Christian.
He promises to deliver you if you will trust him. He delivers us in two ways;
· He delivers us from troubles – for when we follow his truth he keeps us from temptation and evil.
· He delivers us out of trouble – if we will but turn to him.
Why is this so hard to accept for most Christians? Because they don’t believe in the faithfulness of God. But understand this: he covers you; but you have to run to him to hide. You must make the active choice (run to him) before he makes his active choice to cover you. Then you will see the faithfulness of God. He is not like us; his word always is true.
Do not fear
Psalms 91:5-8 NASB You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; (6) Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. (7) A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you. (8) You will only look on with your eyes And see the recompense of the wicked.
Our Psalmist amplifies his previous thoughts. This is helpful to us, for often we trust God in one thing, but not another. Listen to his fears as they leave.
Night or Day
Those who have been soldiers know the feeling. It’s the middle of the night, there is no one around who is friendly, and the night seems to hold the almost visible forms of your enemy. Alone in the dark, courage ebbs. But we are not alone in the dark.
The day brings its terrors too – in modern times, there is the whipsaw between being employed and being a real human being. So often the boss is one who enjoys pushing other people around. Such a man must rule by terror; but you need not fear him. Your Lord is your shelter.
It makes no difference, the time of day or night – to the one who created time.
Disease and disaster
Of all fears, that which “might happen” is the worst. Note, please, that the Psalmist does not say you will not get sick; nor does he say you won’t face natural disaster (or, for that matter, any other kind). He says you will not fear them. So, I ask you, Christian:
· What do you say to the elderly gentleman who is worried about developing Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia?
· Or to the relative from Ohio who won’t come to California because of the earthquakes?
Make provision for these things; the insurance companies need the money. But fear them? Why? Do you not know the one who holds all things in his hands?
One in a thousand
Indeed, it appears that the Lord God Almighty is very fond of you. He chose you before the world began to inherit his salvation. More than that, for those who are obedient, there is protection beyond measure. Remember Esther? Did the fate of the Jewish nation really depend upon a king’s insomnia? The Almighty is superior to time, and he therefore is pleased to look after his children.
You will see the wicked get their due
For his chosen ones, God provides the sight of the wicked getting what’s coming to them. Why does he make such things public?
· So that you might know righteousness. As you see those who are wicked getting what they deserve, you will also see the virtue of doing it his way.
· So that you might know justice. It is not wise to assume that the loving God is also one who ignores justice.
· So that you will know that God is sovereign – it’s his universe. What goes around, comes around.
The Providence of God
Psalms 91:9-12 NASB For you have made the LORD, my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place. (10) No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. (11) For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. (12) They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
We need to remember the words Paul wrote to the Hebrews:
Hebrews 11:6 NASB And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
God rewards our trust in him. Abraham believed God; he trusted in him and acted upon that trust. God rewarded him by counting that belief as righteousness. But a word of warning: such trust is not an in and out door; it is the abiding trust of the true believer.
How can this be? No relationship of love can be built unless both persons trust each other. (Try having a happy marriage without trusting your wife!) That relationship is what God wants; he is pleased to reward you when you try to establish it.
The universe is a moral place
Many have noticed lately that our business leaders are increasingly focused upon the profits of this quarter. That’s practically the definition of temptation: trying to sacrifice eternal good for short term wickedness.
A personal instance. When I was young, I was a teacher for a short period of time. During my student teaching, my master teacher took me aside and explained to me what he called “twenty for five.” The girls at that school dressed to arouse (“hot pants” were in back then). He explained it simply: statutory rape is even yet a crime; the phrase meant twenty years in prison for five minutes of pleasure. What goes around, comes around.
While there is much nonsense going around on this subject (like the knick-knack that says, “Don’t drive faster than your guardian angel can fly”), it is clearly taught that God provides his angels for our protection. Indeed, the basic manner in which God punishes people and nations is not so much to strike them as to cease protecting them. But for those who are strong in the faith, God’s protection is something to be claimed in faith. Permit me an anecdote from C. H. Spurgeon:
In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighbourhood in which I laboured was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave. I gave myself up with youthful ardour to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions. I became weary in body and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it. As God would have it, I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker's window in the Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore in a good bold handwriting these words: - “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window I gratefully acknowledge, and in the remembrance of its marvelous power I adore the Lord my God.
Did you notice the key? “Faith appropriated the passage as her own.” Spurgeon saw the providential care of God on many occasions, and was not hesitant to testify to that fact.
Nor is angelic protection simply a matter of physical safety. As we see here, the problem was not only disease, but the oppression of death. Our Lord knows your every need; trust him for it.
Triumph of the Saints
Psalms 91:13-16 NASB You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down. (14) "Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. (15) "He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. (16) "With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation."
It is curious but true: it pleases God to give victory over the strong to those who are weak – but who trust in him. Why is this?
· So that his power might be shown; in our weakness is his strength displayed.
· So that his purposes might prevail. Somebody has to do it.
· So that we might be encouraged.
So God tells us what to do about it. It’s a pretty simple thing; in the sense of logic, it is an “If-Then”:
· You love him
· You truly know him, and acknowledge his glorious Name
· You call on him in time of trouble
· He will answer you, he will rescue you and protect you
· He will be with you, You will know his peace; you will feel his presence.
· He promises you his rewards on earth: honor, long life – and salvation.
You are privileged as a child of God to claim his promises to you; if you do, you will not only shelter under his wings; he will give you the wings of an eagle to soar.