Is your life not going as planned or as expected by others? Do you view every struggle and challenge you face as a disaster or a punishment from God for something you did wrong? Sometimes, we can think that way, and other people’s reactions to our troubles often contribute to that point of view. But the biblical perspective is that troubles and challenges are part of a fallen world. They are normal for life, even as a Christian. Psalm 91 is a psalm for danger, exposure, or vulnerability. We learn from the psalmist that no struggle or trouble can remove us from our place of security in the Lord’s refuge. As we study Psalm 91 in this blog, we will see why we can rest in the shadow of the Almighty and trust God. Beautiful things happen when a woman trusts God.
Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty
This psalm starts off by saying,
HE WHO DWELLS in the shelter of the Most High WILL REST IN the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
Let’s evaluate what those highlighted phrases means.
He who dwells: To dwell means to make your home there. My mind is aware that I am in God’s presence/sight. I feel an attachment, an umbilical cord to God.
The shelter of the Most High: The Most High God is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. The shelter is a hiding place. For the Jews, the Temple represented God as their “hiding place.” For us, our hearts have direct access to God in heaven—spiritually, not physically yet. We can take shelter in that which is sure and secure.
Will rest in: To rest means you have it settled in your mind and heart to cease striving and know that God is Sovereign and has chosen to love you. You hold onto truth rather than focusing on circumstances. That kind of rest is guaranteed to every Christian who chooses to do so.
The shadow of the Almighty: The Almighty is the One having all power. He is our all-powerful God. Nothing and no one is more powerful than He is.
When my daughter was a little girl, my mother used to call her my shadow. She stayed near to me for her safety and assurance. If you think about it, God’s shadow follows God wherever He is. The imagery is that of being close to God. A shadow also gives shade from the oppressive heat.
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. (Psalm 91:1-8)
Under His wings: Wings are a metaphor for the protective outreach of God’s power—relying on His protection and hovering as He guides us along our walk with Him. As He moves, we are right there with Him.
The basis of our security is found in the character and care of God. The blessings of our security are found in His protection and His love. He is the mighty one, the one who is all-powerful, everywhere present, and knows everything (Psalm 139). Being in His shadow means staying close enough to do so. You stay close because you love Him and know He will shield you from danger. There is nothing more powerful than God. God is bigger than anything you face now or can imagine you would ever face. He is invincible like a mountain. He is a place of shelter. You can face trouble with courage and peace.
While I was at geology summer camp in Colorado in 1972, it was required of me to spend a couple of days going “solo” to map a section of a mountain slope. While on the mountain alone, rain started falling. Then, it began to hail with lightning all around me. All I had for shelter was a flimsy poncho. So I ran for the closest area of overhanging rock. This rock shelter gave me protection from the storm. That is how God is—our place of shelter in the midst of storms.
God Himself Is the Believer’s Security
We can rely on Him.
The believer is invincible until his or her time is up … Nothing can touch us except what He permits.” (Dr. Tom Constable’s Notes on Psalms)
God is the refuge and fortress. We can snuggle up to God for safety and let Him defend us against those who attack us. Psalm 91 is a psalm for danger, exposure, or vulnerability.
We can rely on His protection.
If you make the Most High your dwelling — even the LORD, who is my refuge —then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; (Psalm 91:9-11)
He will command His angels: God has enlisted His angels in our protection and deliverance. References to these “Guardian Angels” are not only found here but also in Matthew 18:10 and Hebrews 1:14.
I have an “angel” story. When Hurricane Alisha head for the coast near Houston where we lived at the time, Ron and I chose to stay home. That’s what we had always done while growing up in Louisiana. Alisha, which was just a category “2” when we made that decision, turned into a category “3” as it approached shore. We foolishly put our kids to bed in their bedrooms. Did I mention we lived in a forested area? Well, a tree fell on house just above where the girls were sleeping. The next morning we were shocked with what we saw. The fallen tree looked as though it had been stopped by an invisible hand and just laid on the roof. Not even a dent was evident. I believe angels were at work that night. There is no other explanation. Trees that weigh hundreds of pounds don’t just “rest” on a roof after falling.
When Elijah ran away from Jezebel in 1 Kings 19, he “ran to mama,” by going to where God had manifested Himself to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai. An angel cared for him along the way.
Deliverance may not be immediate and should not be tested.
They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. (Psalm 91:12-13)
Verses 12-13 are considered a hyperbole, an exaggeration. They are not intended for us to test God by deliberately putting ourselves in dangerous situations. Jesus declined to test God by deliberately putting Himself in a dangerous situation to see if God would miraculously deliver Him. When He sent out His disciples on a preaching mission (Luke 10:19), Jesus used these verses to assure them that God would take care of them. He was not encouraging them to put their lives in danger deliberately. God promises to deliver those who know and love Him. He will eventually answer the cries for help that His people voice. He will not abandon them in their distresses. The promises of blessing and honor normally find fulfillment in this life, but they always do the other side of the grave.
It’s one thing for doctors to add years to our life, but God adds life to our years and makes that life worthwhile. (Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament Wisdom and Poetry)
Yet, some godly people have seemingly died young. Christians do get sick. Others have perished at the hands of their enemies such as during the Reformation, on the mission field, and at the hands of their pagan neighbors as happened to Christians in an Indian village who were killed by radical Hindus recently. I heard the story of a godly woman killed by a man in her Bible study in the Chicago area about 30 years ago. David experienced 13 years of running and hiding. Does that mean God is unfaithful and His promises unreliable? Wasn’t God strong enough to prevent such pain and torture?
James, the disciple of Jesus and brother of John, was beheaded by Herod yet Peter, who was also imprisoned, was released by an angel. There is a bigger picture to life than what we see. We think, “This is all there is. This is the best place for us now to serve the Lord. Surely God would want the righteous being productive here on earth rather than hanging out with just the redeemed in heaven.”
If we view life as extending beyond the grave, as it does, we should have no trouble with these promises. God will grant ultimate deliverance to His own even if He allows them to suffer and die at the hands of enemies in this life.” God allowed terrible things to happen to His own Son for a purpose. (Dr. Tom Constable’s Notes on Psalms)
There isn’t anything that God can’t prevent. Nothing is outside of His sovereignty. But we must release our expectations of what we consider acceptable outcomes. That’s part of trusting God.
God Is Good to Those Who Love Him
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)
Jesus said that in this world you would have trouble (John 16:33). But God is good all the time. Look at Habakkuk’s bold declaration in chapter 3.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
That is absolutely impossible without the Spirit’s help. We can face danger and disease with confidence in God’s grace and protection and love.
To those who are resting in the shadow of the Almighty, God promises rescue, protection, and His presence in trouble. He promises to honor those who love Him and to satisfy our desire for life.
What dangers would you list as your greatest fears? Apply faith to your fear and rest in the shadow of the Almighty God and trust Him. Beautiful things happen when a woman trusts God.
- Everyday Women, Ever-Faithful God Bible Study on Amazon
- The Walk from Fear to Faith Bible Study on Amazon
- Satisfied Series 1 Podcasts (Old Testament women series)
- Old Testament Women: Connecting their stories with trusting God today
- Profiles of Perseverance Bible Study (Joseph, David, Elijah, and Nehemiah)
- Apply Faith to Your Fears
- “Applying Faith to Fear” bookmark
- Face Trouble with Courage and Peace-Mark 4:35-41
- Sarah: God Is Bigger Than Your Weaknesses
- Release Your Expectations of Acceptable Outcomes
- Trust God’s Goodness in Addressing Your Pain
- Esther: Two Aspects of Trusting God
- The Book of Ruth: Life Should Not Be Lived Alone
- Psalm 91: Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty
- 4 Lessons to Learn about God’s Provision
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