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As our country is preparing to re-open from possibly the most deadly epidemic this generation has ever seen, tensions are very high.
Show slides of people’s anxiety
It seems people are reluctant to return to their former way of life because they are worried about their own protection and health. Everyone’s scrabbling for protective gear (masks, gloves). Some are wondering if they’ll ever feel safe again.
Psalm 91
What should be our response to this as believers? Should we share in the world’s hysteria? Or, have we’ve been give a better promise...a promise of protection?
Psalm 91:1-6
Scholars are not sure of the author of this Psalm, or even the occasion in which it was written. What we are sure of is that this passage was written to give readers assurance that God has provided protection for those who put their trust in Him.
Psalm 91:1
This Psalm opens with a statement that those who ‘dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ Let’s unpack this verse:
First, the phrase ‘secret place’ is a reference to the sanctuary of the Lord (Psalm 27:5). The word ‘pavilion’ represents any place where a person or being dwells more than temporarily. Therefore, the ‘secret place’ of the most high is talking about the place where the Lord dwells!
Second, the words ‘dwell’ and ‘abide’ are very similar in meaning. For example, the word ‘dwell’ means to live, and the word ‘abide’ means to dwell continually, or as the Message Bible says, “ remain all night” (Psalm 91:1 MSG).
Third, the phrase ‘under the shadow’ is a reference to abiding under the wings of the cherubim, which surrounded the ark (the place of God’s presence) in the 'secret place’ (most holy place) in the temple.
If we put all these ideas together, we can conclude that those who live in the secret place of His sanctuary (His presence) will have the privilege of abiding (remaining all night) under the shadow of God’s spiritual (angelic) protection!
We’ve spoken to you how the Bible calls us to share in God’s divine nature. Here we’re being invited to be recipients of His divine protection.
Psalm 91:2a
One of the first things we’re told concerning the divine protection of God is that it exists, it resides, in the PERSON of God!
This is why I’m calling this sermon ‘Spiritual PPG’ because we will be talking to you about the Personal Protection of God. We’ve all heard of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Employers are being told that the best way to protect their employees from the Corona Virus is to supply them with PPE. Similarly, God has supplied the saints with protection, only this protection is in the form of His person. HE (His person) is the source of our protection (Psalm 91:2 NLT).
What does the Psalmist mean when he says, “the LORD is my refuge or place of safety”? He means God alone is our defense, and not something we might attribute to God.
Whenever you see ‘LORD’ in all caps it’s referring to the particular name of God. In other words, it does not have a wide range of meanings.
Video of Oprah on the ‘Steven Colbert Show’
Obviously, I don’t share Oprah’s definition of 'LORD.’ It seems she’s trying to change the name ‘LORD’ from a specific reference to the person of God, to generic character traits that people associate with God.
The psalmist, on the other hand, is bringing emphasis to the Lord Himself, rather than trying to emphasize some particular aspect of God’s character. The entire passage is directing the reader to God in order to encourage faith in God. If we focus too much of our attention on the ‘good’ God does, we might conclude that ‘good’ is the source of God rather than God as the source of ‘good’!
This can, in turn, lead to worshipping the things that bring us good rather than worshipping God (Numbers 21:8, 9). Israel focused so hard on this serpent that they later made an idol out of it (2Kings 18:4, 5).
Psalm 91:3
Here the psalmist speaks about the LORD delivering him from the noisome pestilence. Pestilence is a reference to disease or an epidemic (Psalm 91:6 GW). Moreover, this is a reference to a noisome (deadly) disease (Psalm 91:3 GNB).
What’s interesting about this verse is that it describes pestilence (epidemic) as a ‘snare.’ Snares are put in the earth intentionally to catch prey!
Amos 3:5
The reason this is interesting is because we tend to view epidemics as accidental and random.
Amos 3:5
The general premise of this verse is this: nothing’s random. Everything happens for a reason. If a bird falls to the ground, it’s because a trap was set. Traps are set by bird catchers, and they’re generally not removed until they have served their purpose! Well, what’s the trap and who’s the bird catcher?
The Bible says that sin in snare or a trap. Therefore, sometimes what we see is simply the results of our own sin. However, there’s another claim being made here.
Amos 3:6
Here we read that all 'evil’ (disasters, epidemics) is judgment from God. And like snares, evil has a purpose, but that purpose isn’t always clear (Amos 3:7).
Is there a way to escape these snares...judgments?
Hebrews 2:1-2
Transgressions are sins we commit by taking action (commission). We commit transgressions intentionally and unintentionally. (If you run through a stop sign, you’re guilty of breaking (transgressing) the law even if you didn’t see the sign.)
Disobedience refers to sins we commit by not taking action or by refusing to do what we know is right (omission). We should add that unlike transgressions, we are only required to obey what we know is right.
Now, the writer of Hebrews tells us that every transgression and disobedience receives a just reward or punishment. Therefore, no one ever gets away with sin. Neither should we be surprised when we see judgment in the earth.
Now, don’t miss what the writer is trying to tell us. He’s not simply saying, "Prepare for the worse, because there’s no way out.” He’s saying to us that there’s no way out but ONE—God’s great salvation (Hebrews 2:3)!
The only way to escape the curse is to not neglect (but accept) God’s great salvation, which is found in the person of Christ! Be sure not to neglect Him because He’s your only way of escape (refuge)!
There is a way to escape this trouble (judgment) that we see all around us, but God is the ONLY way. HE is our ONLY refuge and defence (Psalm 91:2). Not these man-made systems we often associate with God, but HIM (the LORD, the self-existent one). Unlike other things that exist, God is self-existent and does owe His being to any other thing.
Why does this matter? To say that we trust in the LORD is to say that we trust in the One who doesn’t need anything or anyone to exist. Since He doesn’t need anything to exist, those who trust in Him do not need anything to exist. We only need Him. (“In Him we have our BEING or existence”)
Have you accepted His salvation? When I ask, “Have you accepted,” I don’t mean simply with your mind. Are you putting your trust in Him for salvation?
(picture of chair, man sitting on it)
Someone else might be wondering, “What if I’m already caught in this trap? What if I’ve already been snared by the enemy or the curse?” There’s still hope for you. God is not only a refuge from the storm (trouble), but He delivers from trouble!
Psalm 91:3
No matter where you are, and no matter what state you are in, make God your habitation and your refuge. Call and look to Him for deliverance and protection!
Notes: First, the phrase ‘Most High’ is a title given to God as the greatest of all gods. In ancient times, ‘gods’ were worship for their ability to deliver and save. Therefore, to say that God is the greatest of all gods is to say that He is the greatest of all deliverers.
Psalm 91:1 (Isaiah 25:4)
Psalm 91:2a (Psalm 18:2; 61:4; 56:4)
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