19 Psalm 91 No harm will befall you
Psalm 91 Study 19 No harm will befall you We read in Psalm 91:7, "A thousand may fall dead beside you, ten thousand all around you, but you will not be harmed." (GNB) We are living in a time when we are surrounded by calamities on all sides, but the word of God assures us that these dangers will not come near us. The Psalmist explains this more distinctly that there may be thousands or even ten thousands who are quashed all around us, but we will remain unharmed. Our thoughts, emotions and circumstances keep changing, but God's word is eternal and unchanging. God's children must therefore, be firm and rooted on the confirmation that our God and His word are immutable. The word of God is enduring In Luke 16:17, "But it is easier for the heaven and the earth to pass away than one point of the Law to fail." (LITV) These are the words of Jesus where He established the truth that though heaven and earth pass away, not even a single dot of the word of God will ever fail. Therefore, when God's word guarantees us that no harm will befall us, we can cling on to this. However, there is an important point that needs to be noted. Every time we take a promise from the scriptures to claim it as our own, there is a question that we need to ask ourselves, 'For who is this promise of God applicable?' In Psalm 91, the answer to this question is found in verse 1 which details two vital aspects that should be noted. This promise is applicable to those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High God and for those who abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Everything else that follows has verse 1 of this Psalm as its foundation. Most of us want to be recipients of the promises of God, but are unwilling on our part to do what is required of us. On the one hand while we cling on to what God has in store for us, there is the other part where we need to realize what God expects of us. From the above mentioned verse we infer then that no harm will come nigh anyone who has made God their refuge and are totally dependent on Him for their security. This assurance of protection is also for anyone who is firmly established in God. All of us know that Psalm 23 is one of the most familiar and most liked one universally. We may like to claim Psalm 23:4, which says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;" your rod and your staff, they comfort me.(ESV) Here again, this affirmation is for those who as Psalm 23:1 mentions have made the Lord their shepherd. It means that when God is the one who leads us and as we walk in obedience to Him, then we will have no fear of evil, even when it's the valley of the shadow of death, for then for certain God's rod and staff will be our comfort. I will explain these above mentioned verses through the incidents that happened in the life of a man named Noah. Noah was a righteous man We read in Genesis 6:9, "This is the story of Noah. He had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Noah had no faults and was the only good man of his time. He lived in fellowship with God," (GNB) There are three characteristics that we can pick up from the above mentioned verse about Noah. Firstly, He was a righteous man who led a blameless life before God and men. Secondly, he had a wife and three sons which implies that he had family relationships. Thirdly, he walked with God and had God at the center of His life. However, the people who lived during the time of Noah are described this way. The entire world was filled with evil In Genesis 6:12, we read, "God looked at the world and saw that it was evil, for the people were all living evil lives." (GNB) As God observed the earth and all whom He had created, He saw a world filled with wickedness. The people of the earth were corrupted and wicked doing evil in the sight of God. It was in the midst of such a crooked generation that Noah lived uprightly, leading his family well and keeping God as the focal point of his life. Who can remain in God and walk with Him? The Psalmist says in Psalm 24:3-4, "Who shall ascend into the hill of Jehovah? And who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; Who hath not lifted up his soul unto falsehood, And hath not sworn deceitfully." (ASV) There may be those who claim to be walking with God, but sadly these characteristics that the Psalmist talks about are sometimes missing from their lives. The Psalmist mentions those who have clean hands, those who have a heart that is pure, those who are truthful with no hint of falsehood and those who do not swear deceitfully as the genuine ones who walk with God. When Jesus lived here on the earth, He never condemned the sinners for He knew that they needed to be delivered from their sins. The ones that Jesus rebuked were those so called religious leaders, who were hypocritical. To have no deceit would mean that what we say and what we think are both in agreement with no contradiction whatsoever. The word of God declares that it is only such a person who will be found worthy to ascend into the mountain of God and stand in His holy presence. The fact that Noah was a righteous man does not in any way imply that he was sinless. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned, every human being born after them were also born in sin. What distinguished Noah was the fact that though he was surrounded by sinful people and he himself was prone to sin, he chose to lead an upright life and gave God the central place. This was what happened as a result of Noah's decision to seek God and walk with Him. Noah found favor with God We read in Genesis 6:8, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." (Webster) Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and did not in any way spur Noah to lead a careless life. On the other hand, having received the grace of God, Noah earnestly sought to do what God expected of him. To find favor from God does not mean the ultimate end of the matter, but rather the beginning of something that God wants to accomplish through us. If we do not comprehend this, we will certainly be those who will take the grace of God casually, and not value it as we should. God entrusted Noah with a huge task In Genesis 6:14, we read, "Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch." (ESV) This was the command that God gave to Noah who found favor in His eyes. He was given the detailed instructions as to how he was to build this huge ark. This ark was exclusively for Noah and his family that is why God declared to him, 'Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.' It is important to understand that the commandments of God are primarily for our own good, but many are unable to comprehend this truth. Have you noticed how as children are growing up, they find it very bothersome to listen to the advice of their parents and be obedient to them. There are some children who even despise their parents simply because they have not understood the fact that the do's and don'ts that parents spell out to them, are for their own benefit. Let me give you an example. Many small children are hooked on to games on mobile phones. If parents limit the use of these devices they get totally annoyed. It becomes even more difficult when there is also schooling done through mobile phone these days. The truth is that though children may rebel now, there will come a time when they will look back and realize that the counsel they received from their parents was for entirely for their good. So also, a majority of people reject the commandments of God because they think they know better. The first command God gave to Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden was to cultivate it and guard it. The second command they received was not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, when Adam and Eve disobeyed the consequence they faced was severe. Noah obeyed God implicitly In Genesis 6: 15-21, God gave the intricate details of how the ark was to be fashioned. God also warned Noah that there would be rains and a great flood. Noah was instructed to bring in all the animals and birds in pairs and make preparations for them to have enough food stored for all of them. We read in Genesis 6:22, "So Noah did according to all that God commanded him; he did so exactly." (TLV) Noah obeyed God implicitly and did everything that God commanded him unquestioningly. It would be beneficial for us to decide to listen to God's commands and like Noah be inclined to do exactly as God requires of us. Noah found grace with God because He kept God at the center of his life, and had a heart that was willing to obey God though he did not comprehend things fully. In Noah's days they had not seen rain and had no clue as to what floods would look like. In spite of his limited knowledge of upcoming events, Noah trusted God and did exactly as God guided him to. As those who have received the grace of God, it is indeed a blessed privilege that we are even able to hear the word of God. In most places globally churches have been shut down, and therefore, if we are able to hear God's word it is His immense grace and we must decide to obey Him wholeheartedly. Our obedience to God should not be based on our convenience, but unquestioning and in submission to His commands. Noah obeyed God though he did not fully comprehend what God was instructing him to do. We read in Hebrews 11:7, "By faith Noah, when warned about events not yet seen, in holy fear prepared an ark for the safety of his household."(TLV) God warned Noah of an impending flood and though Noah had no clue as to what that meant, in holy fear he prepared the ark just as God advised him to. The result was that the ark became the place of safety for Noah and his entire family. The commands of God are purely for the good of those who are willing to walk in obedience to them. The benefits of that obedience will belong not only to those who obey but to our families as well. We may not comprehend everything that the Lord requires right now, but we will do so when we see Him one day face to face. Let me remind you again from Psalm 91:7, "A thousand may fall dead beside you, ten thousand all around you, but you will not be harmed." (GNB) This was fulfilled in the life of Noah when he heeded God's word to build the ark. When Noah, his family, the birds and animals had entered the ark, God Himself shut the door. As I mentioned earlier, God's word will never fail. Just as God told Noah, there was unprecedented rains and the entire earth was flooded so that there was death all around the ark. There may have been those who even helped Noah in the construction of the ark, but woefully they too perished because of their unbelief. They scorned the call of God and the preaching of Noah when the door to the ark remained open. While all around the ark there was death and destruction, Noah and his family were kept safe by God Almighty from every harm. Let us be reminded that the times and seasons are appointed by God and if we do not make the best of those opportunities to enter into the ark as Noah did, we too will be consumed by the sudden destruction that will overtake us. Maybe you are wondering, 'What is the ark that I must enter in order to be safe and saved from destruction?' Noah had to cut down wood from gopher trees, which had to give up their life in order to help Noah build the ark. So also, God the creator of heaven and earth, out of His immense love for mankind, not wanting anyone to perish, sent down His only son Jesus to the earth to give His life up for all of humanity. The reason Jesus came down to the world, was to rid mankind of all the sin, evil and curse by taking on all of it on Himself on the cross of Calvary. It was because of Jesus' death on the cruel cross that mankind received the greatest blessings as mentioned in the verses below. We read in John 3:16-17, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him." (TLV) The immeasurable love of God sent the Lord Jesus into this world so that he would take on Himself the sins and curses of all mankind. Just as the door to the ark was the entrance to safety for Noah and his family, so also Jesus is 'The Way' to God and when we enter through Him, our sins too will be forgiven and we will be saved from being condemned eternally to receive eternal life. God did not send Jesus to condemn the world, but contrarily Jesus came that the world might be saved through Him. Even today the door is wide open. The call of God as we read in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest." (GNB) We live in a time when people are gripped with fear, uncertainties, anxieties and a constant barrage of bad news every single day. The Lord reminds us and reassures us that a thousand may fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand, but none of it will come near us. This is applicable of course only if we decide to dwell in the shelter of the most high and abide under the shadow of the Almighty God. The invitation is open, and may each of us be willing to come into that safety that the Lord provides. For those who have not experienced this, you can receive this salvation the Jesus offers and be set free from all your sins and bondages. If we call on the Lord He will answer us and deliver us from all our fears and keep us safe and secure under His everlasting arms.