As we hear daily news reports of loss of life and jobs from the COVID-19 Pandemic; as we think about our own vulnerability and the risk to those we love; as we experience the wide-ranging disruption, we struggle with worry and fear about many things.
Psalm 91 was written for times like this. It is filled with hope and promises of God’s love and protection for those who trust and seek Him. As I mentioned yesterday, my dad helped us children memorize Psalm 91 and then share it with sick and elderly people we visited. It became very meaningful to me then. Now, many years later, I see even more reasons for hope and faith. Today, I will share what speaks to me, hoping it will bring peace and trust to you as well.
An Invitation to Trust
The psalmist, David, is writing from his own life’s story. Through many challenges, he has learned to trust God. God has helped and protected him many times–as a young shepherd from a lion and bear; as a young adult from his archenemy King Saul; as a warrior, in battle; as a monarch from palace intrigue, treachery, and rebellion; and even in his own failings and sin. He has come to believe deeply that God is loving, faithful, and good. He can be trusted. David trusts Him completely now, and with beautiful word pictures drawn from his life, invites us now to do the same.
“He who 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. . .His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.'” Psalm 91:1-2, 4
Invitation to a Relationship with God
David’s invitation to us is rooted in the ancient worship center, the Hebrew tabernacle where a person came to God through the sacrifice of a lamb for sins. Asking God in faith to forgive and accept them in this way, looking forward to a Savior, brought pardon and full acceptance with God. Today, we come to God through Jesus, “The Lamb of God who has taken away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). No matter how long we may have been away from Him, how much we have sinned, or strayed, or ignored Him, He will accept us. Even though our lives are broken and messy. Even if it is in the middle of a pandemic, a time of emergency. He paid a heavy price. He loves and wants us, in any case. He wants us.
“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. . . ‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him because 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.” Verses 9, 10, 14, 15
Promises to Claim
I have learned many things about God’s promises in the years since I first memorized Psalm 91. It is full of wonderful promises like angels delivering from accidents, being rescued from pestilence, plague, and punishment. But, does God always do what we ask? What can we know for sure as we read Psalm 91?
First, we can trust the Promiser. He is trustworthy and faithful. He has given us His promises to help us form a relationship of trust with Him. There are over 3,000 promises and clusters of promises in the Bible. God wants us to relate to Him through these. Many have cut their teeth as new believers asking God to fulfill some promise and seeing how attentive and faithful He was to their prayer.
Second, some promises are always Yes. As we come to Him humbly in faith, he always is willing to forgive our sins, be present with us in any situation, give us peace and faith in trouble, and grant the Holy Spirit’s help. Any promise concerning our relationship, He will definitely fulfill. Paul is thinking of this when He wrote, “No matter how many promises are made to us, they always Yes to us in Christ.” 2 Cor. 1:20.
Third, some promises are “God’s will be done.” God’s other promises are not a blanket coverage for every situation, or every circumstance in life. Sometimes God delivers, heals, or provides; sometimes He allows trouble. Job suffered; Paul didn’t get his thorn removed (2 Cor. 12:7); Christ experienced the Cross. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). We must always pray, as Jesus did in Gethsemane, “May your will be done,” trusting in a God who loves us and knows what is best for our eternal good.
Last, ASK! We can always ask because a loving, caring God’s heart is always open to our prayers. God HAS often protected and delivered His people from danger; He HAS supplied financial and physical needs many times; He HAS healed people of disease. We can claim his promises and trust His love, even if the answer is Yes, No, or Wait (perhaps until Jesus comes).
“Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears, before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of His children. . . . Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. . .The relationship between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon earth to share His watch-care, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son.”Amazing Grace, p. 116
An Invitation to be Loved
I love the closing words of Psalm 91:
“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.” Verses 14-16
Friend, God is inviting you and me to a relationship with Him. He loves us more than we can ever imagine. We can ask His help trusting Him to do the best for this life and eternity. Won’t you take that step, or reaffirm that choice now?