Okay, so Psalm 91 has my mind running wild this morning. Maybe not surprising given it’s a song which seemingly promises deliverance from “the deadly pestilence” (91:3); and so, says that “you will not fear . . . the pestilence that stalks in darkness” (91:5-6); providing the “secret sauce” for such deliverance with, “because you have made the LORD your dwelling place . . . no plague will come near your tent” (91:10). And, after all, it’s Psalm 91. Nine one. That’s the reversal of one nine. 19. As in COVID-19. Hmmm . . . . like I said the mind’s running wild.
Time to bring every thought captive, me thinks. Because as I read on I realize this is also the psalm the devil quotes (mis-quotes . . . quotes out of context) when tempting Jesus to go to the top of the temple and throw Himself down (Matt. 4:5-6). So, there’s no way I should be “claiming” this song as reason to invite a bunch of people over for a party and let them sneeze on me. “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matt. 4:7)
But having said that, there is something in the songwriter’s lyrics this morning which provides a heavenly perspective on the earthly instruction to “shelter in place.”
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
(Psalm 91:1-2 ESV)
Anticipating another week of being at home. Another week of sheltering in place. But reminded this morning, through the living word, that it’s also another week to shelter in the shadow of the Almighty.
And as I chew on the songwriter’s song, two things in particular capture me. One, His unfailing promise. The second, my exhorted protocol.
First, His promise:
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
(Psalm 91:4 ESV)
His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. In some translations: His truth is a shield and buckler. Literally, it’s His firmness, His stability, His continuance, His reliability. That’s God’s faithfulness. That’s His truth.
And that’s how we know God’s faithfulness, through His truth. Every morning, when I open the Word, I am re-positioning myself “in the shelter of the Most High”. Again experiencing “the shadow of the Almighty” as I take up my position anew under His wings through His truth. As I affirm afresh by expectantly opening His word that He is “my refuge and my fortress.” And the promise is, that when I do, His faithfulness, His truth, will be a double armor of protection. Guarding my heart, soul, and mind against the fear and uncertainty that fly like arrows about me each day (9:5). All because I have made the LORD my dwelling place, and He has promised His faithfulness, and that through His truth.
And that speaks to the second thing I notice this morning, my exhorted protocol.
“Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name. When he calls to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.”
(Psalm 91:14-15 ESV)
The LORD Himself breaks into the songwriter’s song, adding His own bridge, His own pledge along with His own suggested protocol. Hold fast to Me in love. Know my name. Call to me. That’s the dynamic of dwelling in the shelter of the Most High. Those are the actions of abiding in the shadow of the Almighty. Holding fast — through the love of Him who first loved us. Knowing He is God — the Sovereign, the Father Almighty. Calling on Him — even in wordless weakness through the Spirit who “intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26).
We can do social distancing in the context of such a spiritual dynamic. Shelter in place even as we dwell in His shelter. Be responsible even as we know His refuge. Fear not because He is faithful.
Here we go. Another week. Psalm 91 may not be the magic mantra to recite to reverse COVID-19 (it isn’t), but it sure is a good song to sing in order to be reminded that our confidence lies not in our quarantine, but in “my God, in whom I trust.”
By His grace. For His glory.