Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Favourite Bible passages: Psalm 91    (11/24/2008)

Psalm 91 is in the Old Testament. The Psalms were written about 1,000 years before Jesus came along, so it's not where I, personally, would normally look for a favourite passage. But there's a beauty to the Psalms because there's so much raw human emotion spread across 150 short chapters.

The Psalms read a bit like poems, with a lot of thought put into their structure, but (the clue is in the word 'psalm', which means to 'pluck') they were written as songs to accompany the playing of a stringed instrument.

About half of the Psalms were written by King David - slayer of giants - whose life was packed with ups and downs. Perhaps this is why these passages are so easy to relate to, even today: they are full of raw emotion, from fury and despair to joy and an overwhelming sense of love for God.

To me, Psalm 91 stands out like a beacon. It's where I turn when I'm feeling very low; when I need a reminder of the comfort and protection I have from God. Whatever might befall me (and God doesn't promise anyone an easy life), I am under God's 'wing', like a mother hen shelters her chicks: "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge." Whatever terrors might abound, day or night, God is watching over me like an anxious parent.

God tells me here that he gives his angels charge over me, that I might not even 'strike my foot against a stone'. I was reminded of this yesterday when I came within a cat's whisker of being hit by a car - a very frightening experience, and I had a mental picture at the time of an angel pulling hard on the car's rear bumper.

Psalm 91 ends with an amazing promise from God. I've taken the liberty of exchanging the word 'him' for 'you' here, because of course this promise is for all believers:

“Because you love me," says the LORD, "I will rescue you;
       I will protect you, for you acknowledge my name.

You will call upon me, and I will answer you;
       I will be with you in trouble,
       I will deliver you and honour you.

With long life will I satisfy you
       and show you my salvation."

What strikes me about this last part is that sense of two-way relationship. Because you do this, I will do that... When you call, I will answer. God is no distant figure in heaven, pulling levers or running software programs. Instead, he watches over his children, day and night - never sleeping on the job, never failing to be concerned for our own smallest concern. And even though he doesn't say our lives will be easy (above, he mentions trouble), God's promise is that he will be with us. He will save us, bringing us into his presence in heaven for eternity.

Turn to the Psalms and discover very contemporary emotions and themes and, most of all, a superb model of how to talk to God: honestly, openly, full of how you feel.

Father, thank you that no matter what happens in my life you are there, your love for me is more than I can know, and I am under your wing. Amen.

Is there anyone in your circle of friends or work colleagues who needs to hear about how much God cares for them? Be bold - share that with someone this week.

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