As I write this, I am thinking of two dear friends who are currently battling stage 4 cancer. They are facing danger, sickness, pain, darkness and potential disaster. They are threatened with at best the reality of painful recovery and at worst the possibility of an untimely death. My mind is filled with questions: Why is this happening to them? Where will they turn for security? How will they maintain hope? Whom will they trust? Will their faith wane? My prayers provide only one answer: Their security is found through faith in God. Of this the writer of Psalm 91 is a witness. The Psalmist testifies of a deeply personal faith. In the midst of great danger, his (or her) life is entrusted confidently to God.
Psalm 91 teaches us that we must encourage each other to experience a faith revival – again and again – through the Word of God because of three key realities: 1) the danger of the world, 2) the promise we have been given, and 3) the power of our God in whom we trust.
The danger of this world
The human experience is filled with life-threatening and destructive forces. Psalm 91 identifies the key dangers we face. Deadly diseases, violence, irrational fears, demonic forces, loneliness, deception, false pride and disasters plague us. Newspapers and TV shows specialize in capturing this reality for our consumption. This daily diet of trauma, sickness, disaster, warnings, despair and terror, results in our being weighed down with growing fears. Even the Bible teaches that trusting God does not mean we will not experience dangerous circumstances. Most of us know other Christians who have lost their life, jobs, children, marriages, and even their faith. Therefore, we live in constant fear even when things are going well. Have you head someone – or maybe yourself – say, “things are great, but I am sure something bad is going to happen any time soon.” Fear is a crippling pestilence. No wonder our faith needs constant revival. In fact, it is fear, not doubt, which is the opposite of faith.
The promise we have been given
Let’s tackle the most difficult part of this passage. Verse 7 says, “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” Many read this passage as a promise that nothing bad will happen in their life if they put their trust in God. This is a lie from Satan himself. Consider the devil’s conversation with Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11. Notice that the devil quotes the Scriptures! He arrogantly quotes Psalm 91:11-12. But, Jesus responds by quoting Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:16) with humble trust, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Yes, God has made us a promise to protect, rescue, shield and save us. However, his promise is often misunderstood with “prosperity” in this life. His promise is an eternal prosperity, where verse 7 will be fulfilled and believers will be observers of the final judgment against the evil forces of this world. God’s promise is eschatological, concerned with the final destiny of human kind. This does not mean that God will not protect us in this life. In fact, the majority of the Psalm is a promise of God’s faithful protection.
The greatest promise found in Psalm 91 is that God’s caring protection accompanies us in ALL circumstances of life. He supports and defends us from eternal harm by providing us the ability to overcome the most difficult of situations. It is this security that enabled Jesus to endure the agony of the cross saying, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” A continuing relationship with God is stressed in verses 14-16. “He who loves me…I will rescue him…I will protect him…he knows my name…he will call on me…I will answer…I will be with him…I will deliver him…honor him…satisfy him.” These words are echoed in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you.” God’s promise of eternal life and salvation is the bedrock of our security of faith. 1 John 5:4-5 puts it this way, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” This is a security that the world can neither give nor take away.
The power of our God in whom we trust
Who is this God in whom we put our trust? The Psalms give us a glimpse of His attributes. The Lord is good; the enemy is not. God’s love endures forever. He is our helper. His name has power to triumph over the enemy. He is righteous and all-powerful. He has done and continues to do mighty things. He is the maker of heaven and earth. He is a deliverer, a provider, a healer and a powerful protector. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point: Our God is GREATER than any calamity, any disaster, any decease, any evil. Nothing is impossible for Him.
Our response to these realities
What does God expect in return? A response that sounds something like Psalm 23:4, “I will fear no evil for you are with me.” Therefore, this encourages me to testify to my friends who are struggling with cancer, and to you, “Beloved, be assured that God will protect you from dangers of every kind, real or imagined. All such dangers are robbed of their destructive power because you are encircled within God’s protecting power. God has put you on a high place and is pouring over you grace upon grace. From this place Satan cannot take you out – not as long as you put your trust in God and rely on the security of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
© 2012 Ines Franklin
P.S. You might also enjoy Ines Franklin’s four-part series on “Godly Jealousy”