Ignoring catchy cliches, what biblical truths do you rely on in a world gone mad? What biblical realities do you trust in personal circumstances that are deeply painful and troubling? I have so appreciated Psalm 91 lately. Its perspective has brought great joy.
Psalm 90 assures us of God’s sovereignty; Psalm 91 comforts with the tender side of His purposeful right to rule and reign. Psalm 90 reminds us of the brevity of life; Psalm 91 points to length of days that is satisfying with God. Psalm 90 recalls our fears; Psalm 91 rejoices in the peace of an abiding life with God. The New Testament wonderfully progresses God’s story of life in and because of the risen Christ: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20; cf. John 10:7-18).
Picture Psalm 91 as a three-character, one act play with everyone singing, speaking, and at times almost shouting back and forth. There is the anonymous writer-soloist in verses 2 and 9a. There is an ensemble-choir in verses 1, 3-8, 9b-13. There is God Himself in verses 14-16. I love envisioning the psalmist’s assembly worshipping, reciting these God-inspired words back and forth to each other—comforting one another as they come out of their harsh world and challenging personal situations. How important is our congregational life!
We struggle with the promises of Psalm 91 that seem unreal, unfulfilled—perhaps even disingenuous. “No harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent” (10). Tim Keller helps us: “These verses seem to promise that nothing bad will ever happen to believers. And when Satan quotes verse 11 to Jesus in the wilderness, that is what he suggests (Luke 4:9-12). The devil wants us to think that God’s promises have failed if he lets us suffer. But the psalm later clarifies that God will save us “in trouble” not from it (see verse 15)…The only things faithful people can lose in suffering are things that are finally expendable.” Body and soul, God has a future for those in Christ!
Having such a God-centered view makes all the difference. God’s purposeful sovereignty toward His own is precious to us in trials. Affliction has deeper, and often a mysterious meaning. But the Spirit of God points the way of life in Psalm 91, ending with eight promises from God Himself (14-16). As we hold fast, know His name, and call on Him, God says He will deliver, protect, answer, be with us, rescue, honor, satisfy with “length of life,” and “show him my salvation.” The last two “take us to a horizon just beyond our sight” (Keller), assuring us of honor and endless, joyful life in His presence (vss. 14-15; cf. Zephaniah 3:17; Romans 8:11-25).
Last week I wrote of Dad’s passing into the presence of Christ. The assurances of God for now and forever have been constantly on my mind. Is Psalm 91 a well-timed gift to you this week, too?