Last week, I woke up singing the first line of Psalm 91 over and over again. I’d never learned it as a song, but it came to me as a song, anyway.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the most High
will abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Here’s the whole psalm. It’s one of David’s.
As born-agains, we live in that secret place of the most High, under God’s shadow.
Psalm 91 is about us.
David wrote the psalm so that we’ll know how greatly God is protecting us, both spiritually and physically.
God’s not protecting us because he loves us, he’s protecting us because we love him.
Let me say that again: God is not protecting us because he loves us, he’s protecting us because we love him.
Our love enables God to protect us. Our love gives him permission to protect us.
God works through our love to protect us.
God loves everyone and to a certain extent also protects everyone. I know that’s true because even as an atheist, I was miraculously rescued too many times to count (although I didn’t know until after I was born again that it was God who’d done the rescuing).
This psalm isn’t about God’s everyday protection of everyone, both believers and unbelievers. This psalm is about God’s special protection that he can give to those who love him.
God doesn’t give us born-agains special protection because we’re special in any way; he gives us special protection because we allow him to, through our love for him.
Everyone can have access to God’s special protection. All they have to do is love God and follow Jesus.
But so few do.
In Matthew, Jesus talked about how God had wanted for so long for his people to hide under his “wings”, but they refused to.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…. How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
Psalm 91 also gives us the same image:
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.”
Have you ever seen chicks running to hide under the mother hen’s wings? The chicks ‘disappear’; you can’t see them anymore. There’s no safer place for them than under their mother’s wings.
But we shouldn’t use God’s special protection as a reason to be foolhardy. Satan tempted Jesus in the desert by quoting from Psalm 91 and (as usual) misapplying it.
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
The devil wanted to trick Jesus into being a ‘daredevil’ by jumping off the top of the temple and assuming that God would protect him. Jesus didn’t fall for it. He knew scripture.
Even better, he knew and loved God as his Dad.
God gives us special protection, but we’re not to abuse it. If we knowingly put ourselves into danger assuming that we can do anything we want because God will protect us, chances are pretty good he won’t protect us. If we assume that God will protect us no matter what we do, we’re taking a position of pride. You can’t be proud (rebellious) and humble (obedient) at the same time.
Loving God means giving yourself over to him wholly, constantly, and unquestioningly, like Jesus did. Then God can help you.
“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him.”