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The Lord Protects His People

27/03/2020

The Lord Protects His People

Text. Psalm 91:1-2

Today we are looking at the first two verses of Psalm 91.  This psalm is a great encouragement to Christians in times of distress and trouble, when it seems that our situation is hopeless and we are in despair.   

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The psalm falls into three distinct sections, and so we will look at it in three separate short thoughts, each lasting around 10 minutes.  The three sections are marked by a change in or noun, so in verse 1-2, the psalmist speaks as ‘I’ (I will say of the Lord…’). In verse 3-13 he speaks to ‘you’ (eg. v7, A thousand may fall at YOUR side…) then in verse 14-16 he returns to speaking of ‘Me’ – (eg in v14, ‘because he has set his love upon Me).  So there is a very simple structure to the psalm,  

  • My personal relationship with the Lord. 
  • The Lord’s promises of protection. 
  • The Lord’s assurance that His promises never fail. 

So, let’s look a little at verse one and two.  He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Listen to this service as a Podcast:-

SERVICE PODCASTS

1 The Relationship Between God and Me. 

There is a beautiful symmetry in these two verses, as the psalmist describes the closeness of the relationship that he has with the Lord.  See how God is described by the psalmist.  He is… 

  • The Most High God.  Speaking of God’s holiness.  He is high and lifted up!  In our last CD we learned that all men are equal before God.  We are all sinners.  But God is without sin, dwelling in unapproachable light.  John wrote, This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  1 John 1:5.   
  • The Almighty.  Speaking of God’s strength.  His omnipotence. Revelation 11:17 …We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. He is ABLE to deliver us! 
  • The LORD. He is also WILLING to deliver us, and he wants us to know it.  The God who reveals himself to his people as their deliverer.  This is important.  Do you remember the story of the Burning Bush in Exodus 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. Moses asked God to reveal his name his name, and he replied Exodus 2:v13-14 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?  And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.  This is what this capitalised word LORD means – it’s the name of God, (often pronounced ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah’) – as He revealed it to Moses.  That day in the desert Moses got assurance from God that he had seen their plight and would deliver them from Egypt.  The Lord is our deliverer!   
  • My God.  This great God, the One who is holy, different from us, the One who is mighty, more powerful than us, the One who wants us to know that he protects us, is MY GOD.  The psalmist has a personal relationship with God!  

Now here we have the first great challenge of this this psalm.  Do I have a personal relationship with God, my Creator and Redeemer?  We may have an intellectual knowledge of God’s person, of his abilities and willingness to rescue us, but do we KNOW him?  Is he our FATHER?  Do we walk with him and hear his voice as he speaks to us through his word?  Do we enter into fellowship with him in prayer?  Most importantly are we RESTING OUR HOPE in him, trusting only in Jesus, our Saviour, knowing that his death at the cross has borne away all the punishment for our sins. 

 

2 Measuring My Relationship with God. 

I said that the psalm had a simple structure, and that these two verses had a lovely symmetry in them, and you’ll see how now as the psalmist uses four descriptions of his personal relationship with God.  These prompt me to ask the question, how close am I living to the Lord? The psalmist is describing his closeness to God thus:- 

  • The secret place. He is dwelling a in a place that other cannot appreciate or understand.  Only you’re believer knows what it means to be living in, conscious of, God’s presence.  His closeness.  A Christian poet expressed this closeness,Dwelling in the secret place, overshadowed by his grace, Looking up into his face. Seeing only Jesus. / Dwelling there, how truly blest! Leaving all, how sweet to rest Head upon my Saviour’s breast Seeing only Jesus. / Resting there, no more to roam,  Drawing near to heaven and home.  Waiting there until he comes. Seeing only Jesus. 
  • The shadow of the Almighty.  Living in a shadow?  Nowadays no-one wants to live in anyone’s shadow, do they?  We want to be seen!  We want celebrity and fame, at least that seems to be the mood of the age.  But for the believer, we do not want to be seen – we want only the LORD to have the preeminence, that we, and others, should see no-one but him! 
    • John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.  (John the Baptist)
    • John 12:20-21  And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: 21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
    • Colossians 1:18, …that in all things he might have the preeminence.
  • A refuge.  This is reminiscent of Psalm 46, ‘God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble’- in that psalm we learn that God is a ‘place of safety,’ and place to which we can run in difficult times.  We know about ‘safe spaces’ today, I usually in colleges or at events, usually places where offended ‘snowflakes’ can go to cry if they hear something that contradicts their worldview!  They are illusionary.  There is a big bad world out there, and we have to live in it.  There will be sorrow and trouble and misery in life, for such is the result of our sinfulness.  But there is a REAL place of safety – and it is only in the Lord.   
  • A fortress.  A defence.  In Proverbs 18 our relationship with the Lord is compared and contrasted with the relationship that the ungodly have with the material things of this world.  Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. 11 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.  Another translation reads: The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.  The rich think of their wealth as a strong defence, they imagine it to be a high wall of safety!   We have a strong defence in the Lord, and one that will not perish with this world.

So here then is the second of our two challenges.  If we do know the Lord as our Saviour, and we are in a personal relationship with him, just how close is that relationship?  Are we ale to say with the Psalmist that ‘I am dwelling in the secret place, in a closeness to God that no ungodly person could ever imagine, that I am willingly under his shadow, so that he alone will be glorified in my life, that I have fled to him for safety, that I am trusting the Lord, leaning on Him for my protection?   If not can I say with the poet, ‘Oh for a closer walk with God, a calm and heavenly frame, a light to lead along the road that leads me to the Lamb. 

That’s the message of the opening verses of Psalm 91.  The psalmist has a close personal relationship with God, and that will sustain him in days of trouble.  Next time we’ll look at the middle section of the psalm. 

THIS SERMON WAS DELIVERED ON A CD FOR CHURCH MEMBERS AND FRIENDS ‘SOCIALLY ISOLATED’ DURING THE COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK.

 

From → Bible Study, Psalms

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