Saturday, June 30, 2007

Psalm 91

When I was in Sunday School as a little boy, I was asked to memorize Psalm 91 (in the old King James Version, no less!). I don't remember if I memorized the entire Psalm, but I do recall the first verse:

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

You can find a modern English translation of the entire Psalm here.

I didn't really understand the Psalm at the time. There were words like "noisome pestilence," and "pinions," and "fowler's snare" that were well beyond my vocabulary at the time. My Sunday School teacher explained them, but I kept envisioning some monster stalking around at noon, and God swooping down like an eagle, avoiding traps, and covering the cowering Israelites with His feathered wings. It was like the poorly made, black-and-white Sci-Fi movies that were on T.V. at the time - "It Came From Outer Space;" "Them!"; "Invaders from Mars."

More than that, the entire point of the Psalm went over my head. I just didn't understand that God is making such an incredible Promise.

The final verses of Psalm 91 (in a modern translation) read:

"Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation" (Psalm 91:14-16).

God has made a commitment. Because He is God, He will fulfill that commitment. He has the power and character to do so. He says He will intimately be with those who love Him. Like Romans 8:28 (which assures us that God is working ALL THINGS together for the good of those who love Him), the promise is grounded in our love of God.

How can we possibly love Someone who is invisible to us? How can we be intimate with Him, when often God seems absent in our lives - especially for those who doubt His existence in the first place?

For me, the answer is the same as with any other important relationship: We must spend time talking and listening to the other person. God speaks to us through His Word (the Bible). God listens to us when we pray.

Reading the Bible should never be an exercise in guilt or obligation. Instead, we should pray that God will reveal His Truth to us through His Word. Then, with expectation, we should open the Bible and start reading in a logical fashion - don't merely 'hunt-and-peck.' Start with one book and read it all the way through. I'd suggest starting with one of the Gospels - Mark, say. Or start at the beginning with Genesis. Don't feel like you have to read the entire book in one sitting.

Then, after reading, pray again. Ask God to confirm the Truth of what you've just read. Start to practice prayer - open your heart to God throughout the day. Ask Him for help, for guidance, for assurance. God promises that He is not far from us; that He will reward those who diligently seek Him (Acts 17:27; Hebrews 11:6).

Honestly, my love for God is not exactly like my love for my wife and children. At this time, I cannot see God; cannot hug Him or be hugged by Him; cannot audibly hear His voice. On the other hand, my wife and children do not spiritually "live" inside of me the way God's Spirit does.

And it is His Spirit that testifies to me that I can trust His Promises. Because I love God, I know that He will sustain me through this trial and every other. He will set me on high. He will be with me in trouble (like on the operating table, Monday). He will rescue me and honor me, though I do not deserve it. And He will reward me with long life and His salvation - not ultimately in this life, but in Eternity.

His promises can be yours, too.

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