In a time that is becoming increasingly challenging for many, one of the things we feel lead to press into is devotion. To know Him more, and to be better equipped to be His ambassadors, is at the heart of everything we do.
Here is a 4 part devotional, to be taken at your own pace, on Psalm 91.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward oft he wicked.
Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling’
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
“Because he loves me,
Therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he has known my name.
He shall call upon me and I will answer him;
I will deliver him and honour him.
With long life shall I satisfy him,
And show him my salvation.”
This Psalm is one which boldly trusts in God’s protection, with a lot of promises for us. In the midst of all these promises I see four things that I believe God asks of us in this Psalm:
1. Dwell with God in intimacy.
2. Make God your shelter.
3. Love, trust and hope in Him.
We’re going to take some time to look at each of these four things in more depth over the next few days. Today we’re starting with ‘Dwell with God in intimacy.’
Verse one says, ‘He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ Our secret place is simply where we spend one-to-one time with God; it’s where we cultivate intimacy with Him. The idea of dwelling there implies that intimacy with God, like in any relationship, takes an investment of time. The word ‘dwell’ indicates a level of permanence. It’s sitting down, remaining, having one’s abode in. None of these things are rushed actions.
For a lot of us, lockdown and social distancing means we have a lot more time at home. It’s easy to fill this time to avoid getting bored, to better ourselves. Thanks to technology, we’ve also got the ability to keep working and socialising. I wonder if actually the best way we can better ourselves is to spend more time developing intimacy with God? I wonder if perhaps, before all the video calls take place with our friends, we could use some of our day to sit with God? As we dwell with Him in intimacy, he promises that this leads to abiding in His shadow (His defence). It’s a safe place where we don’t need to fear attack.
Verse 4 says that His truth is our shield. If you’re not sure where to start in spending time with God and developing intimacy, try asking, “God, show me the truth.” The best place to start looking is in the Bible. It says, “Seek and you will find.” (Matt 7:7, Luke 11:9). So as you seek God for truth and look in your Bible, you’ll find it and it will protect you, just like a shield! You’ll also learn more about who God is and who he says you are.
- Are you lingering in your time with God rather just catching fleeting moments here and there?
- How difficult do you find it to just sit with God, without any agenda, purely to spend time with Him?
- Sit down with Psalm 91 and notice the promises it contains. You might want to highlight or underline these in your Bible, or write them out as words you can declare over yourself to bring peace and assurance during this uncertain time.
- Choose a verse from Psalm 91 and memorise it over the next week.
- Find a song based on this Psalm, or which speaks of God’s protection, that you can sit and listen to without distraction. Ask God to speak to you while you listen. (Some ideas: Psalm 91 – Jonathan Ogden, My Refuge – Rivers and Robots, Battle Song – Citipointe Worship, Not Afraid – Jesus Culture).
As we read Psalm 91, there are four things I believe God asks of us. Last time we looked at dwelling with God in intimacy. Today we’re going to look at the second, which is, “Make God your shelter.”
Verse 9 talks about making God our refuge. Another word for refuge (both in a dictionary definition and in the original Hebrew) is shelter. A shelter is a place that offers protections during danger. It’s somewhere you would run to when you need protection, for example, shelter from a storm, or a bomb shelter during raids in the World Wars. If you’re in a shelter, it’s a shielded and safe place.
It’s interesting that throughout the Bible God is referred to as a shelter. It’s not running to a physical structure or building, but to a person. As we can see in verse 9, this idea of being sheltered in God links really closely with the secret place of intimacy that we talked about last time. We find shelter, refuge, protection, when we run to that secret place of one-to-one connection. It’s so important then, that we are making our secret place somewhere familiar that has a well trodden path leading to it.
It’s as we run to our secret place that God promises we’ll be shielded from harm, that evil won’t happen to us, that plagues or diseases won’t be able to come near our home, that He’ll get angels to look after us. What audacious promises those are! If we believe the Bible, then we know that God keeps His promises, so we can boldly trust, and ask, for those things.
- Who or what do you run to when things are tough? Is it God? Or is your first port of call Netflix, your phone, food, alcohol, your friend who will help you wallow in self-pity, or something else?
- How safe does God make you feel?
- Do you believe the promises He makes in this Psalm? If not, what do you think is stopping you?
- Ask God for His protection. You could try praying this prayer:
“Lord, I pray your emotional, physical and spiritual protection over me and my family. You promise that as I make you my shelter, you will keep evil from me and plagues and disease away from my house. Thank you that you send your angels to protect me. Help me to find rest in your shadow and to dwell with you in intimacy. I want to know you as my safe place. I want to run to you when I need protection. Thank you that you promise to be with me in trouble and that you will deliver me from it. Amen.”
2. If you feel overwhelmed this week, take note of what your automatic response is. If you tend to turn straight to something that’s not God, pause before you do it and pray.
Today we’re going to look at the third thing God asks of us in Psalm 91. Along with dwelling with God in intimacy and making Him our shelter, I believe He asks us here to love, trust and hope in Him.
We see love, trust and hope throughout Psalm 91. Verse 2 says, “…my God, in Him I will trust.” The Amplified version of the Bible says, “…trust [with great confidence].” Our trust in God isn’t wishful thinking, but a confident trust and certainty. Without a shadow of a doubt we can know that what God says is true, that what He promises He will fulfil. We talked last time about making God our refuge (verse 9). The original Hebrew for this word ‘refuge’ also talks about hope and trust. As we take shelter and refuge in God, there is hope and trust in His safety and deliverance.
Verse 14 also promises deliverance, “Because he has set his love upon Me.” This love, hasaq in Hebrew, means to cling, join, delight in, desire, to be attached to. Love is a choice we get to make. We can choose to attach ourselves to Him and His love and not let go, we can choose to know Him intimately, and it’s as we do this that we see His deliverance. It’s as we do this that he sets us on high – above danger or fear, in a place of peace and joy.
- How confident are you that God will do what He says He will?
- How hopeful do you feel right now?
- Trust is easier when you know someone is trustworthy. Remind yourself of times God has answered prayer and kept His promises in your life. If you can’t think of any, ask your friends, find testimonies, look in the Bible. Thank God for His trustworthiness and faithfulness. This will help you trust Him to keep His promises, including the ones in this Psalm.
- Write down some things you are struggling to be hopeful for currently. Ask God to bring His hope. If you need to, ask Him to help you to choose to love Him in every circumstance.
For our final part of this series, we’re going to look at the fourth thing God asks of us in Psalm 91: prayer. Prayer is vital if we’re to do any of the other three things we’ve talked about so far (dwelling with God in intimacy, making God our shelter, and loving, trusting and hoping in Him).
Verse 15 says, “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him…” That is the definition of prayer. It’s us talking to God and Him talking to us. It’s a call and answer, not one way. In his talk about prayer, Banning Liebscher says that prayer is a relational interaction with God that is conversational in nature. He says that many people are asking, seeking and knocking, but forgetting the second part of prayer, which is receiving, finding and opening.
We need to bring our troubles and our thanksgiving to Him. We need to talk to Him about our day and how we’re feeling. But let’s listen to what He’s saying about those things and situations too!
As we pray, God promises to be with us in trouble and to deliver us out of it. But He doesn’t stop there. He honours and satisfies us (in excess!), and shows us salvation (which, by the way, isn’t just being saved – it’s victory, prosperity, health and help as well). Prayer is a powerful weapon, but it’s also a beautiful opportunity to develop intimacy with God.
- When you pray, do you usually just talk or do you listen for God’s answer?
- How have you heard God speak to you in the past?
- Listen to Banning Liebscher’s talk on prayer to get some pointers on how to establish and grow a healthy prayer life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC7qyNnkf4Y
- Pray about something that is on your mind. Talk to God about it and then ask Him to speak to you.
- Verse 2 says, “I will say of the Lord…” Our words are really powerful and we can speak life or death (Prov 18:2). Read Psalm 91 out loud. Find a prayer in the Bible and read it out loud (try Ephesians 3:14-21, The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, or find another Psalm). Ask God what He is saying to you through these scriptural prayers, then stop and listen.
Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, Abi Riley is our Church Connection and Events Coordinator. She is a prayer warrior, devoted to God, and a walking example of intimacy with Him!