Welcome to Welling, for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. Oh these years have been so difficult for the whole world. I’ve spelled it out as times of complexity, opposition, volatility, isolation, and disruption. You probably can make out from the first letters as to what I just finished spelling. It’s complicated by war. Believers are opposed. Economic situation are volatile. There’s been an isolation of believers. There’s been a disruption of every sort. Danger, disease, death. It’s in this context that Psalm 91 has become terrifically precious to me personally to my family, especially to Bonnie and myself.
In the discovery of early stage prostate cancer and the means of addressing it, I’m grateful to say that as I record this message I’m within five treatments of finishing out a 30 treatment course. And trusting the Lord if he’s not already cured it would have eradicated it.
I’ve been immersed in Psalm 91, a psalm that I learned from the fifth grade. Did not know that about 60 years later it will be a great encouragement to me and I’m trusting that it is to you as well. You heard me say in the previous episodes that the psalm is like a double down sandwich of a famous chicken chain. World renowned where the chickens are the replacement of the bread inside are good things. The enfolder and the enfolded comes with the enfolding. We are in the enfolding section.
We talked about the enfolder, how he is the God, the Almighty one, the sovereign one, the covenant one, who is personally related to you. He’s a shelter and the shadow. He’s the sanctuary in the stronghold. That’s the tough part. A little later on we will talk about what this God knew the enfolder and the enfolded in dynamic relationship will be personally, intimately engaged in a powerful prayer life where God answers your calls on him. But right in the middle is the enfolding.
Two sections of the enfolding, like the cheese and tomato as it were, verses 3 to 8 and versus 9 to 13. It is God’s prevention strategies and God’s protection strategies of his children. That’s how he preserves us. A prevention strategy which says, you are covered. You’re covered from danger. But a preservation strategy says, you are protected. You are carried.
Let’s talk about the first part, the prevention strategy. The psalm is speaking to the traveling warrior. This could be seen as a military psalm, as a soldier who is looking for protection and prevention. For a military metaphor has already been used of God, that he’s the refuge and the fortress.
Is also applied to a Pilgrim worshipper, that’s and me. A traveling worker. We get to benefit from this because as God’s prevention and rescue where God keeps dangers from approaching you. Says for it is he who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. Where dangers and snares and threats come unexpectedly upon us. A hunter’s trap was set for birds. As soon as the bird leg touched the trap, pow, the bird was captured.
We too face those kinds of traps and threats. But God’s care is never faltering. His efficiency is always adequate. It talks about the negative side and the positive side. I didn’t know nothing will harm you. Life is filled with risk. But we can have a peace, a transcendent peace.
Bonnie and I have experienced it. Not explainable. Not without understanding, but beyond understanding. Psalm 90 and Psalm 92 which covers Psalm 91 says life is fragile but it’s not futile. That life can be fruitful.
One commentator says Psalm 91 could actually belong to psalms of sicknesses and healing. That’s how I have claimed it. He will cover you with this pinions. And under his wings you may seek refuge. His faithfulness is like a shield and bulwark. Those were the psalm immediately saw a majestic bird, a mighty bird. A bird from on high which carried its young carefully. The eagle.
Some time ago, when I was in Lviv in Ukraine I was taken to the army barracks of the Ukrainian army. I spoke to hundreds of young men. At the end of the day, honored me with Ukrainian military fatigues, which hang in my closet. But they also gave me a fabulous Ukrainian eagle, the emblem of their country. No longer hammer and sickle. To say that the bird not in a superstitious way for us it is actually the bird of God as Dante used to say, of the eagle. Who is preventing us and protecting us.
Shield and rampart with his wings a bastion, a bulwark. From insidious, occasional, unexpected sudden attacks. God prevents us. You will not be afraid of the terror by night or of the arrow that flies by day of the pestilence that stalks and darkness. And we’ve had pestilence of the worst kind. And the pandemic may become an endemic. The destruction that lays waste at noon.
If you are in the heat wave of India and Pakistan right now, they’re facing a heat wave. It’s the highest in 122 years. 48, 50 degrees, 118, 120 degrees. Where parents try to keep the children in the shade so that the children will be prevented from heat strokes.
That is sort of the sentiment of the psalm. There’s 1,000 may have followed your side, 10,000 your right hand. It shall not approach you because you are covered. You’re covered by the eagle, mighty most high God.
Night and day we can be affected. We don’t want to be irrational. We don’t want to be superstitious, but the Bible does have a whole theology of demonic activity in the forces of evil always lurking to capture us. We are protected at every level at every side by noonday sun and darkness of terror hidden in the shadow of his wings.
I close with a sad story, a sad song. A writer I’ve actually used a song every time that we finished out one of these episodes. This comes from Edith Cherry written about the late 1800s, about 125 years ago or so. I’m 50 years.
Edith Cherry was born in England. She had tremendous troubles in her life. At the age of 16 months she had a polio attack made sure that she only could walk through crutches. And she lost her younger sister at four. She was devastated when she was the age of six, by that loss she never recovered.
She had a gift of poetry and some other art and she wrote hymns. Two strokes in early life says one entry about her and a third at age 25 took her life. She wrote this fabulous song, an old song I used some more contemporary songs. But listen to this. It says, “we rest on you, our shield and our defender. We go not forth alone against the foe. Strong in thy strength. Safe in thy keeping tender.
Yes, in your name, oh Captain of our salvation. In your dear name, all of the names above Jesus our righteousness, our shore foundation, our Prince of glory, and our King of love. Jesus our righteousness, our sure foundation, our Prince of glory, and our King of love.
We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling. And needing more each day your grace to know, yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing. We rest on you, our shield and defender. Yours is the battle, yours shall be the praise.
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor, victorious, we rest with you through endless days. We rest you, our shield and our defender. We go not forth alone against the foe. Strong in your strength. Safe in your keeping tender. We rest on you. And in your name, we go.” My friend, rest on the sovereign strength of the one who enfolds you. He secures your well-being.