Welcome to Welling, for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. We’ve had to deal with insurance for the last few months trying to get them to pay for some of the treatments that I’m going through. The group health plan with which I had coverage or so I thought for 40 some years they declined it, definitely declined twice. So we could not get it covered.
The joke is that a group health plan is only effective if the whole group gets sick. Coverage is an important concept. That’s why we buy insurance for life and health and car and all this good stuff. But coverage has its limits, isn’t it?
Our exposure in Psalm 91 to the God Almighty, the most high, the covenant God, your God, the refuge and the fortress has no limits. He’s there to carry you and to conceal you. His coverage is both a prevention and a protection. He prevents danger and prevents knowledge of others about where you are. He protects you even if you are in trouble.
This double down sandwich we’ve been talking about where God’s work in shadowing you and sheltering you and being a sanctuary and a stronghold for you will later on be covered verses 14 to 16 about an unbelievable covering of you. Still has some enfolding that the psalm is actually wonderfully brings to light in terms of specific realities. In verses 3 to 8 we talked about the specific realities of darkness and night being of terror. Of plague and pestilence to those who are traveling worshipers, traveling workers, traveling warriors.
In the second part of the enfolding, which sits right under the juicy part, we have another set of verses of great assurance for you. But God not only covers you, but carries you. He conceals you and he carries you. You prevent some things from approaching you, but then lifts you from the challenges that you face.
In this section, verses 9 to 13, he says, “because you have made the Lord by refuge,” that goes back to verse 2, doesn’t it? “Even the most high your dwelling place,” remember verse 1? “He who abides in the shelter of the most high dwells in the shelter the most high, remains the shadow of the Almighty.”
He looks now forward from verses 1 and 2 into the next section. “No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.” Prevention and protection. “He will give us angels charge concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands that you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down.”
There is one who is victorious over both human level attacks and demon level attacks, the one whose most high who surrounds you who enfolds you. He is the enfolder. You’re the enfolded in the enfolding.
And yet this question comes as to how would the psalm apply to us if there is no unconditional guarantee that everything is kept away from you? We all know believers who have been beheaded for their faith.
Those who have followed Jesus faithfully who have had to be persecuted for their faith. Well, that’s why we have some sort of lament. The entire book of the psalms has implications where the psalmist himself is persecuted. So this is not an absolute guarantee against persecution and suffering, but it is an assurance that God will not permit what should not touch you. And even if it touches you, he carries you in that touching.
In this very Psalm a little later on you will find the psalms being assured that if we call on God in the time of trouble the psalmist is already experiencing. Trouble, some of us know the other great psalms where the wicked are prospering until the psalm is gets the perspective of being in the temple and sees that God is for him, not against him. So the kind of guarantee that comes from these assurances and promises is not a means of testing God to see if you can get away with walking at the edge of trouble and persecution and suffering. You’ve got to use wisdom, but you’re not going to be afraid of taking bold, strong, courageous steps for God.
Satan misapplied the psalm with the Lord Jesus. That’s how we know this psalm. He wanted Jesus to do what he wanted, used the psalm. The only time he quotes directly from the Old Testament scripture, he twists it. And the Lord Jesus said, you shall not tempt. Don’t be presumptuous, Satan. I still am God. And there is a time of trouble yet for me, so don’t try to keep me from trouble. And yet, he will carry me at the right time.
You know, Jesus on the cross could have called a legion of angels, as he said. They would have been there right for the assistance, and yet to you, as those who are his servants, believers, there is a whole theology of angelic assistance. Demons may attack, but other supernatural forces will assist you.
You will be protected. Not for presumption, but there is a power, the power of God, who commissions his angels to keep you and carry you from any hurt, so that when you see these sudden dangers and experience the unexpected, you will have enough strength and fortitude in order to defeat them as God wills. What is humanly possible will be yours, because God commissions his angels to minister to you.
AS Hebrews 1:14 says, he sends his ministering angels, or there are times when you will experience this prevention. And prevention and protection, they go together. It seems like prevention is where risk management happens, where protection is where you’re protected. Both are yours. Both are mine.
When we get to heaven, we will know the number of times God prevented us from danger, and we’ll say, oh, we came that close to distress and death. But even through that, he takes us, with his angels carrying us. Christians are not guaranteed a trouble-free life, but they’re guaranteed the presence of God in the troublesome life. That which he prevents us from, we don’t know. But that which we experience, we will know his presence.
A couple of months ago, I was in Germany, and I heard a beautiful composer. Germans seem to be able to compose some of the best music in the world. He’s a contemporary German composer, Siegfried Fietz. He’s written over 4,000 songs. But the most popular song of his, translated into English, is called “By Gentle Powers.” It reminds me of Psalm 91.
He actually took the last piece of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writing. At the end of 1944, in the depths of the war Hitler was unleashing in World War II, this German pastor wrote this beautiful song to his fiancee, to his parents, not knowing that a few months later, four months later, he’ll be executed by hanging. He’s wishing and hoping that he will get to see his fiancee and parents, knowing that all of us are surrounded by such true and gentle powers so wondrously consoled and without fear. Thus, I’ll spend with you those final hours, and then together enter a new year.
He wasn’t given that privilege just a few months later. And yet during that time, he says, by gentle powers lovingly surrounded, with patience we’ll endure. Let come what may. God is with us at night and in the morning, and certainly on every future day.
By gentle powers lovingly surrounded, with patience we will endure. Let come what may. God is with us at night and in the morning, and certainly on every future day. I don’t know my future. You don’t know your future. But with gentle powers, he carries us. He covers us. Rest. Rest in the sovereign one who enfolds you. He secures our well-being.