Psalm 91 – A Prayer for Times of Fear and Exposure
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
We are now living our lives – COVID-19 permitting. Or at least that is the message that is coming from the TV, social media, from our president and the healthcare experts. Much more can be said, but if you are anything like me you are in shock. We are missing the power of human touch and the comfort of ordinary time spent with friends and family in Christ.
We can say this out loud, “Social distancing sucks.” Go ahead. We all feel this way. God designed us for community. But for the sake of love of those at risk and because we are all exposed now, we must keep our distance.
And it is good to be honest. We are exposed right now. Exposed to fear. Exposed to sickness. And yes, exposed to the fear of death. I imagine that right now we look much like the crowds in Jesus day:
“When Jesus went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” ~Mark 6:34
Now this is where Psalm 91 comes in and tells us a better and truer and safer story than anything the media can tell you:
We live, Lord-willing. He is the One who protects and provides. His mercy and power come together and promise to be with us in our trouble. He is our refuge.
Here’s my goal in the coming days. Let’s meditate on Psalm 91 together. Psalm 1 promises that if we meditate on these words day and night, we will be like trees who continue to bear fruit even in desert heat, because God is with us. This means the gospel gives us roots and a supernatural strength to go through hard times: God with us.
So take a moment now to go read the Psalm 91. All of it. I want these words to become familiar, so that you can say them to yourself as you lie in bed.
This Psalm divides into three sections:
- 1-2 – Declaration of Faith (I am talking to God)
- 3-13 – A Vivid Description of God’s Protection (I am told how God will care for me)
- 14-16 – God’s Promise to Us (God is speaking to us, so lean in)
Start here by declaring your faith to God Himself using vs. 1-2. You may feel exposed, but you are covered by God’s presence and power. We dwell in His shadow, under His wings. Let’s find some comfort together by looking at the four divine names used for God. Each name moves God closer to us. Watch this:
1 - God is the Most High – this is a title for God which “cuts every threat down to size.” Nothing happens outside of His Sovereign power and permission. This name is comforting when we are weak and vulnerable. Though the Most High sounds distance. He moves closer.
2 – God, the Almighty – This is the name God used with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is the God who swore to keep His promises for Abraham even if it means shedding His blood. The Almighty God walked with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and as He worked to make Abraham a great nation and bring about the child who will crush evil and restore God’s good creation (Genesis 3:15). Now the Most High is looking at us.
3 – the Lord – Yawheh – God is the Lord – Moses first heard these words in Exodus 3. Yahweh means “I am”. And in the context to Moses and now to us – His name means “I am with you.” The Lord drew near to Moses in the burning bush.
4 – my God – God is now mine. Is there anything more intimate that personal pronouns that claim personal possession? The Most High, the Almighty, Lord is my God.
The Most High dwells with you in your living room as you say by faith, “My God!”
Add one more detail. This goes straight for your anxious heart. Who says, “I am” in the New Testament?
John 8:58 - Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Jesus is the Lord in the flesh, who shows us who is keeping us safe. Say to Him and to your fears, “My refuge, and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
The cross of Christ shows us how serious God is about being our refuge and fortress. Christ was forsaken so we would be welcomed in and made forever safe through His resurrection.
Now lift up your prayers to Him.
Grace and peace to you from this God we just meditated on!
We can also sing these realities to one another. Here are a couple options:
All Must be Well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3zeRwnywG0
It is Well with my Soul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY5o9mP22V0
 Derek Kidner, Psalm 73-150, 364.