“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91 verses 1-2)
I just love the verses at the opening of this psalm. The poetry of the psalms is so engaging. We do not know who wrote this one (King David wrote very many of them, but presumably not this one since we are not told). The psalms were the hymns of the Jewish people for thousands of years, since they were written.
They are poetry, illuminating truth. These words are to heard with the full emotional, spiritual sweep of the phrase, not as a checklist.
What does ‘dwelling in the shelter of the Most High’ mean? Well the Most High is God. (We call a monarch ‘Your Highness’ and likewise we recognise that God is higher than monarch. (I am very moved when Queen Elizabeth recognises God’s reality and makes it clear she submits to him).
What is the shelter of the Most High? Nothing literal, but alludes to the state of being close to the King, and enjoying the benefits of his protection.
And it seems this shelter that offers protection, also gives peace, as would any stronghold that protects you from the battle raging beyond the gates. ‘Peace that passes understanding,’ the Bible calls it – in other words that doesn’t make sense, that bypasses the intellect.
If you are sheltering from enemy attack in a city and the king comes out and offers you protection in his fortress, you may be comforted…as long as he remains King. Our King is the Most High King. He is eternal – outside of time – he is able and willing to offer us protection.
So often we just take a temporary dip under the porch of the shadow of the Almighty.
Yes I want to actually dwell there, where can I sign up?
I suppose we can only trust that his protection is effective at all times when we see that our journey through difficult terrain is still within the boundary walls of his castle. It’s easy to get discouraged and to think we lost our way; that if we had followed the right path we wouldn’t be meeting such hardship. Good to remember at those times that Jesus is our model: he was completely righteous yet suffered. His version of success often did not look like success to the disciples, for instance when his best friend Lazarus died and Jesus did not seem to have been insightful about the need to visit…until the moment he visited the dead body and resurrected Lazarus from the dead.
We will trust God and allow ourselves peace even in the midst of war, as long as we have a clear view of his ability to meet our needs. As we gain clearer sight of who he is, discovering his immensity; finding out that he knew our situation all along and loves us; growing in security that his love is unconditional: that’s when we dare take another step towards trusting him in full.