Because he cleaves to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows My Name. When he calls to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation. Psalm 91: 14-16
I have heard this Psalm read at many funerals, and I have made it a practice to read it before many of the funerals I do. It ends with one of the most powerful assurances in the Bible, “With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.” After all, what could be more powerful than God assuring us that we will see His salvation! The most important verse of this Psalm is the last one, because it is the assurance of God love and protection forever.
However, this Psalm not only assures us of God’s salvation for eternity, but also assures us of God’s help in the present. God tells us that the reward for “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty”, (Psalm 91:1) the one who “will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in Whom I trust,’” (91:2) can expect to be:
~delivered “from the snare of the fowler and the deadly pestilence” (91:3)
~covered “with His pinions” (91:4)
~to find refuge under His wings (91:4)
~to not fear terror, arrows, pestilence or destruction (91:5-6)
~to have angels to guard us (91:11)
~to tread on the lion and the adder (91:13)
~to be delivered and protected (91:14)
~to be answered when we call, and comforted when we are in trouble (91:15)
~rescued and honored by God (91:15)
~to eventually see the salvation of God (91:16)
That is a lot of protection and assurance!
All of this presupposes a decision to place ourselves in the shelter of the Most High, a choice to live in the shadow of the Almighty. That “shelter” includes worship in the church, as well as making our home a place of worship, a place that is God-centered. The “shadow” of the Almighty means doing everything under the umbrella of God.
These are two significant decisions which are certainly challenging to implement. Going to God’s “shelter,” going to church each Sunday is the easiest part of this. It is certainly of critical importance. Outside of worship, we need to establish our homes as “temples,” as places of shelter where we not only eat and sleep but where we pray, where we talk to our families about salvation, and where we do our part to serve one another inside our homes, as well as a commitment to serving outside of our homes.
Doing everything in the shadow of God, under His umbrella means doing EVERYTHING in this way. It doesn’t means picking and choosing the ways in which we will honor God, and choosing the times when we won’t. It means making this choice consistently. And that’s hard.
“No evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent” (91:10) seems like a little bit of an exaggeration, as evil befalls everyone, and we will also suffer from some kind of scourge—sickness, bad news, etc. I interpret this verse as evil cannot defeat the goodness of God. Evil will visit us, but it cannot topple us if our faith is strong. Scourging refers to punishment. Jesus was scourged and whipped before His Crucifixion. We will not be punished by God if we have faith. We might be punished by one another, but we will not be punished by God for our faith.
I hope I will never have to tread on a lion or a serpent (an adder is a poisonous snake) (91:13). This verse assures us that our faith will allow us to pass through times of danger and stress because God will protect us. It doesn’t assure us that there will never be danger and stress, only that God will walk with us, and will send His angels to guard us and guide us.
This Psalm is a perfect epitaph for a long life. Because after a life of faith, surviving stress, danger, sickness, and whatever other challenges come our way, this Psalm concludes with God’s powerful promise to show us His salvation.
Dwell with God by making your home/workplace His temple by glorifying Him in all that you do. Abide in His shadow by making every decision under His umbrella. Make today a day you take one more step toward His salvation!
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in Whom I trust.” For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hand they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under food. Because he cleaves to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect he because he know My name. When he calls to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation. Psalm 91
Read this Psalm often. It is very reassuring and empowering!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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