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Psalm 91 - Part Tree
December 2012

                Last month we ended with the glorious reassuring promise found in verses seven and eight.  “A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.  Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” The Amplified version renders verses 7-8 this way.  “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.  Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.”  If we compare Psalm 3:6, the word used for thousands is “rebâbâh.”  It can be easily translated “myriad.”  The word “myriad” would better represent the exact idea in the original, as the Hebrew word is different from that which is translated “a thousand.” It is put here for any large number. In other words, no matter how many fall around thee, on the right hand and the left, you will have nothing to fear.  What confidence and reassurance we have in His divine protection and care.  Put all your fears aside for you are under the protection and provision of the Almighty.

          This promise of reassurance is given immediately following a long list of evils that will not affect us.  These evils you are told not to fear, because you are covered with His (God’s) feathers and from under His wing you trust.

               The “thee” in verse seven is emphatic. Emphatic means it is expressed with emphasis.  It has an intensified marking in the text, and you should take special note of it.  The writer of this Psalm is saying that even though evil is all around you and it is causing thousands to fall close to you it will not effect “you”.  You will be a mere spectator!  What this promise of reassurance does is assure us that nothing can touch God’s servant but by God’s permission.  It also tells us that no one that has evil intent toward you will escape God’s retribution. 

We are warned by Luke that people will have evil intent toward a child of God, we will be hated, betrayed and maybe even killed for our faith; however, we are not to fear because not one hair on our heads shall perish.  Luke 21:16-18 “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.  But there shall not a hair of your head perish.  The apostle Paul repeats this same promise in the New Testament book of Romans. Refer to chapter 8: 28, 35-39And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?   Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  In other words, we may walk through the fire, but we will come out without even the smell of smoke (Daniel 3:27).

          There is one more observation that should be made here regarding verse eight.  How many times have we felt that God was slack regarding the punishment of the wicked?  Have you ever had someone cause you harm, even though you were totally righteous in your actions?  Or maybe someone took advantage of your kindness and you find out latter you were taken for more then your kindness?  Well, the writer of this Psalm had that happen to him on many occasions, and he like many of us prayed that God would intervene and bring forth judgment upon the wicked (refer to Psalm 18:40, 25:2, 35:19, 44:5, 54:5-7, 56:9, and Psalm 59, along with many more).  By the way, to feel that the wicked should be punished for their actions, especially their actions against you, a child of God, is not a sin.  God tells us that He will punish the actions of the wicked especially when they are aimed at one of His own.  Here in Psalm 91:8 after the psalmist had learned that God will and does judge the unrighteous on the righteous behalf, he proclaims loudly, only a spectator shall you be as you witness the reward of the wicked.  So there is no need to feel that God is slack or He does not see the evil actions perpetrated against you.  Be assured that you will witness the reward of the wicked.  This inevitable fact will to the attentive observer cause him to come to one conclusion, that there is after all a moral ruler over the sons of men, who sooner or later rewards the ungodly with due punishment.

          The sight of God’s judgment on ones enemies will reveal both the justice and the mercy of God; Romans 11:22; “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shall be cut off.”  The sight of God’s judgment softens our hearts, stirs up in us a solemn awe, creates gratitude and brings forth joy and adoration.  But at the same time it should also stir up a sense of dismay and compassion that the situation had to come to that, and that there was nothing else you could have done to prevent its inevitability. 

                Notice the reaction of Abraham when he observed the judgment of God (Genesis 18:20-33).  And the reaction of Moses and Aaron when they saw the judgment of God (Numbers 16:44-50), and David’s (1st Chronicles 21:14-28).  Each of these men of God reacted the same way.  They could not stand to see the punishment brought upon their enemies and did all they could to stop it.  Compassion for the unrighteous is a sign of a heart purified and recreated into the very heart of God.  Even though sin must be punished, it pains the pure in heart to see it.  How often do we pour out our hearts to the Lord to stop or slow down the punishment coming upon this world, in the hope that some might be saved?  How often do we pray that God will use us to prevent even one from feeling the wrath of God?  How often do we call upon God to use our hands, our feet, our lives and even more importantly our mouths to stop the plague of eternal punishment which is already running rapid through the world?  If we are not doing all we can in this area, are we at least praying that God would change our hearts so that it would be in perfect harmony with His? Once our hearts are in sync with God’s we would feel the same love and compassion that He felt when He saw the sins of man.  That love and compassion caused God to send forth His only begotten Son to die for the remission of that sin.  What would it cause us to do?

          The reason why we will only be spectators when the judgment of God falls on our anad His enemies is because, we dwell in the secret place of the Most High and we abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

          The key words to take special note of are “dwells” and “abide.”  To “dwell” simply means to remain sitting, to settle down, to inhabit or to remain.  The Hebrew word for "shall abide," signifies "he shall pass the night."  Abiding denotes a constant and continuous dwelling in the very presence of the Almighty.  The phrase "Passing the night" also signifies security and rest in time of darkness, temptations and calamities.  The psalmist is emphasizing that anyone who settles down and continuously inhabits the secret place of the Most High shall pass the night in the very presence of God.  The “passing the night” phrase signifies not the ten hours of darkness when the sun is not shining.  It does however; signify the total duration of any trial you may be passing through. 

There is a type of faith that causes a true child of God not to, as other men, run to and fro trying to hide in their own hiding place.  In the time of trial or tribulation and in the face of plague other men will be overcome.  However; the man with this depth of faith makes God his habitation.  And because you have made the LORD your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall happen to you; neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.  For He will give his angels charge over you, to guard you in all your ways, they will bear you up in their hands, so that you won't dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and cobra. You will trample the young lion and the serpent underfoot” (Psalm 91:9-13).    

          It is impossible that any evil should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord; the most crushing calamities can only shorten his journey and hasten him to his reward.  You see losses enrich man, sickness is his medicine, reproach is his honor, and death is his victory.  No evil in the strictest sense of the word can happen to him, for every evil is overruled and used for good (Romans 8:28).  Happy or blessed is he who is in such a case.  He is secure where others are in peril, he abounds where others fail. 

          This promise of protection and deliverance is not made to a believer just for believing, but for acting and exercising ones faith.  A believer who only believes will never receive this promise.  Because; you must “make” (verse nine) the Lord your refuge and the Most High your dwelling place.  Once you do that, you will receive the threefold preservation.

          He first one is “from” dangers.  According to verse eight, because you have made LORD your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall happen to you; neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.”  The second is “in” dangers.  For He will give his angels charge over you, to guard you in all your ways, they will bear you up in their hands, so that you won't dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and cobra. You will trample the young lion and the serpent underfoot.” Cross reference Job 5:19-20He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword.”          

          Third is “by” dangers.  Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, and by that danger he was kept alive.  Joseph was thrown into a pit, and afterwards sold into Egypt, and by these hazards he was brought up to be a guardian to the future church.  Faith is endangered by security but it is secure in the midst of danger, as Esther’s was when she said, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).  Paul’s thorn in the flesh, which had much danger and trouble in it, was given to him on purpose.  It was given him to prevent pride, which was a greater evil.  Paul put it this way;  “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2nd Corinthians 12: 7-9).  God did not say that no hardships would befall us, but no evil.  Dependence on Christ is not the cause of His hiding us, but it is the prerequisite for the person that shall be hid.

           Next month we will examine in greater detail the final six verses.  Until then may “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”

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