According to Psalm 91:1 the safest place in the world to be is in a “shadow”! That’s what the psalmist suggests when he says: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Not only is the imagery of “feathers” and “wings” (see previous post) used describing our “secret hiding place” in God (Psalm 32:7), but also a “shadow”, and that being “the shadow of the Almighty”.
If you have lived in a hot place, you will understand how important shade is. In the height of summer when you turn into the shopping centre carpark what do you search for? A parking spot under the shade of a tree, if possible. The sun, as wonderful as it is, can be very painful at times and we need to be protected from it by going into the shade – the shadow of another object. Like shade on a very hot day, is the shadow of the Almighty in times of trouble.
How much closer to someone can you get than their shadow? And that’s the point, I think. To be up close and personal with God (i.e. as close as under his shadow) is to be safe. My shadow wouldn’t bring anyone much comfort or shade, but God’s is different!
So, how is this possible? What is it about our relationship with God that can result in such incredible intimacy with the Creator of the universe and then mean we are under his protection no matter what comes our way? Well let’s see what the psalmist suggests.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
9 If you … make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you…
Firstly, we need to have an attitude and desire to be close to God. In fact, a desire to “dwell” with God, to be at “rest” in his presence.
Other psalms express this deep longing to be in God’s presence, such as Psalm 42, where the psalmist says:
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Do we have such a deep longing for our Father? If not, ask God to give you such a desire.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” …10 no harm will overtake you,
Faith/trust is involved. Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Do we really trust God in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in today?
- “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him…”
Jesus said the greatest commandment was: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37)
John in his first letter spoke of love. He said, “How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God…This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us…God is love…This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins…” (1 John 3:1, 16; 4:8, 10)
Have we any reason to not love such an amazing Saviour God?
14 I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
9 …God exalted [Jesus] to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father
then acknowledging His name above all other names seems like pretty good advice!
- Prayer 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
Breuggemann speaks of this promise as “the most striking formula [revealing God’s] profound commitment [to us]…’When he calls to me, I will answer him’.”
He continues, “The initiative of trust and petition belongs with the [psalmist]. But Yahweh is resolved to answer and is very sure…none will prevail against [our] God.” (see references # 2)
Jesus taught and lived a life of prayer and there is little doubt that he desires that we also should live this way
And, so the promise of God to us is that:
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
But you may ask, how is all this possible? In myself I have so little desire for God, so little love, so weak a faith! The answer ultimately is “Christ in you”.
In “The Believer’s Secret of the Master’s Indwelling” by Andrew Murray, he quotes Colossians 3:4 which says, “Christ, who is our life”. He speaks of the relationship and source “of [the life of Jesus, the Son] before God [the Father].” He says, “It was a life of absolute dependence, absolute trust, absolute surrender” and this was the very “principle of His life” which we need to understand” and apply as we seek to live the Christian life. This is what the indwelling Christ in us, as believers, desires to teach us and live through us. Are you willing?
And then as we live “in Christ” we will begin to understand just how secure we are resting in the “shadow of the Almighty”.