Tag Archives: Psalm 91

An Autopsy of My Fears

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For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;

Psalm 91:11 (NIV)

In this riotous year of 2020, I have endeavored to keep my mouth shut and both my eyes and ears open. The division and discord have been palpable, but I have truly desired to be an agent of peace, love, and unity. I confess that I haven’t been perfect, but it was my endeavor. Never in my life have I felt James’ directive so necessary and difficult when he wrote:

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”
James 1:19 (NIV)

One of the observations I’ve made this year as I’ve watched and listened is how individuals respond and react to fear. It’s led me to meditate on my own fears. What is it that I’m afraid of? The truth of the matter is that I have had no fear of the coronavirus, but I have really struggled with fear of business failure and financial loss. I have become more dutiful in wearing my mask when I’m running errands out in public, but I confess that it’s not because I’m afraid of getting COVID, but rather I’m afraid of offending others. I also had no fear about who America’s president would be, but I did struggle with fear about my personal future.

Today’s chapter, Psalm 91, stood out as I read it for its unwavering confidence. If you haven’t noticed, many of the psalms are laments and expressions of all the human emotions that come along with personal struggles, spiritual struggles, and national struggles. There’s none of that in the lyrics of this song. Psalm 91 could be a prosperity preacher’s theme song. It’s a “name it and claim it” treasure trove.

The verse I spotlighted at the top of the post is interesting because it was quoted by Satan when he was tempting Jesus at the launch of His public ministry. The story goes like this:

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

As I pondered this, it struck me that at the end of Jesus’ forty-day fast and facing the enemy’s temptations, angels did attend to Him. And, on the night before Jesus was to be crucified, angels once again attended to Him in His agony. The promises of Psalm 90 were true. Those promises, however, were not that Jesus could confidently get or have what He wants, but that He could confidently and faithfully accomplish what He ought.

In the quiet this morning, I find myself circling back to my fears. The forensic autopsy of my fear leaves me realizing that I have a relatively easy time trusting God with the big things, the cosmic things, and global things. My struggle is trusting God with the small things, the personal things, and the things that hit me where I am personally most vulnerable: my pride, my purpose, and my provision.

Is that where an enemy target’s their prey? Attack the weak spot. Hit the places where they are most vulnerable.

I read through the ancient Hebrew lyrics of Psalm 91 once again. Jesus’ example provides me with such crucial context. The psalm is not about me avoiding all pain, suffering, or hardship. The angels, after all, shored Jesus up in the Garden so that He could fulfill the way of suffering and sacrifice: quite literally His journey to death, hell, and back. Psalm 90 is about having the confidence that, as long as I am seeking to faithfully pursue God’s purposes for me, I can be assured that I will not be left alone or forsaken. I will be spiritually provided with everything I need to finish the journey. Maybe not in every moment I want it so my life can be easier, but every time I truly need it so my life can accomplish my own role in the Great Story.

Want to Read More?

Click on the image, or click here, to be taken to a simple, visual index of all the posts in this series from the book of Psalms.

There is also a list of recent chapter-a-day series indexed by book.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Dwelling

crossroadsabc via Flickr
crossroadsabc via Flickr

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1 (NIV)

Wendy and I love our little house. Because we both work out of home offices, this house is where you will find us most of the time. With the exception of stay-at-home parents with young children and those who are retired, the average person spends most of their waking hours away from their house in school, in an office, or on the job somewhere. He or she only comes home to eat and sleep and maintain some of the other necessities of life. It is the opposite for Wendy and me. We live together in this house most all of the time. We may go out to church, go out to socialize, and go out to recreate. I am required to make business trips to other cities and we will visit our dwelling at the lake. But, when we’re home we’re generally right here in our house 24/7/365. We eat, sleep, work, rest, and recreate right here with one another pretty much all the time.

The lyric to Psalm 91 recognizes blessings and benefits to those who dwell in God’s shelter. I thought of this in light of Wendy and me and our little house this morning. I tend to believe that most of us approach God much like a convenience store or fast food restaurant. We dwell someplace away from God 99 percent of the time, but we pay a visit once or twice a week for spiritual supply and provision, or perhaps simply out of a sense of obligation. But this is an altogether different paradigm and is exactly opposite of the word picture painted by Psalm 91 which calls for us to co-habitate with God day and night. The picture presented in Psalm 91 is us dwelling in God’s presence. We are present with God and God is present with us in our work, our sleep, our meals, our recreation, our hanging out, our chores, and our rest.

Today I’m grateful for my life and the blessing of getting to live and work the way we do. I want my relationship and life with Wendy, here in our little house, to be a reflection of my relationship and life with God…dwelling together.