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A mighty fortress is our God
Thoughts on the extent and degrees of God's protection for those who love Him
Psalm 91

Last week we took a look at Psalm 89 which addresses the subject of the certainty of God's promises- even when it appears that they have fallen to the ground and it looks like their is little hope of their being kept.

This morning we are going to take a look at Psalm 91

-One of the most loved of Psalms
-A Psalm overflowing with enthusiasm and confidence in God and His fatherly love
-A Psalm that has been a source of strength and faith in the hour of trouble for countless
-A psalm which has inspired and encouraged many to face their fears with godly confidence
-A Psalm detailing the extent and degrees of God's protection for those who who love Him

READ TEXT

Confession: As amazing as a Psalm as this one is, I have really wrestled with it this week- for it's the boundless enthusiasm and straight up confidence of the text rattles me a little bit -mostly because things don't always work out (at least in this life)- God's children do get sick, do get harmed, are treated unjustly, don't always live long lives)

As I've wrestled with the text, I've come to appreciate it in new way -seeing the main point: God's protecting hand is upon those who love Him- and to Him alone I must go- for He alone saves.


LESSONS, PRINCIPLES, APPLICATIONS OF THE TEXT

1. We have a heavenly Father who loves and cares for us more than we can imagine

-We have a Heavenly Father who in love sent His Son to die for us while we were yet sinners
-We have a Heavenly Father who invites us to cast all our cares upon Him
-We have a Heavenly Father who will never leave us or forsake us
-We have a Heavenly Father who invites us as his beloved sons and daughters to rest under His wings
-We have a Heavenly Father who protects us from the seen dangers and the unseen attacks of the evil one
-We have a Heavenly Father who provides for our physical needs
-We have a Heavenly Father who doesn't throw us away and reject us when we sin against Him
-We have a Heavenly Father who notes the injustices done and who says "I will repay" "I will ensure that justice is done"
-We have a Heavenly Father who commissions His angels to come to our aid
-We have a Heavenly Father who -if it be His will- can deliver us from any situation


2. To be a follower of God is to come under His protection

Note the extent and degrees of God's protection that are declared

-Protection from the fowler's snare (those who wish to trap and enslave/sell/eat/destroy)
-Protection from the deadly pestilence
-Shielded by God
-Covered by God
-Delivered from the fear of the terrors of the night
-Protected from the arrow that flies by day (war, attacks)
-Protected from plagues that destroy (A big deal historically***)
-Safe, though thousands die to the right and left
-Delivered from the punishments of God that fall on others
-Kept from harm and disaster
-Protected by His angels (ministering servants sent to help us)
-Safe from wild animals
-God at our side in the midst of trouble
-Long life
-We shall see His salvation

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper"

This is the ultimate package in terms of security and protection- and it doesn't just cover this life but eternity. Nothing on earth can rival this. No person can supply these things-- they are only found in the Lord Jesus Christ, they are only found in relationship with God


3. The promise of God's protection- which is real and eternal- comes with a couple of caveats

Some of you may already be voicing an internal objection to this text saying "Why didn't God protect me or....." This is a legit question- one that many of the Psalms and biblical writers wrestle with

a. You have to be right with God! You must become His child. You must be reconciled to Him

Note these verses..

"He/she who dwells in the shelter of the Most High" v.1
The one who says "I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and fortress, my God, in whom I trust" v.2
"the one who "makes the Most High their dwelling" v.9
"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name" v.14

In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the Apostle Paul, by the leading of the Holy Spirit writes; "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."

One does so by putting their faith in Jesus Christ as their only Savior and Lord- coming to him with their sins to be forgiven and in faith

b. In laying hold of the promises of God in our text we must also remember these 4 words "Thy will be done"

Sometimes the big plan of God- the one that involves His glory, the crushing of Satan, and the salvation of others - means hard times for us.

Around Job God had set out a hedge of protection. Satan asserted that the only reason Job followed God was because of His blessings and protection, God temporarily allowed Satan to afflict Job to prove otherwise.

While God's hand of protection is never really removed from us (for He will never leave or forsake us), sometimes we will experience persecution, sickness, death, and great hardship- and not because of we are sinning against Him, but for a greater purpose tied to the advancement of His kingdom.

As hard as it is for us we must hold on to the truth that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28


4. Many a saint has appropriated/laid claim to the promises of Psalm 91, what about you and me?

In reading up on this Psalm I noticed how it heartily encouraged Charles Spurgeon

Verses 9-10. Before expounding these verses I cannot refrain from recording a personal incident illustrating their power to soothe the heart, when they are applied by the Holy Spirit. In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighbourhood in which I laboured was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave. I gave myself up with youthful ardour to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions. I became weary in body and sick at heart.

My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it. As God would have it, I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker's window in the Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore in a good bold handwriting these words:

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window I gratefully acknowledge, and in the remembrance of its marvellous power I adore the Lord my God. The psalmist in these verses assures the man who dwells in God that he shall be secure.

Though faith claims no merit of its own, yet the Lord rewards it wherever he sees it. He who makes God his refuge shall find him a refuge; he who dwells in God shall find his dwelling protected.

We need to lay hold of the promises of God- Challenge, memorize some of Psalm 91- put the promises of God in your heart.


5. Psalm 91 connects us directly to Jesus. Note how v.11-14 are joined to Matthew 4:5-7

In Matthew 4 the temptation of Jesus is recorded. Before his public ministry Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit. After fasting for 40 days and nights Satan came to Jesus and tempted him- first Satan tempted him as it regarded his hunger. The second of the temptations of Christ was as follows....

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 "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.'" 7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'

A couple of lessons

1. The Devil knows the Word and how to twist it -We need to know and divide the Word aright
2. Jesus is the Son of God- He didn't need to prove it to the Devil (In his earthly ministry he revealed His Divine identity clearly and called people to follow Him)
3. Jesus knew the Word and how to refute the Devil -we need to know the Word
4. Picking up on our recent point re caveats as it regards the promises of Psalm 91, Jesus teaches us the same: Jesus' message "Don't test God". Don't be fool hardy. Herein Jesus shows there are boundaries to how one applies these promises.
5. Jesus' victory over all temptations and his perfect life showed Him to be the Son of God and qualified to die as a once for all perfect sacrifice for our sins- that we might be forgiven and have eternal life in relationship with Him.

CONCLUSION

-Psalm 91 is a great psalm that is meant to inspire us to put our trust in God
-We have a loving heavenly Father
-His hand of protection is upon us
-Lay hold of the promises of God. Nothing is too hard for Him. Don't be afraid to ask Him in faith for the desires of your heart
-Give all your fears and anxiety to God - Make God your fortress and refuge- For He will spread His wings over you
-Let us rejoice again in seeing how the Scriptures always point us to Jesus our Saviour

Trust God
Challenge: Pick a couple of verses from Psalm 91 to memorize