The Importance of Protection
Psalm 91 has been a passage that has seen its fair share of misuse. There are many Christians today who would argue that this Psalm is assuring Christians a healthy, care-free and long-lasting life. As pastors, I am sure that we all know, or will soon know, that this can’t be the case.
Take for example a pastor out of Asia that David Platt was able to meet. Where this pastor lives, Christianity is illegal and punishable by a lengthy time in prison or, in some cases, even death. One day, he was walking with the pastor through the streets of his town. As they passed by some officers, they smiled at one another and went along their way. Stunned, Platt looked at the Asian pastor and asked him, “Why were you not just arrested?” The pastor responded with, “because every time I go to prison, the church around here grows immensely in size, so they figure it best to leave me out so it doesn’t grow as quickly.” I would venture to say that he can attest that Psalm 91 probably isn’t speaking towards our physical well-being.
So, what then is Psalm 91 speaking to? And how as Pastors can we apply it to what we go through on a daily basis?
We can understand four things by looking at the text, and that begins with…
1. The assurance that God protects His people
In Psalm 91:1-2 & 9-10 we see a description of who God is as our protector. He is our refuge, the Most High, the Almighty, our fortress, trustworthy, and our dwelling place. I specifically love the term refuge, as the definition is “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.” God is constantly shielding us from danger, and hiding us in His arms from trouble. As Pastors, let us run into the arms of our refuge, our Messiah, Jesus Christ, who, according to John 1:29, is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
2. How God protects His people
In Psalm 91:3-4 & 11-12, we are gifted with an understanding of how exactly God protects us. However, what the Psalmist writes in these verses are a little more deep than we would typically give credit towards. We are immediately given the picture of being rescued from traps and destruction. Then, we move to being shielded by the body of our God, repeating this idea that God is our refuge once again. These areas of destruction offer more than physical damage – it's an attack worse than the nerve endings could fathom. This attack is a spiritual one, a sinful one full of malicious intent and anguish. Thanks be to God that not only are we defended physically (in many ways), but we are ultimately defended spiritually as we are shielded from the trap of sin and the effects of its destruction. As pastors, we need to be careful of what we are attempting to fall into. Let us not fool ourselves into believing that we are immune to the traps and snares of the enemy. Be aware of your traps, of what is keeping you from going deeper with Christ. Then run towards Christ and be shielded by His work on the cross.
3. What our response to His protection should be
In Psalm 91:5-8 and 13, we are now being told what God wants our response to be towards His protection over us. He tells us not to fear, and that we will “tread on the lion and the cobra.” However, I would argue that most would say that this is easier said than done. God has given us a way out of fear and a pathway to victory, yet sometimes we choose to take another path, one filled with terror and destruction. I believe that, at times, whether we admit it or not, we want to walk through these paths alone. We want to face the terror of night, attempt to block the arrow that flies by day, avoid the plague and pestilence that stalks in darkness and ravages at noon. This way, if we somehow find a way through it, we can then credit ourselves as victors on our own behalf. Fortunately, praise be to God, this is just simply not how it works. We cannot overcome without God, lest we be conquerors of our own lives, ignorant of who God is. Thanks be to God that we, adopted sons and daughters of the Kingdom, know that ignorance may be bliss only for a season – but that ignorance is not absolute.
God shields us, protects us, hides us all spiritually from the traps and snares of the enemy. He does this all for one reason, and that is because “we know His name.” God does everything that He does for us, as his sons and daughters, because we know who He is. That is why it is now more important than ever to lead people to question, “who do you say that Jesus is?” This, one could argue, is the most important question that they could ever answer.