Psalm 91:9-13; Mark 16:17, 18
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
I was coming home from Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania. As pastor of United Baptist Church of Taylor, I was often calling on parishioners who had been admitted to one of the three Scranton hospitals. This was a late night emergency visit! One of the men of my church had experienced a heart attack! I spent a brief moment of prayer and encouragement with the patient in the emergency room, and some extended time with the family. I left about 2AM to drive home to Taylor, about four miles away. The January night was cold. As I left the hospital I turned right on Pine Street and headed down the Scranton Hill section, driving my 1972 Plymouth Fury, a gem of a car with very few miles on it for a twelve year old automobile. I was a half-block away from North Washington Avenue when the traffic light turned green, so I was just driving straight through to Wyoming Avenue.
All of a sudden a voice shouted, “Slow down!” It surprised me so much I screeched to a stop before I drove through the intersection. At that moment a car ran the red light on Washington Avenue at about a hundred miles an hour! I would have been right in the path of that car with perhaps deadly results! I looked around to see who had warned me. No one was on the sidewalks at two in the morning! Besides, the windows of the car were closed, and I had the heater going full blast! I even looked in the back seat of my car – the voice was that loud and distinct! I came to the realization that the Lord had most likely sent His angel to warn me of the collision!
This was not the only time God has rescued me from serious injury or death – that I know of! But I will save other incidents for another time.
The point is, the truth of Psalm 91:9 through 13 can become very real in a Christian’s life:
Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample un- derfoot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him....
Obviously, this Scripture applies to Jesus! During His temptations on the mountain in the wilderness, Satan tempted Him three times. The second temptation is recorded in Matthew 4:5 and 6:
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city [Jerusalem], set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is writ- ten: “He shall give His angels charge concerning You,” and, “In their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash Your foot against a stone.”
Notice, although the devil quoted verse 11 of Psalm 91, he left out seven important words: “…to keep You in all Your ways.” All of Jesus’ ways (what He said and did) were directly received from the Father! For He told the Pharisees in John 8:28, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak [and do] these things….” And since obeying Satan’s command to “…throw Yourself down…” was not part of the Father’s plan for His Son, He didn’t do it! He responded to the devil’s temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.” (Matthew 4:7).
The interpretation of our featured Scripture is directly associated with the Lord Jesus, but it also applies to us! How is that connection made?
- Jesus is called “…the Son of God….” (Mark 1:1 – see also Luke 1:35; John 1:34; 20:31; Hebrews 4:4; I John 5:20; Revelation 2:18).
- We are also sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus! (see John 1:12). That means, Jesus is our elder brother, and we are His younger siblings! (see Hebrews 2:11).
So, Christians have the protection of the LORD, and of His mighty angels, just as Jesus did! According to Hebrews 1:13 we are told concerning God’s angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” That does not mean we can act foolishly and expect to get away with it. Some wag has said, “Remember that if you have a lead foot on the accelerator of your car, guardian angels retire at 65!” We must always live to please the LORD by obedience to His Word! Note that the opening two verses of Psalm 91 (the Psalm of our first featured Scripture) read as follows:
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust.”
What is “…the secret place of the Most High…” in which we are to dwell?
- I Chronicles 16 includes a psalm of thanksgiving written by David (see also Psalm 105). In verse 11 we read, “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!” (see also II Chronicles 7:14). Seeking God’s face is a biblical injunction that we are to get to know intimately the whole Person of the LORD…
✞ ...how He thinks! ✞ ...how He loves! ✞ ...His compassion for His children! ✞ ...His hatred of sin! ✞ ...His planned salvation for all mankind! ✞ ...the cost of that salvation! ✞ ...His judgment of all the wicked!
…and so much more.
- I believe the best description of living in “…the secret place of the Most High…” is Paul’s declaration in Philippians 3:10 through 14 of the goals of his Christian life:
...that I may know Him [Jesus Christ] and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrec- tion from the dead. Not that I have already at- tained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Is that your goal? Is that my goal? To know Him, to follow Him, to trust Him, to the end of our days? – “…even the death of the cross…”? (Philippians 2:8).
We will tackle Mark 16:17 and 18, the second featured Scripture concerning God’s Protection in the next Gem.