As I have studied Scripture more, I have discovered many misconceptions that I had about God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. For example, I previously believed that God’s promises to believers were few.
As I study the Bible more, however, I realize that God offers many promises to us if we claim them. Like threads that weave through fabric, God’s promises are woven throughout the Bible and sometimes only seen upon close examination. Psalm 91 is such a promise.
Psalm 91 is often referred to as the “Soldier’s Psalm,” because it offers refuge and protection in times of danger. However, it isn’t limited to soldiers. It is available to all believers.
Psalm 91 is a comforting, generous offer of protection from God:
We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all gods. This I declare, that he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he rescues you from every trap and protects you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wing! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor. Now you don’t need to be afraid of the dark anymore, nor fear the dangers of the day; nor dread the plagues of darkness, nor disasters in the morning.
Though a thousand fall at my side, though ten thousand are dying around me, the evil will not touch me. I will see how the wicked are punished, but I will not share it. For Jehovah is my refuge! I choose the God above all gods to shelter me. How then can evil overtake me or any plague come near? For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will steady you with their hands to keep you from stumbling against the rocks on the trail. You can safely meet a lion or step on poisonous snakes, yes, even trample them beneath your feet!
For the Lord says, “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name. When he calls on me, I will answer; I will be with him in trouble and rescue him and honor him. I will satisfy him with a full life (literally, with a long life) and give him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:1-16)
Yet Psalm 91 is a conditional offer. It doesn’t just happen because we believe. It requires that believers declare their choice and actively seek God’s protection. Specifically, it requires that believers declare that God alone is their refuge; their place of safety; their God; and, that they are trusting Him to protect them. And not just say it, but believers must mean it. They must trust God — not just say that they do.
Because of variations in Bible translations, many believe the declaration must be said aloud — they believe it requires more than a thought. In the words of author Peggy Joyce Ruth who has studied Psalm 91 extensively, “We are not told to simply think the Word. We are told to say the Word.” I don’t know if this is true, but it makes sense to me. When I say something out loud, it becomes “real” to me.
Ruth continues, “To abide in the shadow of the Almighty, we must first choose to dwell in the shelter of the most high.” In an exercise of the free will God has given us, we are obliged to choose God as our only god and to seek refuge with Him.
When people ask for God’s protection consistent with the instructions of Psalm 91, God answers their prayers — often in ways that are miraculous. In Ruth’s book entitled, “Military Edition, Psalm 91, God’s Shield of Protection,” C.B. Morelock, a war correspondent in World War II, “…reported an unexplainable and miraculous occurrence: sixty German aircraft strafed more than the four hundred men who were pinned down on the sandy Dunkirk beaches without the benefit of anyplace to take cover. Although the men were repeatedly attacked by machine guns and bombed by enemy aircraft, not one single man was hit. Every man in that group left the beach without a scratch. Morelock stated, ‘I have personally been told by Navy men who picked up those particular survivors from Dunkirk, that the men not only recited Psalm 91, but they shouted it aloud at the top of their lungs!”
Does this mean that Christians who choose to live in the shadow of the Almighty, call on God for His protection, and trust Him to protect them, will never experience any hardships? I’m not a Biblical authority, but I do not believe that Psalm 91 means that at all. I believe that whether you are a believer or non-believer, everyone will experience hardships and challenges at some point in our lives. The question is whether we will face them alone?
For example, Jesus said, “The world’s sin is unbelief in me.” (John 16:9) For those who believe, there is availability of God’s goodness and protection, and of deliverance from judgment. But believers who follow Jesus and share His message also share His burdens. Christians who live in the shadow of the Almighty and have given themselves to Jesus often are hated and persecuted. According to Jesus, “The world would love you if you belonged to it; but you don’t – for I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave isn’t greater than his master!’ So since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you! The people of the world will persecute you because you belong to me, for they don’t know God who sent me.”(John 15:19-21)
Whether we choose God as our only God and give ourselves to Him is a decision only we may make for ourselves. No one can make it for us, and we cannot choose God unless we also believe in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is a personal decision that will govern our relationship with God. It is a personal decision that will shape our eternity.
Finally, the decision to claim God as our only god should not remain a secret. For as it is with love, a secret relationship with God is no relationship at all.
Photo credit: Staff Sgt. R.J. Lannom, Jr