“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 My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers , and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”
When Daniel was thrown into a den of lions, he trusted completely that his life was in God’s hands. God sent an angel to shut the mouths of those lions. When Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac, he trusted that Isaac’s life was in God’s hands. When satan attacked Job and took away everything he ever owned or loved, Job trusted God and rested in His decision.
The way we respond to the struggles in our lives can be the ‘do or die’ moment in our walk with God. Finding the strength to giving up your strength and relying on God is where many of us fall. How do we find the strength needed for this seemingly impossible task? The same thing that great, small, and in-between Christians and leaders do. Lose your strength.
I love the passage from Psalm 91 because it asks those who believe in God do give up their strength. It is one thing to have no strength and call out to God, but have you ever seen someone who has the ability to survive, give up it all to fall on God’s strength?
Verses 3 and 4 are both are promise and a challenge. We are given the distinct promise that when we are in need and call upon God, He is our refuge. He is our shield, our buckler in perilous times. But the verse mentions something else as well, it talks about how He shall cover you with His feathers. What on earth does that mean? Well, the entire Bible, including the Psalms, use symbols and images to represent an idea. The image of God literally covering His children can mean a few different things.
Protection: Being covered in the Bible is a way of saying protected. If you were covered by the church, you were either a priest, Rabi, or teacher. All of which receive special protections. These protections included tax exemption, housing, respect, and a general superiority to sitting governments. For us, this means that we receive a refuge, a place to fall back on. This promise that, no matter what our situation, we can trust in God’s Sovereignty and how He works all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Blessing: This practice actually continues in many churches and many faiths, and that is the passing of a blessing within families. To be given the covering of your father meant that you received special favor and benefits. How incredible that is! We not only receive salvation from Christ, but we are also given all of the benefits of being adopted and blessed by our Father!
Replacement: At face value, the entire image of God covering those who run to Him, in His feathers, reminds me of this fact. When Jesus died for our sins, we were justified. That is a fancy term for having all of our sins replaced by Christ’s perfect sacrifice. Another incredible thing about this, is almost a picture of Christ’s blood replacing our own corrupted lineage from Adam. God has covered us, not in new feathers, but in His own feathers. He has not only forgiven us, but He replaced all of our wrongdoing with Christ’s perfection. Think about that for a moment. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We have been given this incredible promise, not only of our refuge for difficult times, but also the promise that we are righteous and therefore can be in God’s presence.
This past year, I was asked at the beginning of my semester to give a creative representation of how I saw myself as a dancer. The picture contains two people, myself, and Christ. That semester was long and difficult as I dealt with the repercussions of an injury which I would subsequently receive surgery for. In the picture, I saw myself as a broken bird, created to be something, but without the strength to fly. I felt as if I was falling without hope into the unknown. However, I had a certain contentment, because I knew that, no matter what, I was i the hands of my Father. The hand of God truly was my refuge this past year.
The title of the picture was “My Refuge”. Even in the face of everything going wrong in our plans, we are always living according to God’s plan.
However, in Psalm 91 there is also a challenge. That is, the challenge to give up our strength, and to allow God to be our refuge. Possibly the most difficult thing we could ever do is rely on someone else when we could have done something ourselves. But that is exactly what God asks us to do. Paul tell us that he learned, in want and in plenty, in sickness and in health, in strength or in weakness, to be content. What is Paul known for? Relying on God’s plan. You know where he ended up? In jail. For years. Yet he learned to be content.
I am always amazed by Paul because he willingly gave up his own strength to fall on God. He was a smart guy. He could easily have relied on his own talents to get through. Yet he didn’t. Instead of arguing with people, He led them to Christ. And you know what? His imprisonment caused a spread of the gospel. Paul was imprisoned in Rome, and in order to get food, people came and fed him. Through this, Paul ministered to many just by trusting in God’s refuge. Not only did Paul end up where he previously felt called (Rome), but he also had a unique position in that people had to come to him eventually.
All this is to say, that even if we have incredible talents and skills, we still fall on God for refuge. He is our light, life, and song. We have the promise of refuge even when things do not go our way. Often, the struggles we find which take away our strength actually teach us to rely on God’s strength instead of our own. Struggles come and go, but God’s promises will never leave us nor forsake us. Take heart, and let go of the strength you frantically grasp. Even when you feel like you are falling, God is just waiting to catch you.
Be blessed today.