I recently returned from a trip to easily one of our most difficult areas to evangelize. Our missionaries and volunteers have been persecuted, beaten, they have been threatened, their churches and homes vandalized, and yet still they continue to minister. At times, in our private moments together they often ask me, why is God allowing this. I wish there was an easier answer than the one I usually give them, one that would put an end to it all soon, but for that I cannot give them hope. But what I can give them… is a promise.
One passage I rediscovered recently that has a powerful message of encouragement comes from Psalm 91:1: He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. KJV
Occasionally at an initial read through of a passage like this, no doubt it is filled with hope and encouragement, but a deeper look helps to more deeply appreciate what the Psalmist writes and more specifically how to apply it.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High.” This describes the person who makes their habit, their “habitation” to place themselves where they can be under the protection of “el-yone,” of He who is Most High. That is, generally in life this person chooses to submit themselves and put themselves habitually into and under the care of He who is Most High. This place is where he lives, its where he resides, its his habit. The first part of the promise is the condition which must take place for the second to occur.
“…shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” While the word “dwell” is used in the first part of the passage, “abide” is a different word, but similar enough to make us think it is somewhat of a synonym. But a closer look at that word dwell is the difference between “home”, where you live, and “lodging,” where you stay when you aren’t at home.
So upon deeper reflection, the Psalmist encourages the reader with this thought: For the person that chooses to live habitually under the safety and protection of “el-yone,” the Most High, who chooses to live according to His Word, He can expect that same safety when he goes out into where it is dangerous, into enemy territory.
The world is not friendly to Believers, even strong Believers! Maybe even particularly strong Believers. The persecution is great and the fear of it is real. But God, now called “Shaddai,” or almighty and most powerful protects us under his shadow along the way. He who shelters us when we put our faith and trust in Him in everyday life offers protection when we face the trials of the real world and when we leave the places of safety.
Fear keeps most Christians from achieving God’s best for their lives, and the Psalmist reminds the committed follower of Christ that God Himself will protect us and shadow us as we venture out into whatever danger we might fear ahead of us.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes Jr.
February 13, 2023