Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Psalm 91 - Living Close to God

This psalm describes the experience of one who finds his refuge in God. It looks as if verse 2 is a response to verse 1, and that verses 3-13 are then a response to the speaker in verse 2. Perhaps verse 1 was spoken by a priest or religious official at the temple inviting people to draw near to God for safety. Verse 2 is then the response of the psalmist in which he states his resolve to trust in the Lord. Then in verses 3-13, the priest details the benefits that will come to the psalmist as he trusts in God. It is clear that the Lord speaks in verses 14-16, and these verses are his confirmation of what has been said in verses 1 and 3-13. So we could say that this psalm contains an example of two kinds of assurance: the first is the comfort conveyed through another believer who uses God’s Word (vv. 3-13) and the second is God speaking personally to the worshipper (vv. 14-16).

The place of safety (v. 1). Here we have an Old Testament description of what it means to live near to God, to enjoy fellowship with him. The believer who does so will make God his home and spend his time experiencing divine favour. How should we respond when we read such a description? Perhaps we will say that it is too high to attain. If that is our initial reply to this spiritual possibility, we should note how the psalmist responds in verse 2.

The affirmation of faith (v. 2). Upon hearing the description in verse 1, the psalmist states his resolve which is to go and speak to God and say that he is aware of the security he has received from his covenant-keeping Lord. Although these blessings are available for all of God’s people, the psalmist wants to state his personal trust to God. No doubt, he wants to do so out of gratitude.

The security magnified (vv. 3-13). In these verses, the original speaker explains how safe the psalmist is. The speaker takes several deadly situations from real life and uses them as illustrations of the security God gives. No-one could guarantee safety from a trapper or during a plague or from an invading army or from wild animals, except God. These illustrations depict the security of the individual who trusts in God. The Lord will ensure that they have heavenly protection (vv. 11-12).

The intervention of God (vv. 14-16). God then reveals why such a believer is so favoured. The reason is that he loves God and understands his character (v. 14), and this has been achieved by spending time with the Lord. God reveals that such a devoted servant will have answered prayer (v. 15), divine company (v. 15), divine deliverance and reward (v. 15) as well as satisfaction throughout life (v. 16). Who would not want to trust in such a God?

The devil quoted verses 11 and 12 to Jesus when he was tempted in the wilderness. Perhaps the Saviour was meditating on this psalm and the devil tried to distort its meaning. Or maybe the devil realised that this psalm was describing one who could not be harmed by any danger, in other words, a sinless person, and therefore tried to get Jesus to sin. No doubt, Jesus fulfils in the highest sense the spiritual experiences detailed in this psalm. He always lived close to his Father, he was protected throughout his life from danger (apart from the cross), and he was given a great reward by his Father at the ascension.

No comments:

Post a Comment