Sheltered By The Loving Arms of God
The Ninety-First Psalm beautifully explains the saving, delivering, and lberating power of God.
Careful study of this Psalm can help you put to rest every fear and doubt, knowing that when you're sheltered by the loving arms of God, He will portect you!
"He that dwelleth 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.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler."
God is our refuge in times of trouble. And, to me, no other passage of Scripture in the entire Bible more fully describes the protective power of God than the Ninety-First Psalm. To obtain a deeper understanding of God's power, let's examine this Psalm in depth and find out how we can take shelter under the protection of God's loving arms.
Did you notice that verse 4 says God will cover you with His feathers and under His wings shall you trust? Unless you've lived on a farm where chickens are raised, you probable don't understand the significance of this statement.
People who live on a farm know that when danger is on the horizon, a mother hen spreads her wings and covers her little chicks with her feathers. Then she pulls her chicks in close - right underneath her wings. In fact, she hides her chicks from danger with her wings.
Well, just as a hen protects her chicks, God safeguards you with His strength and shelters you will His protective power!
One vital lesson that we can learn from the example of the hen and her baby chicks is the value of communication. Christians need to learn that lesson because, unfortunately, many believers fail to communicate with God. In other words, they neglect meditating in His Word and spending time with Him in prayer.
I don't understand how the entire animal world works, but I do know that chickens ( and other animals) have some form of communication among their own kind. As a young boy, I saw it in action at my grandpa's farm when I would sit and watch the hens with their chicks. I noticed that there was continual communication between them. A mother hen was always clocking, and her little chicks were constantly "cheeping" back to her!
Often, I would see four or five hens in the barnyard, clucking away! And although each one of them had several little chicks, the chicks knew the difference between their mother's voice and the voices of the other hens in the yard! That's because of the constant communication between the mother hens and their chicks. Then when danger approached, the mother hens would each make a warning noise, and the little chicks automatically knew that they were to run to their mother so they could hide under their mother's wings.
Spiritually speaking, we must stay in constant communication with God for the sam reason -- so we can hear God's voice when He speaks. God wants to protect His children from danger too! When we maintain a strong life of prayer and communion with God, we live sensitive to the voice and leading of the Spirit. That's important, because God through the Holy Spirit will warn us about impending dangers. But we must be careful not to override His leading.
A minister once told my father that he was in a serious car accident because he ignored a warning from the Holy Spirit. This minister and his wife had been traveling from California to Texas to visit relatives. As the minister was loading their luggage into the car, he felt impressed to wait a little longer before beginning the journey. But he overrode the stirring in his heart, thinking, That's just my mind playing tricks on me. Well, he started out on his trip and later found himself in the middle of a horrible chain-reaction accident involving several cars. His wife was severely injured and almost died.
Although the accident was not the minister's fault, it could have been avoided. You see, if that minister had heeded the warning from the Holy Spirit, he would not have been on that particular stretch of highway at the particular moment the accident occurred.
We all need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. One way we can become more in tune with the Spirit of God is by praying without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). THat doesn't mean that we should have a 24-hour-a-day prayer meeting! It simply means that we are to be in constant communion with God in our everyday lives. Also, we don't always have to pray out loud; we can pray silently, to ourselves, and still communicate with God (1 Cor. 14:28).
Another way we can stay in tune with God is by reading His Word and meditating on His promises (we have to know the promises in order to use them!)
You see, when we stay in communication with God, He will lead, guide, and protect us. That's why we have to recognize His leading and be careful not to override or reject it. For example, sometimes while driving home from work, I have felt impressed to take a different route than I normally do. When I've had those promptings, I followed them.
Someone said, "Oh, just believe God and drive the route you usually do." But, no, the Holy Spirit tries warn people to protect them from danger. When He is trying to lead someone away from danger, that person can "believe God" all he wants to, but if he doesn't heed the leading of the Holy Spirit, he will get into trouble.
Some people try to act like "superfaith heroes" who laugh in the face of danger, thinking their faith will protect them. Certainly, we are to use our faith against the attacks of the enemy. But we're not to neglect the leading of the Spirit. Begin led by the Spirit is "waking by faith and not by sight" as much as believing and quoting scripture is!
I wonder if some of those "superfaith" people ever noticed that the Apostle Paul, a man of great faith, paid attention to the warning he received in Damascus when he fled from the city by night (Acts 9:23-25). Even Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, gave heed to a natural warning when an angry crowd picked up stones to throw at Him. Jesus slipped through the crowd, and He lived to preach another day and fulfill the plan of God for His life (John 8:59)
But today, many Christians would rather stand and shout, "I'm a person faith, and I'm not going to run away and hide! I'm not going to let the devil defeat me; I'm going to fight to the finish!" I'm not minimizing faith at all, but sometimes it's spiritual pride that causes people to say things like that, especially when they are discounting the leading of the Holy Spirit. Some people have even mistakenly rebuked the devil, thinking he was trying to get them into fear about a situation when, really, it was the Holy Spirit who was trying to communicate a message of warning to them.
Have you ever had the impression that you shouldn't do something, yet you didi it anyway and ran into a problem? In most cases, if you would have followed your first impression, you wouldn't have gotten into trouble.
When people follow those particular leading or impressions and avert trouble, many call it a coincidence. But, no if you're a believer, that's the leading of the Holy Spirit! If you're abiding in the secret place of the Most High, the Holy Spirit will warn you to seek protection under God's "wings" or under the shelter of God's loving arms.
God wants to protect you, but He can't when you walk away from Him or you're wandering too far away from Him in your Christian walk. As we saw in the illustration of the mosther hen, when danger approaches, the hen gathers her chicks under her wings. And she'll fight to protect her chicks until there's no life left in her. As long as the mother hen is alive and her chicks stay under the shelter of her wings, those chicks will be protected. But if those chicks wander or stray too far from the mother hen, they will be ensnared by trouble.
When you take refuge and remain under the loving, protective arms of God, it doesn't matter what a situation looks like or how you feel, you can not be defeated!
Let's go back to our text and continue our study of the protective power of God.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
I like the pormise of verse 7. It coincides closely with Psalm 23:4, which says, "Yea, though I walk through the vally of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." In other word, when you "walk though the valley of the shadow of death," you will remain unscathed! No harm will come near you! And when others lose heart or compromise their stand of faith, they are as "the thousands falling around you" (Ps. 91:7). As long as you continue to abide under the shadow of the Almighty, maintaining continual communication with the Heavenly Father, He will protect you!
If you want to see God's protective power work in your life, you must make Him your refuge and trust Him completely. The next few verses promise that when you do, God will protect you supernaturally -- He will even dispatch angels to watch over you.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For HE SHALL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE OVER THEE, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
We live in a dangerous world where terrorism, murder, drug abuse, and divorce and the destruction of the family are widespread. Millions of people live in fear because of those things. But as Christians, we don't have to be afraid. God is our defense! With the Lord as our shelter and protection, no evil can overwhelm us!
Quite often, I use this passage of Scripture from our text in praying and thanking God for protection in my own life. For example, if I hear that there's a tornado heading our way, I begin to thank the Lord for His protective power working on my behalf. Time and time again, I use my God-given authority to claim the promises of these verses. I use them to pray over my family, our home, our belongings, etc.
I place myself, all that belongs to me, and all that I am responsible for under the defense of the Lord. And you can do the same. But you need to understand where your authority lies. You don't necessarily have authority when it comes to praying over someone else's belongings. You only have charge of what belongs to you. Every believer must place himself under the protection of God's loving arms. Unless he is a child or a baby Christian, no one else can do it for him.
I remember hearing the story of a homeless woman who had learned how to claim God's protection in her life. A local pastor had ministered to her and had taught her that God covers us with His wings -- His loving arms -- to protect us.
4 He shall COVER THEE WITH HIS FEATHERS, and UNDER HIS WINGS shalt thou trust....
One day, a group of men approached this homeless woman to attack her. The woman cried out to God fro protection. She couldn't remember the exact wording of Psalm 91:4, but she knew that it said something about feathers. So she just began to holler, "In the Name of Jesus -- feathers!" When she did, the men turned and ray away in terror!
I believe when that woman called upon the Lord, He understood what she was talking about! Of course, I don't know what those men saw, but there's a great possibility that they saw an angel standing behind the woman. I guarantee you that if I were a sinner and saw a giant supernatural being appear before me, I'd turn and run away as fast as I could too!
This story of the homeless woman shows us that when we stand on God's Word and run into His loving arms, He will protect us. God never slumbers or sleeps. He is omnipotent, and He is our defense! There is nothing that can stand against God! We have to truly believe that -- no matter what is going on around us.
Several years ago, another minister and I traveled to Africa to conduct a conference in Kenya. When we walked off the plane and started toward the terminal building, I grabbed his hand and prayed, "While we're in this country, no plague shall come nigh us and no harm shall overtake us. We will be protected -- and we won't even be bitten by insects!"
Then we took a taxi to go to another town, riding over many miles of mountain road. It was raining, and the cab was sliding all over the road, but I was never afraid. Late that night, we arrived at our rooms and went to bed. I heard insects buzzing and flying all around my room all night long, but I was never bitten by one of them! I believed what I had prayed! In fact, we were not bitten on the entire trip! I believed that God would give His angels charge over me to keep me safe!
For he shall give his angels CHARGE over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
In the Berkeley version of Psalm 91:11, the word "charge" is translated "orders". Having been in the military, I understand orders. As a soldier, I learned that when a superior officer says, "That's an order, " you do whatever he says to do! You don't question it. You keep your mouth shut, turn on your heel, and go do it!
Likewise, in the spiritual realm, angels can only do what they are told. The Lord gives our angels orders, and they have to do what He says. And when we are abiding in the shelter of the Most High and acting on His Word, it reinforces those orders, and our angels have to perform God's Word.
Now if I were to take myself our from under God's protection through sin and disobedience, my angel's orders would become null and void. But I'm going to stay under God's wings, sheltered by His loving arms!
Let's look again at Psalm 91:13.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
In this particular verse, all the animals mentioned are symbolic of the devil. In this context, it's talking about their pouring our destruction and death. Well, what does the devil do? The devil steals, kills, and destroys (John 10:10). He goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). But the Bible says that believers are to tread on that lion! We can trample over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19)!
So when you find yourself in the midst of circumstances, you must use your God-given authority and cling to God in faith and love. Then watch Him show you how He can save!
14 Because he hath SET HIS LOVE upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. 15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
Some people think that if you get into trouble, God will get mad at you and forsake you. No! God will be right by your side when you're in trouble. Look at verse 15 in the Knox translation. It clearly says, "In affliction I [God] am at his side, to bring him safety and honour." God promised to deliver and honor you. He won't rescue you and then condemn you for getting into trouble. God will esteem you because you love Him and look to Him for help. He will also give you the satisfaction of a long life filled with His saving care (v. 16)!
Friend as long as you dwell in the secret place of the Most High God, He will shelter you with His wings. Hardships, adverse circumstance, and terrors may come, but God said that you don't have to fear any evil! You can trample on them! Even if everything seems to be falling apart around you, you can stand your ground, knowing that God will shelter you with His loving arms and protect you!
Extracted from Word of Faith - July 1997
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