Peace Over Panic - Psalms 91
Introduction: Right now, we are living in a world that is caught up in panic. A disease, that you could call a plague has struck worldwide. The Coronavirus COVID-19 began in China and has spread throughout the world.
Infections: COVID-19: Approximately 153,523 cases worldwide; 2,508 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 14, 2020. Flu: Estimated 1 billion cases worldwide; 9.3 million to 45 million cases in the U.S. per year.
Deaths: COVID-19: Approximately 5,789 deaths reported worldwide; 51 deaths in the U.S., as of Mar. 14, 2020. Flu: 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide; 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.
COVID-19 may spread easier than regular flu and it is very serious for people over 60.
The media and politics have amplified the panic with people stockpiling toilet paper and hand sanitizer to the point that that is a bigger news than the virus itself. Air travel has shut down, the entire countries are quarantined, some to the point that people aren’t allowed out of their home but once a day. People are afraid and the panic has taken on a life of its own and may cause more damage to our nation and society than if the disease had gone undetected and unreported.
At the height of the depression when panic was a daily occurrence, President Franklin Roosevelt took office and in his inaugural speech gave one of the most famous lines ever uttered by a President. He said, “… first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Roosevelt was right. Fear and panic, whatever the cause, is a very dangerous disease when it affects a community or a nation. I do not have a cure for COVID-19 but I do have a cure for panic. Its right here in the Word of God.
For thousands of years man has turned to the pages of scripture to listen as God gives hope, comfort and assurance to His children. One of the reasons there is so much panic in our world today is because so many have quit listening to the God’s promises of protection and power over fear. This morning let us listen to the voice of God rather than the scream of panic as we turn to Psalm 91
Living In God Secret Place -Ps 91:1-8
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. 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. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
First Assurance: Living In God’s Secret Place - Psalm 91:1-8
Psalms 91 is not a guarantee of physical invincibility. No such general promise has ever been given by God to all of his children. God’s children get sick, they are involved in accidents, the do catch diseases like COVID-19 or even much worse. The 91st Psalm is not about an unfailing body it is about an unfailing faith. It is not about full protection, it is about full assurance. And that assurance, that faith in our relationship with God begins with the secret place. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Look at the description of the secret place.
A place of shelter. vs. 1 – We abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
A place of surety vs. 2. – He is my refuge and my fortress.
A place of deliverance vs. 3 – He shall deliver thee from the snare
A place of protection vs. 4 – He shall cover thee
A place of fearlessness vs. 5 – you shall not be afraid.
Some Rabbis in the Talmud considered these descriptions to be demons, Lilith, the night demon, Natoth, the demon of pestilence, and even a demon with one eyed demon, and no name that lays waste at noonday. When I read these descriptions, I found them bad enough that I don’t need to add demons to the mix to make them worse.
The last place we find in the secret place is a place of bravado. - vs 7-8. A thousand shall fall at your right, 10,000 at your left but it shall not come near you.
How Can We Find Such Assurance?
Having this kind of assurance happens when we understand what it means to “dwell in the secret place with God?”
The secret place is a place of shelter and nearness in the presence of God. It is a place available to all who would cling to God in times of trial and crisis.
Psalms 31:20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
The Secret place is entered first through faith in His Son Jesus Christ as our Savior.
John 10:7-9 Then said Jesus to them again, Verily, verily, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man shall enter, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Jesus is the entrance into this place of shelter, but we must choose to dwell there, to remain in that close protected contact with God.
There is a song we sing that captures the feeling, wonder and confidence of the secret place.
Dwelling in Beulah Land
Written by C. Austin Miles a pharmacist who gave up his job to follow his heart and be a hymn writer. He also wrote In the Garden and New Name Written Down In Glory and a favorite chorus of my grandfather, Wide, Wide as the Ocean. Dwelling in Beulah Land was written in 1911.
Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling.
Then I know the sins of earth beset on every hand.
Doubt and fear and things of earth in vain to me are calling.
None of these shall move me from Beulah Land.
Let the stormy breezes blow, their cry cannot alarm me;
I am safely sheltered here, protected by God’s hand.
Here the sun is always shining, here there’s naught can harm me.
I am safe forever in Beulah Land.
Chorus: I’m living on the mountain, underneath a cloudless sky.
I’m drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry.
O yes! I’m feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply,
For I am dwelling in Beulah Land
That song was written by someone who had experience the secret place with God and found peace over panic and the full assurance of their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Seek the “secret place” in your relationship with God, remove that which keeps you from God and find His presence. Then you first find full assurance.
Notice in vs. 9 how that assurance grows to an even greater confidence.
Located In God’s Refuge - Psalm 91: 9-13
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Second Assurance: Locked In Safety Loving God
The author, who many beleive was Moses, who also wrote Psalms 90, categorically states, that no evil shall befall the one who has made Jehovah his habitation, their dwelling place.
According to vss 9-13, The angels will protect thee (Only place in Bible that mentions personal guardian angels)
It says, you shall tread upon lions and poisonous snakes and dragons.
Because you have made the LORD your habitation, you are living in Him, no harm can befall you.
Now I believe this scripture, as I believe all of God’s word. I know that God cannot lie but sometimes when it comes to me and the real world dangers that can come into my life, I’m a little like …
Transition: The three-year-old who accidentally spilled his fruit punch on the floor one day. He decided to clean up the mess himself and dashed to the back porch to get the mop. Suddenly realizing it was dark outside, he became apprehensive about reaching out the door for the mop. His mother reminded him Jesus is everywhere--even in the dark. Mark thought for a minute. Then, putting his face to the door, he yells, "Jesus, if you're out there, will you hand me the mop, please?" - Kathy Gunter Martin, Dandridge, TN. "Small Talk," Today's Christian Woman.
Kept In Christ
So what assurance can I absolutely have from these last verses? Some have tried to say that this is a guarantee of physical invincibility. I think any of us who are adults and have been Christians for even a short length of time know that is extremely naïve and foolish. Christians die, they get sick, they suffer pain and sorrow, the get in car wrecks, they are martyred by the enemies of God and are often attacked by the god of this world and the sin that is all around us.
Didn’t Satan tell Jesus that these verses had that meaning, when he tried using this verse to tempt the Lord into throwing himself off the temple roof and proving that he was truly the Son of God and Messiah of Israel.
If anyone could have seen the invincible interpretation of this verse as the right one it would have been Jesus. Yet, Jesus responded to Satan by telling him, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." IE You do not dare God.
What is this passage saying then? In truth it is a promise of much greater value and worth than any false promise of physical protection. This is a promise of God’s ultimate and final protection, the greatest, most important protection that God does has given, the promise of the complete and total, protection of our soul.
When you think about it, what part of you can dwell with God right now? It is the part of me that is really me, the part of me that never changes, ages or can be destroyed, my soul. It is my soul that is lodged in God and He absolutely and without condition protects me from anything and everything Satan and this world bring against me.
John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
Romans 8:31-39 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is the place of total confidence in God. We have this confidence when we chose to be with God through Jesus Christ and we stay in this attitude of full assurance by choosing every day to dwell in Him.
Dwelling in Him means drawing all power for living from Jesus. When we do this He will give peace and assurance that is beyond anything we can find or imagine in ourselves.
When we dwell in Him, we fear nothing, for our soul is safe in our Savior. Nothing can back us down, nothing can turn us back and nothing can cause us to panic because we know where we are and who we are in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Illustration: I’m the Chicken Lady
We should be like the story I heard of a man named Christian Herter who was running hard for reelection as governor of Massachusetts, and one day he arrived late at a barbecue. He'd had no breakfast or lunch, and he was famished. As he moved down the serving line, he held out his plate and received one piece of chicken. The governor said to the serving lady, "Excuse me, do you mind if I get another piece of chicken. I'm very hungry." The woman replied, "Sorry, I'm supposed to give one piece to each person." He repeated, "But I'm starved," and again she said, "Only one to a customer." Herter was normally a modest man, but he decided this was the time to use the weight of his office and said, "Madam, do you know who I am? I am the governor of this state." She answered, "Do you know who I am? I'm the lady in charge of chicken. Move along, mister." Now that was a woman who knew her position and wasn't about to be intimidated. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 297.
When we are faced with this world and its threats, when we are confronted with fear, doubts and hopelessness. We need to be stare fear in the face and say, “I’m the chicken lady!” No, we need to stare fear in the face and say, “I’m a child of God, Jesus is my Savior, I’m washed in the blood and I’m standing on the Word. Now move along, Fear. Find someone else to frighten.”
There is still even one more assurance in Psalm 91, it may be the most important of all it is the assurance of love.
Locked In God’s Love - Psalms 91:14-16
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. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
The Third Assurance: Our Love Is Set On God
"Set his love" in Hebrew is khaw-shak' The Hebrew word expresses the strongest attachment and is equivalent to our expression “to fall in love.” - Barnes' Notes on the Old Testament.
It is the same word used in Exodus 38:17, 28 when talking about the rings that were used to bound the tabernacle wall together and make it one unit.
The Psalmist is telling that because we have set our love on God, we have bound, attached, our self to Him in that love, and God promises us that He will deliver us, and set us on high. He promises that because we know His name, He will come when we call. He promises that when we are in trouble He will be with us, He promises He will deliver us, honor us and give us long life and show us His salvation.
Have You Set Your Love on God?
To have the final assurance we must make sure our love is set on God. Make sure that you have given your love to God through His Son Jesus for only then can you stand in faith, when all the world around you has fallen in fear.
Listen to these New Testament declarations of confidence and assurance written by those who have set their love on God.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
John Bunyan, Knew The Full Assurance of God
John Bunyan was a Baptist preacher sentenced to Jail because he refused be licensed to preach by the church of England, the Anglicans, who become the Episcopalian in the United States. He spent 7 years in a jail used for thieves and murderers, filthy, damp and infested with vermin. He left behind his wife and three daughters, one of which was blind. He would weep uncounted hours over his family, but he never relented. He could not pastor, he could not preach. Once they offered him his freedom if he would just not preach anymore he said, “If you let me out to-day I shall preach again to-morrow.”
Bunyan had this great confidence, this full assurance because of his relationship with God. Even in the midst of a filthy jail cell, he was in the secret place with God. He wrote the book “Pilgrim’s Progress” for centuries the most printed book of all time except for the Bible. He also wrote the following poem about being a pilgrim.
He who would valiant against all disaster, Let him in constancy
Follow the Master.
There's no discouragement Shall make him once relent His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.
No foes shall stay his might Though he with giants fight;
He will make good his right To be a pilgrim.
Since, Lord, Thou dost defend Us with Thy Spirit, We know we at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I'll fear not what men say, I'll labor night and day
To be a pilgrim. - John Bunyan.
How is your confidence, your faith, this morning in the midst of a world given over to panic? If you have a constant, strong and loving relationship with God then you will be standing strong. A thousand may fall in fear on your right side and then thousand may fall in panic on your left side, but as a child of God, a soldier of the cross, a disciple of Jesus Christ, that fear shall not come near you!