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The Lord Our Refuge

This world is a planet under siege. Satan holds it in an iron grip. It is a world where terror and atrocity are commonplace, especially in lands where the gospel has never brought its blessings or where God’s Word has been set aside. There are countries in the world today where naked terror is the order of the day. For people living in such lands Psalm 91 must be a constant court of appeal. It is a psalm which will come into its own, in full fruit and flower, during the great tribulation. It anticipates the needs of the small believing minority in Israel during that coming reign of terror.

Already the world is preparing itself for the coming of the great beast out of the sea. Observers of contemporary culture believe that we have already entered what is called “the age of terror.” In the United States alone the FBI estimates that some fifteen thousand people are members of clandestine terrorist organizations. They tell us that the relative quiet is really a deceptive calm and that before long we can expect a major outbreak of terror in this country. There are estimated to be between fifty and one hundred terrorist organizations mobilized around the world. Water supplies of the major cities and nuclear power plants are targets scheduled for attack. Terrorists are acquiring increasingly sophisticated weapons and some say they will even use homemade atomic bombs.

The psalmist lived in a violent age, too. If the writer was Moses, we know that he and his people had just escaped the concentration camps of the Nile. History’s attempt at genocide, the extermination of a race, had been foiled only by divine intervention.

If the psalmist was Hezekiah or the prophet Isaiah, he lived under the threat of terror. The oppressor of that day was another great northern power—the empire of Assyria. The Assyrians were international gangsters who backed their campaigns of terror with a formidable war machine. The world trembled whenever Assyrian kings felt the need to prove themselves on the battlefield. Any city which resisted demands that it surrender was made a public example. Leading citizens were skinned alive or impaled on sharpened stakes to scream out their closing hours in unspeakable torment. The balance of the population, young and old alike, were deported to some far-off land and thoroughly dispersed in order to destroy whatever national unity they might still have. The Assyrians made as much use of terror as they did of troops to enforce their will on the world. The Assyrian nightmare haunted the ancient world for centuries.

As for our passage. “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night,” said the psalmist. It might be terror of darkness, of defeat, of disease, of destruction at high noon—no matter! There is a hiding place: “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.”

We need always to remember when interpreting these wonderful psalms that they are part of the Hebrew hymnbook. These are not gospel songs, written for those who have put their trust in Christ since Calvary. They are old Hebrew hymns and belong primarily and essentially to the nation of Israel. We need to exercise spiritual discernment before claiming such promises as blanket guarantees of wellbeing today.

The Old Testament blessing for Israel included national prosperity and divine protection. So long as Israel walked in step with God there was not a nation that could defeat her in battle or successfully invade her land. The godly Jew could legitimately claim the promises of Psalm 91 in an hour of danger and could expect that, although people fell all around by the thousands, neither the flying arrow nor the sinister pestilence would come near him.

But we are not Old Testament Hebrews. We are New Testament Christians. For us God’s blessings are essentially spiritual rather than national and temporal. We have no unconditional guarantee from God that, so long as we live godly lives, we shall escape the ordinary terrors of life.

But do whe have a no hiding place from terror? Indeed we do! God does not keep us from terror; He keeps us in the terror! The Lord himself goes through the troubles with us. {1}

As I have found in my recent life you just don't thank people for their prayers, but you actually receive those prayers into your life. You invite God into the midst of your trouble to help you see more clearly and live unto his praise.

In Christ

Bro. Chris

[1] Phillips, J. (2012). Exploring Psalms 89–150: An Expository Commentary (Vol. 2, Ps 91:5–10). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp.

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