Sermon: In the Shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91)

Discovering Christ in the Psalms:

In the Shadow of the Almighty

Psalm 91:1-16 (ESV)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

[2] I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

[3] For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence.

[4] He will cover you with his pinions,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

[5] You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

[6] nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

[7] A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

[8] You will only look with your eyes

and see the recompense of the wicked.

[9] Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—

the Most High, who is my refuge—

[10] no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

no plague come near your tent.

[11] For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

[12] On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.

[13] You will tread on the lion and the adder;

the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

[14] “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

[15] When he calls to me, I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

[16] With long life I will satisfy him

and show him my salvation.”

Moses is credited with the authorship of Psalm 91.  He was in a great position to pen these words, because he had so many experiences in trusting God as he led God’s people through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.  He could write this Psalm because he could attest to the Lord’s faithfulness in many different trials.  This Psalm was true for Moses.  Moses had seen God work.  He was a good choice.

The subject of Moses’ song is the secret dwelling place of God in which all true believers are invited but few come and dwell.  Some believers enter into the secret place when trials come or when some dire need arises but very few take up residence there.  The desire of God is that we not just remember Him in tough times but remember Him in good times as well.

The promises of the Psalm are glorious in nature and are conditional toward God’s people.  For the residence of this secret place they are true.  For others, they are not.

Moses presents our Truth Taught this morning and we find it in verse 1:

TT- He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

1- Moses’ Personal Experience (1-2)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

[2] I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

God has a shelter for His people and it’s under His shadow.  When we are in sweet communion with God we enter into this special place where nothing can penetrate.  This place has a door in which we enter and the door is a door of trust.  We commune with God as we trust in His protection and as we have fellowship with Him.

There is probably no better fit for these first few verses than when Moses found himself standing on the banks of the Red Sea with the multitude of Hebrews behind him and the Egyptian military bearing down hard on them.

Moses had been dwelling with God.  The Bible says that Moses had a special place in God’s economy as a prophet in that he was the only prophet with which God spoke with face to face.

Deut. 34:10 (ESV)

And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,

On the banks of the Red Sea, Moses brought all the Hebrews into the special place, that refuge and fortress.  He led them to enter the door of trust as they all stepped out into the sea bed with water walled up on each side.  That day, God did a miracle in all their midst.

Exodus 14:16-25 (ESV)

Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.  [17] And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.  [18] And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

[19] Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them,  [20] coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.

[21] Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.  [22] And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.  [23] The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.  [24] And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic,  [25] clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”

Moses experienced God’s protection and provision throughout the time in the wilderness and even before.  Moses and God had so many adventures together.  Moses trusted in God and His Word.  He completely recommends it to all of God’s people.

Notice how Moses switches from personal pronouns to second person pronouns.  In other words the deliverance and provision Moses experienced in the wilderness can be experienced by all of God’s people if we abide in Christ.

2. Moses’ Personal Endorsement (3-13)

[3] For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence.

[4] He will cover you with his pinions,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

[5] You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

[6] nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

[7] A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

[8] You will only look with your eyes

and see the recompense of the wicked.

[9] Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—

the Most High, who is my refuge—

[10] no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

no plague come near your tent.

[11] For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

[12] On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.

[13] You will tread on the lion and the adder;

the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Notice the degree to which the Psalmist goes to show God’s people that to dwell with Him is to be safe from many different dangers.

Some dangers are invisible…A Fowler’s snare, Disease, Things that happen at night, Arrows secretly shot at us by Satan, Pestilence.

Some dangers are in full view…Thousands falling in battle or because of sickness.

As we dwell with the Almighty we will find that we’re safe and secure.  Moses knew this truth all too well and he wants others to know this truth as well.

There is another who knew this truth even better than Moses did.  When Jesus did battle with Satan shortly after His earthly ministry began He experienced this same truth.

When Satan set His fowler’s snare for Jesus, our Lord was protected because He dwelt with God and had no worldly interests.  Because Jesus dwelt so closely to the Father, He was kept from Satan’s tricks.  [9] Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—

The Devil knew these verses very well.  He no doubt had been held at bay by God from attacking so many of God’s people over the years.  Satan knew that if he had any chance at all to tempt Christ and get Him off track he had to do it with the words from this Psalm.

Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  [2] And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  [3] And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  [4] But he answered, “It is written,

” ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “

[5] Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple  [6] and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

” ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

” ‘On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ “

[7] Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”  [8] Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  [9] And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  [10] Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

” ‘You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.’ “

[11] Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

We have here the only place in the Bible where Satan quotes Scripture and He intentionally twists it to serve his evil purposes.

to guard you in all your ways.

What the Devil does is to try and get Jesus to come out from under the protective will of God.  As Christ dwelt in the presence of God He was untouchable.  So Satan baits the hook and sets the snare.  Jesus had always remained under the shadow of God’s protection because He was all about trusting and fellowshipping and obeying God.  As long as Jesus’ ways were God’s ways He was safe.  As soon as He would have stepped out and followed His own will or agenda He would have been trapped.

We also know that because Jesus was God’s Son and His will and God’s will were perfectly in line that would never happen.

As Moses was the leader of the Israelites through the wilderness and experienced God’s provision and protection, so Christ trusted God in the wilderness as well.  Moses spent 40 days fasting prior to receiving the Ten Commandments and so Christ fasted 40 days to prepare for His earthly ministry.

Deut. 9:9 (ESV)

When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water.

Moses did so many wonderful things as he followed God but he failed one test miserably.  God told Moses to speak to the stone and water would come forth, but as Moses did previously, he struck the stone.  Moses failed the test.

However, Jesus passed the test.  Rather than turning the stone into food to satisfy His hunger, He trusted God.

3. God’s Promise to His People (14-16)

[14] “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

[15] When he calls to me, I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

[16] With long life I will satisfy him

and show him my salvation.”

The promise that Moses believed and obeyed is the same promise that Jesus believed in and obey.  Moses was kept from danger by dwelling under the shadow of the Almighty.  Jesus also knew this truth and obeyed God.  He remained under this same shadow and protection as well.

The same promise is for us today.  As we keep our ways within the realm of God’s purpose for us, we too will experience deliverance from danger.

Hold fast to the Lord in love and be delivered.  Don’t worry about tomorrow but hold fast to the Lord today and He will care for you…Moses understood this truth, Jesus understood this truth…I pray we too understand and act based on this truth.

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