Psalm 91: "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. 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. 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 show him my salvation".
Let's bow for a word of prayer together: Father, we thank Thee for the word of the Living God. We thank Thee that it strengthens us, it comforts us, it encourages us, it feeds us and gives us all that we need. To this end we come in need, emptied that Thou shouldst fill us. We come hungry, thirsty, for we know that them that hunger and thirst after righteousness, they shall be filled. Minister to us by Thy Spirit, we pray, and let us hear Thy voice. In the Saviour's name, Amen.
I've entitled my message this morning: 'A God of His Word'. We often hear what it is to be a man of your word and, here in this Psalm in verses 14 to 16 that we will concentrate on today, we find that our God is a God of His word. What else could we want in trouble? What else could we ask for in trial and in tribulation than to have the promise of God? Not only His promise, but His promise specifically of protection as we go through problems.
In the last three verses of this Psalm, if you look down at it - 14, 15 and 16 - you have six promises. A six-fold promise of God. One of the problems that we have as the church, and as individual believers trying to live in a modern, contemporary age, is that it is a great temptation to imbibe and to let infiltrate upon our hearts the sceptic mind that we find within our age. We often hear it said that it is hard to trust anybody today, it's hard to take any man or woman's word for any matter. We have a tendency inbuilt within us to look at the small print, to question everything, to [ask] within ourselves is something to good to be true - 'There must be something more, this cannot be real'.
If it's hard to trust our individual brothers and sisters in humanity, we must say that it is even harder to trust God at times - for God's word cannot audibly be heard, God cannot be seen in order that we grab hold of Him and put our trust in Him. The stakes are even greater when we are asked not only to trust God in the matter of a financial deal, or a business agreement, but we are asked to trust One we cannot see and cannot hear, upon peril of our lives. We are asked to stake our lives upon the word of God. That is a hard thing to do, but although it is hard the real question is this: is God a God of His word? Is God a God who can be trusted? Do we run into the danger of questioning God, and questioning God's word, like Satan did in the garden? Eve and Adam fell into his trap when he said: 'Yea, hath God said? Has God really said this? Or if it seems that God has said this, is that exactly what God means? Can you really take that at face value?'.
Indeed we find specifically, in regard to this Psalm, that Satan as he tempted the Lord Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew chapter 4 did exactly that - he diluted the word of God, he left part of the word of God - from these very verses - out in order that the Lord Jesus Christ, if He could possibly do it, (obviously the devil had a shot at Him) but that the Lord in some way could listen to the word of God, misinterpret the word of God, and act incorrectly upon the word of God, and fall because He was not trusting fully in the full word of God. Of course that is not possible for our Lord to do such a thing, but even as Satan tried to do it to our Saviour he will try to do it to us. He will try to make us selective in the application of the word of God. He will try, when troubles come upon us, to ask the question, to doubt God: whether He is a God of His word; whether He will come through for us; whether He will answer our prayers; whether His grace is sufficient for our need; whether He is strong enough to hold us up; whether He will go with us through the fire, through the water; when we go through the valley of the shadow of death, whether He will be with us, His rod and His staff to comfort us.
So the question I ask today is this: are we selective with God's promises when it comes to trouble? Or are we convinced, absolutely convinced, that the authority of the word of God, the medicine of Scripture, is enough for all our needs? To establish that faith within us the Holy Spirit gives us a six-fold promise of protection in verses 14 to 16 - He is promising His protection. Again, we must go over it, He is promising it if - if! - we make God our dwelling place, if we exercise trust and faith in Him who is our refuge and our strength. If we put our faith in His word He will protect us because He is a God of His word, because He honours His promises of protection.
Thomas Brooks, the great puritan, said: 'Men, many times, eat their words, but God will never eat His'. What else could be better? Let's face it: what else could we ask for in the midst of danger, in the midst of fear, in the midst of terrifying opposition from supernatural and natural means, what else could give us an assurance but the word of God Himself? John Flavel said: 'It is better to be as low as hell with a promise, than in paradise without one'. Do you believe that? Do you believe that? That God's promise means everything! Do you believe that God's promises are virtually His obligations that He imposes upon Himself? When He says in these three verses, six times, 'I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will', that He has limited Himself? Do you believe that? I believe it! I believe that God limits Himself to His word, because He chooses to do so!
If this is so, and I believe it is, we must ask the question that Martin Luther, the reformer, asked when he said: 'What greater rebellion, what greater impiety or insult to God can there be than not to believe His promises?'. So, what are these promises that we have before us today? Look at verses 14, 15 and 16 - and as you look at them you will see that God Himself is speaking, it is no longer the Psalmist. There is often confusion in verse 14 where we read: 'Because he hath set his love upon me', that 'he' is God and 'me' is me, but that is wrong - 'he' is the Christian and 'me' should be a capital 'M', God. It is God saying: 'Because this man has put his trust and faith in Me, and set his love upon Me, I will deliver him'.
So, how then can we be sure of God's protection? The first 'I will' - and I'm going to take you down the six 'I will's' in these three verses, God willing. First: 'I will deliver him', verse 14 - why? Consequence, condition: 'Because he has set his love upon me, I will deliver him' - do you know what that is? That is the intervening action of a sovereign God in our lives. Imagine: God steps out of eternity into time, and steps into my life to intervene with regards to the things that are going on. He will deliver us in that way, do you believe that? Yes! Why? Because God has said it! But there is a condition, and the condition is that you set your love upon Him - and that is a blessing that God only gives to them that love Him. It is not carte blanc for every Christian, every child of God, that when they face trouble, when they go through trouble, when they find disease, when they find divorce, when all these things come upon them and they haven't asked for any of it, there is no guarantee that they will be alright - only if they trust God!
If you turn to Romans and chapter 8 for a moment, we find a verse that is quoted so much that it loses its meaning - and that is our problem. Romans 8 and verse 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'. To them that love Him! I sometimes meet unbelievers and they talk about the love of God surrounding them as they go through sickness and trial, they talk about an assurance that they have outside of Christ! It's impossible!
'O, to be without a Saviour!
How can it, can it be?
Like a ship without a rudder,
In the wild and stormy sea'.
You need Christ! You need to love Christ, you need to live in Christ - and it is only those who love Him, and who are called by Him for His purposes, that He can work all things together for their good. The word 'love', the word in the Psalm, it says: 'He has set his love upon me' - do you know what it literally means? A deep longing for God! A clinging to God, the deepest affection imaginable - it is a love, literally, that expresses a deep confidence and dependence on God. In other words, if you love God it will drive you to God, and if you're driven to God you'll be protected by God!
Isn't that what verse 9 means when it says: 'Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation'? Isn't that what verse 1 means? 'He that dwells' - literally 'he that lodges for a night, he that stays in God just like he stays in his home'. What do you do in your home? You go away [from here], you take off your fancy dresses and fancy suits, you put your slippers on and you go in and you rest. There is a bathroom and you go to it for cleansing, you go to it to take away the waste that life brings upon you. You go to the kitchen and you're fed there, as one said: 'You cannot starve a man who is feeding upon God's promises' - if you're in the kitchen of God, feeding upon His word, feeding upon the Living Bread, drinking from the blood of the Saviour, if you are there you will never starve! You rise the stairs, and put your head upon your bed, and sleep the sleep of the righteous. In the attic of God there is a source of treasure, a storehouse of everything that we need, in the grace of God that is according to the riches of Christ Jesus. There is a garden that we can go into for refreshing communion like Adam did, like Enoch did - and we are at home in God! Christian, are you at home in God? That is an awesome question: do you feed upon God? Do you rest in God? Do you go to God for cleansing? Do you go to God for communion? Do you go to God for everything that you need in this life? For that is what the Psalmist is speaking of: setting your love upon God, praying to God, seeking God, the deepest affection to live within God - a deep confidence that drives us into God!
Is that not what the Lord Jesus said when He said: 'If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our abode with him - we will live with him!' James said: 'Blessed is the man that endureth temptation', or testing, 'for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him'. He says again: '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?'.
The first 'I will' is: 'I will deliver him, because he has set his love upon Me'. The second 'I will', look at verse 14: 'I will set him on high' - promise. What is the requirement? 'Because he hath known my name'. Now, there is security: 'I will set him on high'. Turn to Psalm 59 for a moment, and verse 1, very quickly - Psalm 59 and verse 1. Now, if you have a half decent Bible - and what I mean by that is not that the Bible isn't decent, but translation of the Bible and, indeed, a good copy with a margin in it - you will find in verse 1 of Psalm 59 it says this in the margin: 'Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: set me on high from them that rise up against me'. God setting you on high! Isaiah says of the righteous that the righteous 'dwell on high, their place is a place of defence, the place where they live shall be the munition of the rocks: bread shall be given to them; his waters shall be sure'.
Now, what do you need when you're in trouble? What do you need when the enemies and diseases, and everything under the sun comes in upon you? You need the Most High God to lift you up and to lift you above your circumstances. What a blessing to know that great Pauline truth that we are in Christ, in Christ! We are blessed with all blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and what does Philippians say about our Lord Jesus Christ? 'God has highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name' - and that means this: if you are in Christ you are set high.
I remember reading on one occasion about what eagles do when they're flying, soaring in the sky, and the crows come down upon them and peck their wings and pester them in mid-flight - do you know what they do? They soar higher to an altitude that the crows cannot reach! That is what God does for us when we dwell underneath His wing. We are enabled by His grace to 'Be still and know that I am God, and I will be exalted among the heathen, and I will be exalted in the earth'. This is not a health and wealth gospel, sure it isn't? You'd wonder how some men get things - in fact, they don't get it in the word of God - but how they come to such conclusions: that everyone ought to be healed, that everyone ought to be rich, that everyone ought to be successful - otherwise 'there is sin', or they 'don't have enough faith'. But is that true faith? Is that really faith? In the light of this Psalm surely faith is not to believe for a miracle, but faith is to trust God when the miracles don't come! Is faith not Job? 'Though he slay me, yet will I trust him'!
Where does that faith come from? Where does that 'being set on high', the consequence, come from? 'Because he hath known my name' - the cause of it, he has known My name. As the Psalmist said: 'And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee'. Galatians, Paul said: 'But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?'. If this is the God that you have, why would you run back to the world? Why would you run to the gurus of psychology? Why would you run to the New Age movement? Why would you run anywhere except to God?
If you look at verse 1, we studied and what did we see? We saw exactly this: that the person that knows the name of God, the person that dwells in the name of God, is the person that He will set on high. What were the names of God there? Verse 1: 'Most High' - Elyon, the possessor of heaven and earth, over all the earth. 'The Almighty' - El-Shaddai - not 'great in strength', but here it means 'great in grace' - all-bountiful in the supply of all of our needs and our desires. Verse 2: 'Lord' - Jehovah, the covenant God, the eternal God, the unchanging, immutable God. Then finally 'God' - Elohim, the Creator of all the earth - there it is! If you've known His name, He will set you on high.
The Most High, what a place to dwell! Above all the storms of life, where nothing or no-one can harm you or reach you. Under the shadow of His wing, from the torment of the rays of the Mediterranean sun. Under His wing, underneath this shelter from the devil and all of his hordes of hell, to be under his wing and to know that the Lord is thy keeper - the Lord is thy shield upon thy right hand. He is saying that God's name should create faith in Him.
Thirdly - first: 'I will deliver him because he has set his love upon Me', second: 'I will deliver him on high because he hath known My name' - thirdly: 'I will answer him'. Cause? 'He calls on Me'. He shall answer - isn't that wonderful? What a promise! The Psalmist said: 'I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid'. Isaiah said: 'It came to pass, that before they call I will answer'!
The Lord Jesus Christ personified that, didn't He? It never ceases to amaze me how the God-man, God manifest in flesh - great is the mystery of it - in all His omnipotence, all-powerfulness, Almighty God, but as He knelt in Gethsemane - and I don't really particularly know, or want to try to express what He saw there, but I'll tell you this: He was near unto death. Hebrews says that 'in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, was heard' - that is our Saviour, my friend. He was delivered, He was set on high, He was answered by God - why? Because He called upon Him! That is what prayer is, it is an exercise of faith and dependence on God in the midst of trial - and ought we not to do so if our Lord did it?
Fourthly: 'I will be with him in trouble', verse 15. 'I will be with him in trouble' - you have intervening action of God in our lives, you have God's divine security in His very name, you have answered prayer when you call upon Him, and now He will be with you in trouble, which is companionship in your need! Someone there! You're looking for someone there, aren't you? The widow left without their soul-mate, an orphan by death or divorce, a single person hoping that one day that right person will come along their path, and all of these scenarios - people going through these experiences, and they need a companion - well, here is a companion: God Almighty, Elohim, El-Shaddai, Elyon, Jehovah says: 'I will be with thee'! 'Yea, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil: for I am with thee'. 'Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness'. 'But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine'!
'When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee' - He's not going to send another - 'I will be there...through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee'. Then we have the Christ of God, as He farewells His disciples, and says: 'Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel, and lo I am with you always'. He will be with you in trouble.
Fifthly: 'I will deliver him, and honour him'. That is vindication, isn't it? Honour, Samuel says: 'For them that honour me, I will honour'. The Lord Jesus said: 'If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour'. Peter says: 'Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God'. Do you know that is saying? The resurrection that we will commemorate next Lord's Day is God's 'Amen' to all of His promises - full stop! Guarantee! Absolute assurance that God is sure, God is a Man of His word, and the resurrection is our assurance for everything - absolutely everything!
We all know that God never promised an easy time, but one thing He did promise - believer - was a safe arrival in Glory, to be there - and praise the Lord He'll get us there! He'll get us there in Glory, and when we see His face we shall be like Him, and that work that He began us, that He's continuing now, He will bring to completion. Now, if you believe that, what is there to fear?
Sixthly, and finally He says: 'I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation'. Do you know what that is? It is personal fulfilment, and satisfaction, and enjoyment, of salvation! You'd think you couldn't enjoy salvation to look at some people, isn't that right? But this is personal, individual satisfaction, joy, fulfilment, everything that you could need - by losing your life you find it in Christ! Verse 16, in the Old Testament long life was a specific promise for Old Testament saints. You would know that from the law in Exodus: 'Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee'. The prophets took that as a literal promise that if they stayed in the land, and they honoured God's promises, that He would bless them with long life within the land. That is a literal promise that will be fulfilled, as you see from Isaiah 65, in the future Messianic kingdom when:
'Jesus shall reign where'er the sun,
Doth its successive journeys run'.
But here, as we apply it to us, I believe we can do it in this way: it literally means 'length of days'. Proverbs says: 'By humility and fear of the Lord, are riches and honour and life'. I want to apply it to you today not concerning the quantity of life that you have, but the quality. Bonar says: 'They do err who measure life by years. He liveth long, who liveth well. All other life is short and vain', isn't that right? Would you rather live a short burst of glory for Christ, would you? A short burst of satisfaction, a short burst of a taste of heaven on earth before you even get there, to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ so that He may be glorified in you in your afflictions. If you do that, my friend, and seek God with all your heart for your satisfaction, He says: 'I will show you my salvation'. Literally: 'I will make him see it' - 'Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore...and all flesh shall see the salvation of God'.
Do you remember Simeon? I mean, imagine what it would've been like for him: waiting all of his life to see the salvation of God, to see Christ coming. I imagine that he probably started to doubt, and thought: 'Is He ever going to come? The promise that I believe God has given me, is He ever going to bring the fulfilment of it?'. But one day, we read in Luke chapter 2, he said: 'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation'.
We've finished this Psalm, but do you see how the promises of God go right from the initial saving of your soul, right through the Christian experience, to be enjoyed in salvation? It covers all the intervening needs that you could have, that could raise their ugly head in your life down here - but please don't miss this! Only if! 'If you love me', God says, 'if you know My name, if you call upon Me'. Calvin said: 'We cannot rely on God's promises without obeying God's commandments'. If you obey these commandments today, my friend - if you're not saved and you put your faith and trust in God - you can be sure that no matter what you go through, God will go through it with you. You will be invincible in God, nothing will touch you unless God permits it. When you are in the midst of trouble, you will always have the knowledge that you can rest and shelter in God in the midst of it!
To know that He protects you from all things natural and supernatural, if you shelter in His character, in His tenderness, in His strength, and believe His pledge. What a blessing it will be, I hope, to hear the Lord speak to us the words spoken by Boaz to Ruth on that last day: 'The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust'. May God bless His word to our hearts.
Let us bow our heads - this series was a four part series and you can get the tapes, if those would help you, in the Upper Room. Father, we thank Thee that Thou art there, and we believe that Thou art there and we believe that Thou art able because Thou hast said: 'I will be with thee, I will deliver thee, I will set thee on high, I will answer thee'. Lord, help us to believe, in the Saviour's name. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourth tape in his 'Psalm 91' series, titled "A God Of His Word" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
All material by David Legge is copyrighted. However, these materials may be freely copied and distributed unaltered for the purpose of study and teaching, so long as they are made available to others free of charge, and this copyright is included. This does not include hosting or broadcasting the materials on another website, however linking to the resources on preachtheword.com is permitted. These materials may not, in any manner, be sold or used to solicit 'donations' from others, nor may they be included in anything you intend to copyright, sell, or offer for a fee. This copyright is exercised to keep these materials freely available to all. Any exceptions to these conditions must be explicitly approved by Preach The Word. [Read guidelines...]