Share This Episode
The Bible Study Hour James Boice Logo

Under the Shadow of God's Wings

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Cross Radio
January 19, 2022 7:00 am

Under the Shadow of God's Wings

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 586 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

January 19, 2022 7:00 am

While some of the Psalms reflect a multitude of dark emotions, others leave us with feelings of joy and hope for the future. James Boice reflects on Psalm 91, a Psalm that’s provided consolation to countless believers over the years in times of suffering and tragedy.

COVERED TOPICS / TAGS (Click to Search)
The Bible Study Hour Dr. James Boice

While Psalm 90 is somber and stately Psalm 91 is bright and simple. Spurgeon says that there is not a more cheerful Psalm in the Bible that it portrays faith at its best, infects Psalm 91 is given us some of the best-loved hymns of the faith are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James boards preparing you to think and act biblically.

Psalm 91 is filled with comfort and promises and many of turned to it in times of trouble and tragedy.

Let's join Dr. Boyce as he examines Psalm 91 and shows us that only God can calm our troubled hearts and provide the satisfaction we desire all of the songs that we have in the Bible are from God, of course, there are wonderful and there are several ways, but there are some Psalms that stand out above others says commending themselves to God's people, the result that they turn to them again and again for comfort and strength, guidance in the living of the Christian life. Psalm 91 is one of those probably been memorized by thousands upon thousands of people and there are additional thousands over the course of the years, probably millions who have turned to it for consolation in the midst of life's calamities can become impaired. In some ways was Psalm 46 Psalm 46 is that Psalm that begins by calling God our refuge and our strength present help in trouble. Martin Luther love that song because he had so many troubles and he needed refuge in the middle of them. While Psalm 91 is like that. It can also be compared to Psalm 90 that comes immediately before it. Both of the Psalms called God the dwelling place of his people, which may be why the two were put together were also other verbal similarities between the two. Some of the older commentators assume that because the first is by Moses. This is by Moses as well is no real reason for thinking that. But that could've been written by Moses. Certainly the kind of things that are said here follow on in a natural way from the Psalm that we were studying before this, but the tone is different.

One of the commentators says Psalm 90 is somber and stately dealing with death and sin which has caused death and seeking stability in God and the establishing of the works of our hands.

Psalm 91 is quite different. It's bright and simple loop old says one breathes deep insight. The other cheerful trust or something. Spurgeon said about Psalm 91. I don't think he was overstating the case and the whole collection. There is not a more cheerful Psalm at Stone is elevated and sustained throughout faith is at its best and speaks nobly on the Psalm is given us some great poetry and also some of our best-known hymns, Edmund Spencer, the early English poet wrote a poem on it called and is there care in heaven gracious bone arms given us a lot of hymns wrote one called. He lived with longer limited well and then there's the hymns we sing the best known are the hymns beginning under the care of my God the Almighty comes from the Bible Psalms hymnal in 1927 and then the man who once has found abode which comes from the reformed Presbyterian book of Psalms of 1940 here in this service we began our service by singing one of those hymns. Perhaps you noticed it based on Psalm 91 and were going to end our service by singing the other one striking feature of the Psalm that helps us begin to get into it is the fact that there are three distinct movements marked by a change in pronoun first movement, which is marked by the pronoun I saw Mr. speaking verses one and Chili's expressing his own personal faith in God then there's the second movement, which is much longer. It's marked by the pronoun you, and it feels verses three through 13. It's a word from the psalmist to the reader or the listener. So it's a direct word us the words in the first of these movements first two verses, she expresses his faith always says you should have the same fate as well and then finally in the third section pronoun goes back to I again but now it's not I the psalmist. It's the divine God was speaking and what God does. Here is declared to those who trust in what is going to do for them.

That's a nice movement is and it is from my faith to your faith and then the word of God saying what he will bless you may notice that in the new international version that middle section which is long three through 13 is divided into two sections, probably wisely because there are two different emphases first speaks of God's protection from any kind of dangers and then the second expresses the conditions for such protection, namely that we have to rest or abide in God so that's what you want to look at it. 1234 first verse is really a thematic statement because it expresses what the remainder of the Psalm is going to be about. He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty listener is the psalmist make that statement of something any of us ought to be able to make the goes on and as his own personal testimony to it because verse two is where the eye comes in. He says I will say of the Lord he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. That's the equivalent of Thomas's confession of faith that comes at the very end of John's Gospel. Recall that Jesus had been raised from the dead appeared to the disciples on one Lord's day. Thomas wasn't present. I told him about it is that I'm going to believe unless I see it for myself. And then Jesus appeared on the next Lord's day, he presented himself to Thomas to go ahead and make his task, simply fell at his feet and confess to my Lord and my God. No, that's exactly what the psalmist is doing here. He says he who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

That's a true statement but he goes on to say yes and that's what I am doing God before I say anything else.

I want you to know that he is my Lord and he is my God. So that's the first application of this law we have to apply to ourselves is Jesus Christ. Your Lord is your God is the God of the Bible.

Your refuge in times of trouble.

Psalm is going to go on to make great promises to those rest in God.

The promises are only for those who trust in God and so the question is do you do it now look at the promises probably come to us right at the beginning.

Therefore, metaphors here for the security that we can have in God. God will be our shelter and our shadow first one he will also be our refuge and our fortress first to have you look at those same two verses again.

You'll find that there are four names for God please give substance and strength of the metaphors is the most highly Almighty verse one is the Lord and also by God in verse two. When psalmist identifies God as his God, and the last expression is a way of saying the shoulder shadow refuge and fortress are for those who really dwell in him as the psalmist.Spurgeon wrote something interesting about this. Here's what Spurgeon said the blessings here promised or not. For all believers but for those who live in close fellowship with God say we are inclined to say when we talk about things like this. These blessings are for Christians only, not for those who are Christians. That's true enough. What the psalmist is saying something a step beyond that, not only for Christians but for Christians who trust God. Spurgeon goes on every child of God looks toward the inner sanctuary in the mercy seat. Yet all do not dwell in the most holy place.

They run to it. The times and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in God's presence.

Here's a second application may come early on in the song say the first is this God your God is he your refuge is the second, do you dwell in his presence. You stay habitually close to God, he will bind in him.

Psalm is written, urge you to do exactly that. The promised blessings. If you do now, having stated his own personal faith in God psalmist in the second movement of the Psalm begins to commend it to us. He takes first of all six glasses to explain what God will do for those who trust them not just look at the way he uses that word used throughout. Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers under his wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and Rampart. You will not fear the terror of night of the hour that flies by day, and so on. Verse 7000 may fall at your side, 10,000 at your right hand, but it will not come near you only with your eyes. Will you see the punishment of the wicked. Now verse three sets the tone for this section because it highlights two kinds of dangers to which the godly are exposed. First of all, there's the subtle snare of enemies is described as that kind of trap follower that is somebody who catches birds uses to catch birds unwary birds and the second dangerous death by pestilence or disease doesn't mean that a Christian never suffers infectious diseases or suffers from an enemy's plot.

All it really means is that Christians are habitually delivered from such dangers and any Christian ought to be able to confess that if you have any awareness of the presence of God in your life and the kind of dangers that face you in life you want to be able to say again and again.

Yes, the Lord has delivered me from exactly that. We know that God sometimes uses suffering of one sort or another to develop character and also sometimes these things do come, but as a habitual confession.

We should be able to say yes God has delivered me from exactly that when he mentions deadly pestilence.

Verse three, or the pestilence of stocks in the darkness of the plague that destroys at midday.

In verse six is very easy to think of illustrations of that were not so aware of plagues today pestilence but they certainly were in times past and there are several stories that come from plague years for example is the story of an English nobleman, whose name is Lord Craven was a Christian. He lived in London in the 15th century pestilence came to the City of London, his time people were dying on every side and so he decided to do what people of his social class often did in those days they left the plague area and in his case he was going to go to a home in the country. I was walking down the hall of his house about to get into his carriage, which had been loaded up with his baggage when he heard one of the servants say.

I suppose by my Lord's quitting London to avoid the plague that his God lives in the country and not in town now we read that in that that sounds almost like a humorous accusation. Apparently the servant minute seriously understand much about what was going on but Lord Craven overheard it and so he canceled his journey and this is what he said my God lives everywhere and can preserve me in town as well as in the country. I will stay where I am and so we stayed in London and he was very helpful in ministering to the people who were the plague victims and incidentally he didn't get the plague Lord preserved is a similar story from the life of Spurgeon.

I mentioned Spurgeon twice already in the year 1854, he had only been in London 12 months. Remember Spurgeon started preaching as a very young man and he came to London early when he had been there, just 12 months and outbreak of Asiatic cholera came in to his area of the city, and many in the congregation were affected.

He says as he writes about it later that there was hardly a family in the congregation where somebody didn't get sick and many, many people died seem to limit one.

That he was spending part of every single day in the graveyard with the funeral of somebody from the congregation would not began to wear upon them. As you can imagine, he became physically emotionally exhausted and sick at heart.

He was ready actually to sink and collapse under that heavy burden of pastoral care was returning from a funeral one day and he noticed in a shoemaker shop and overrode assigned in the owner's own handwriting and it bore these words from Psalm 91 verses nine intent of the King James version, because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most tie-dye habitation. There shall no evil befall the neither shall any plague come by thy dwelling management course written active the consolation people in general.

But Spurgeon took it very personally is what he wrote about it afterwards. The effect upon my heart was immediate faith appropriate in the passage is around.

I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality.

I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit. I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm providence which moved the tradesmen to put those verses in his window. I gratefully acknowledge and in the remembrance of its marvelous power. I adore the Lord my God, I said a moment ago that we don't generally Western world face pestilence in that sense today.

We certainly face dangers and we face in the cities, as well as in other places.

Many Christians live by this kind of faith today in our city and our time there faced by it every single day. But they say I'll put my trust in the Lord he is my refuge. He's the God of the city as well as the God of the countryside and of these, put me here. I'm going to serve them right here and so they go on.

And God blesses their witness now in the fourth verse. We have two appealing images of God's protection. Wonderful how the Psalms do that they make a very personal and here we have the image of the mother bird sheltering and protecting her young.

It says he'll cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge and then secondly there is the image of a warriors armor. His faithfulness will be your shield and Rampart should say, the exact meaning of that word.

Rampart is unclear.

The word itself has to do with something being wrapped around you for protection. So it could refer to armor, which is what the King James translators called it will be your shield and buckler, protection of a suit of armor the course of Rampart fortress also does that. And so the word probably has both meetings.

At any rate, it's a richer term than any single English word conveys. Well, now let's look at those images far as the first is concerned you remember how Jesus appropriated it for himself. Toward the end of his earthly ministry as he was approaching Jerusalem were told on one occasion he stopped on the brow of a helmet looked out over the city and he wept over it and he said all Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stones those who are sent to you how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing Jesus would willingly have gathered and shouldered them but they were not willing. He called them that they would not, and as we know what they actually did was cry out for his crucifixion about the second image.

Image of God being the shield's taken example that you remember the case of Abraham.

Abraham had gone out to pursue the kings of the East who had attacked and overthrown Solomon tomorrow carrying his nephew Lot and his family and possessions off in the process. Abraham attacked them by night.

He reclaimed the people in the possessions but it was in great danger because of course kings were far stronger than he was. They figured out what happened. They could always have moved into the hill country again and have easily killed Abraham was at that moment that God has a special revelation for them.

You find it in Genesis 15 verse one God said don't be afraid.

Abraham I am your shield and your very great reward, God is no different today. The daughter was Abraham's shield shield and so we can stand protected by God, here's an important question. What exactly is it that said to be the believers shield and Rampart in verse four.

Well, it's gone. Of course I want respect the new international version says his faithfulness will be your shield and Rampart if you know the old King James version.

You may recall that this is his truth will be your shield and Rampart are buckler now watches right well the answer is that both are right because the Hebrew word there means truth, but it involves more than that because it involves more than that the new international version translators used the word faithfulness, but you have to ask the question faithful to what the answer is faithful to his word faithful to his promises. You see, it really is the truth of God and God's faithfulness to his word it is our protection as we have to know the word of God. We have to trust that we have to study it in order that we might stand for equality. God can be trusted what God says stands. We don't have to worry that somehow you say well I change my mind or are II just can't live up to that anymore. You and I often can't live up to the things we say were going to do or don't God never fails. He's always faithful to his word, verses seven and eight describe thousands falling on either side of those who trust God and it says you will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked is important you say because it's interpreting the death of these thousands of fall to the right and left as a punishment for sin against the context in which the promises to the righteous are to be understood.

You see it's not saying that the people of God, never die, or even that they will be spared and some military and counter Christians died in warfare like anybody else, but it does say they're not going to die as a punishment for sin understand the difference. We don't die as a punishment for sin because Jesus Christ is died in our place. So even if we do die physically, which we all do eventually anyway we die in Christ, we go to be in heaven now we go to this next stanza, verses nine through 11 and what we find here as much of what we've seen already.

It tells us that no harm will befall us that no disaster will come near our tent and yet there are also a few new elements. One of them probably the chief idea because it comes first is that there is a condition of this kind of protection. The Psalm is promising and it is that the individual must make the most high, that is God's dwelling say as I said earlier, that's more than merely believing that there's a God or merely in a certain sense of trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is actually arresting in God constantly ordered dwelling in God.

Martin Luther had some good thoughts on this. He said that this refers to one who really dwells and does not merely appear to dwell is not just merely imagine that he dwells in God so there's a point of application you really dwell in God he really trusting God day by day. Just imagine you are or suppose that you are hope that you are the second development. Here is a reference to angels and we know it well because it's used in the New Testament, he will give his angels charge concerning you to guard you in all their ways that will lift you up in their hands so you will not strike your foot against a stone. That's the first of the double quoted in his temptation of Jesus temptation appears to places in the New Testament the first 11 verses of Matthew four in the first 13 verses of Luke four. The devil said look you want to live by Scripture. I'm a student of Scripture to and I've been studying the 91st Psalm and it says in the 91st Psalm you pass yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple will bear you up and you won't be hurt. So let's put it to the test. Now what the devil does what he quote Scripture is misquoted. This, incidentally, is the only explicit case we have in all the Bible of the devil actually quoting the Bible probably does it another time. It's only time it's actually mentioned here, but what significant is that he misquotes it. First of all what he leaves out is the phrase in all your ways.

That doesn't mean just in any old way, you might choose to go, but in all your ways. When your ways are guided by the ways of God. So that was the real issue was Jesus going to go in the way of God and trust at work be detoured from that by the kind of temptation, the devil was giving. He didn't want to do that so he responded by another verse of Scripture, quoting Deuteronomy 616.

It is also written must not put the Lord your God to the test so jumping off the temple would have been exactly the opposite of trusting God would've been beating him, as it were reporting them to the test. Now, Lord defeated Satan in the temptation and that's another part of the quotation that the devil also wisely left out because you know how it continues. It says that if you trust God to uphold you, then you will tread upon the lion and the cobra trampling the great lion and the serpent. Those are images the Bible uses for the devil himself is called the roaring lion goes about seeking whom he may devour. First Peter 58 is also called that ancient serpent, the devil points in the book of Revelation. So it does by trusting God rather than testing God.

Jesus actually defeated them and there's one more thing about the incident justly when Satan was tempting Jesus. He said now if you if you do that if you jump off the temple, then you will send his angels, and they'll lift you up. You won't get hurt.

Jesus didn't do it, but the Angels were still there workday because immediately afterwards when the devil left him, it says the angels of God came and ministered to. I can see those angels because angels were there any way you believe that you believe God is present with you by the angelic powers to uphold you in all of life circumstances United put God to the test to see that justly, for go on in the way that he gives you to go and you'll find that he will bless you really come to the last verses of the song and what they contain is this confirming Oracle of God. Here God breaks in and he speaks prone on switches back. I only hear the I is God speaking God himself. He promises three things the wanted trust first protection for the one it was in danger.

Verse 14 Islam is been speaking of any dangers that the people of God face that maybe you can add some of your own, you can say yes I said in my neighborhood I face at work. All of those things well that Psalm is promising protection. Those who have trusted God know that he protects them and they praise them, for they praise him constantly. Number two God promises an answer for the one I was troubled and praise to God about it. One of the great lessons of following hard after God is knowing that he really hears us when we pray that he answers us always answer the way we expect will always see his answer but we can know that he does says that God will be with the believer in trouble. That's an answer. And although he doesn't always lift a Christian out of his troubles he at least accompanies us in them. Sometimes God uses the troubles of life to develop character in us were told in Romans. We acquire hope, develop character and perseverance. The things that we suffer when we go through those things God was with us to number three God promises long life and salvation. The lender seeks his satisfaction in God while life is a blessing that's frequently promised in Scripture, it's one of the earliest ones for those who honor their father and their mother but probably what's involved here is more than that. It's not so much the duration of life with the quality of life really living as we would say because we live in God. That's why the last phrase talks about salvation.

Salvation in heaven get the comments that newness of life and eternal life that really matters. Now I want to close this way by simply bringing up the point. I did earlier, namely that this is for those who really trust God.

Psalmist quotes God is saying that these blessings are for those who love God and acknowledge his name verse 14 call upon in verse 15 and seek the satisfaction that only he can provide. So I asked you really doing that you're really seeking your satisfaction in God. Are you trying to find her satisfaction of the world that we stand the very beginning of a new year you have a whole year work that out. Find out what it really is. Seek your satisfaction in God and really trust him. John Stott reminds us how much this is an echo of Romans 828 because he says God is the supreme object of the believers love as well. As faith and as to those who love God, the assurances given that in all things God works together for their good prayer.

Father, we are thankful for songs like this that has blessed your people so much down through the ages and continues to be a blessing event us now pray that you help us in this effort that we have made understand it only with understanding, but also by retention of those principles that should guide us and beat every single moment of our lives we profess to know you and most of us do in the sense that you've saved us from our sin in Christ we trust him as our Savior want to learn increasingly what it really means to live in that faith and trust you dwelling under the shadow of the Almighty hour by hour, day by day. Father give us that blessing. We pray now in the coming year.

The praise of the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaimed biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources. You can find messages and books from Dr. Boyce and other outstanding teachers and theologians, or ask for a free reformed resources catalog by calling 1-800-488-1888. Please take the time to write to us and share how the Bible study our has impacted you. We love to hear from you and pray for you. Our address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601. Please consider giving financially to help keep the Bible study our impacting people for decades to come. You can do over the phone at 1-800-488-1888 or send a check to 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 176014 Canadian gifts mail those to 237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON. In one scene, 299. Thanks for your continued parents, and for listening to Bible study. Our preparing you to think and act