Knowing God as Our Great Protector

Shadow of Your Wings

A sermon idea based on Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16.

Psalm 91:1-6,14-16 NRSV

[1] You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, [2] 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, or the arrow that flies by day, [6] or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

[14] Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. [15] When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. [16] With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.

Angle

The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

The deeper we go in our personal relationship with God, the greater our boldness grows toward the life ahead of us and the world around us.

Anchor

Information about the text that matters to the message…

Let me say at the outset that I don’t believe this psalm should be read as a “promise” of physical safety in all of our earthly circumstances so long as we have a strong faith in God. That would be a simplistic reading of it, and I think the author desires that we mine the depths of the message a bit more.

The psalm begins by naming the audience of those who will be able to relate to this song as they sing it. “You who live in the shelter of the Most High…”

I love that the pictures used here – shelter, shadow, refuge, fortress – all pictures of places one could go into hiding in secret. Rather than seeing this psalm as a promise of physical protection, sing it as a song sung by one who is in the process of retreating from a threat-filled world into the safe place of communion with God.

We live in a world like the world of the psalmist. It’s filled with predators, plagues, and terror. What we need far more than physical protection is spiritual depth. We need to know, in our greatest moments of stress and isolation, how to keep going back to our relationship with God and diving deeper and deeper.

Whether we live or die, whether we’re sick or healthy, whether we’re safe or under attack, we need to know and grow deeper in relationship with The God Who Protects and The God Who Is Enough and The God Who is Always Near.

Application

The big call-to-action in the message…

Yes, the world is scary. But it always has been. The one thing more constant than the dangerous nature of life on earth is the goodness and protective nature of God. Spend time this week in the secret place, the shadow, where God alone knows who you really are at your most naked and vulnerable self.

 

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About the Cover Art: Koenig, Peter. Shadow of Your Wings, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.