God’s Tender Intimacy
Through the ages, artists have expressed themselves through music, poetry and art primarily. Obviously artistry has a variety of forms but these three expressions are vividly portrayed specifically in the book of Psalms.
The music in the Psalms is based on the fact that we know these poems were written often with musical scores that were made for musical instruments of the day. The “art” element for me comes in the form of word pictures that the authors painted as they penned their verses. Some clear examples are found in Psalm 23 when the Lord is referred to as a shepherd or the low point of facing death compared to a valley.
Authorship of Psalm 91 is not conclusively established. But, Bible scholars do seem to agree that either Moses or David penned this one in their later lives. Both of these men learned to trust God and walk with Him through the most hair-raising scenarios. The life of either of them could be turned into an action-packed, suspense-filled TV mini-series. And, it would all be true. Over the years Psalm 91 has been fondly referred to as the foxhole Psalm, and for good reason. Through countless wars soldiers have turned to Psalm 91 for encouragement and comfort. Soldiers have recited it, prayed it, confessed it. Even family members of those soldiers were doing the same thing.
The writing of Psalm 91 is profoundly deep in its understanding and trust of God, things like “deadly pestilence” or the “terror of night” or the fear of being killed in a battle were things the writer would have faced throughout his life. For us today the threat of pestilence is not that much of a concern for us. We may be afraid of the unknown in the darkness but the flip of a switch can bring light instantly and the likelihood of us being involved in war is minimal.
The picture painted by the author is something we can relate to. In verses 1 & 2 it states, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, My refuge and My fortress, my God in whom I trust.” As we believe and trust in the Lord, the principle of protection and care from God above is the same for the writer as it is for you and me today. Have you ever been in a moment when you are grateful that you can dwell in the sheltering presence of God or abide in His shadow? There are times when we wish to run from the pressures of life, whether external or internal, we can find refuge in the fortress of God’s love. The word picture painted here is one based on security and the knowledge that God is a prayer away.
As we read further in the next few verses there are a number of phrases and words that speak of not just the protection but the action that God takes in protecting us. In verse 3 - “He will deliver you” and in verse 4 - “He will cover you”. As we go on in verse 5 the writer states a very clear fact, “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day”. Back to the foxhole image: It has long been known that soldiers who are confident, who have fear under control are much more likely to survive a battle. In verses 9 & 10 the author writes “no evil shall be allowed to befall you” as you “make the Lord your dwelling place”. The way God does it is found in verses 11 & 12 where it says, “He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up”. God uses all His resources to protect us.
As we close and reflect on the title I have at the top of this article, the words tender intimacy are supported in verses 14 & 15. The writer states “he holds fast to me in love”. When we love someone we tend to want to have them close, to hold on; they truly know us and in the end of this verse it says that God will protect us because “He knows my name”. When you think of God and the millions of people on this planet, I assure you He knows your name! He is that intimately acquainted with you. As verse 15 unfolds three things stand out:
1. God will answer when we call.
2. He will be with us during any trouble we face.
3. He will rescue and honor us.
How that all works is answered in some ways by verse 16; we will be satisfied with long life and God will show us His salvation.
God’s tender intimacy has some very distinct goals, to protect and to bless our lives.
By: Pastor David Jones