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The Deliverance Psalm

God’s 9-1-1


Ps 91.


I. Introduction

• This is one of the favorite Psalms. Second commonly read after Psalm 23.
• Psalm 91 is known as the Soldier's Psalm.
Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines often carry a wallet-sized copy with them when deployed. [Wiki].
• This is a ‘Deliverance’ Psalm.
• It is a testimony Psalm [vv. 2,9].
It is the Psalm about the one who turned to God for shelter and found Him to be more than adequate.
• D. L. Moody, in the margin of many pages of his Bible wrote the letters T and P, meaning "Tried and Proved." This Psalm was one of them.
[Many, including entire churches have memorized it and I want to encourage us to do likewise].

A. Division

There are many ways. For our lesson today…
• Appropriation – Vv 1-2. Psalmist makes the truth of v.1 his own.
• Attestation – Vv 3-13. Psalmist invites the readers to come and experience this truth.
• Affirmation – Vv 14-16. The Lord affirms the truth with His 7 ‘I will’s’.

B. AUTHOR.

No name appears on the superscript, nor is it referenced in any other part of the Bible [Ps 2. Cf. Acts 4:25].

1. Moses as the author

According to Jewish custom it is common to ascribe the Psalm to the writer who is identified closest to the Psalm. In this case it is Moses, the writer of Psalm 90. Both the Psalms have the same emotions and have similar language.

There are similarities between the words used by Moses in the Pentateuch and in this Psalm.

For example :
V.14 has this phrase, “set His love upon me” and the only other place where this phrase appears is in Deut 7:7.

Vv. 5-7. Moses was no stranger to this event.
• The number of men who leave Egypt: 600,000 [Exodus 12:37; Num 11:21; Num 1:45-46; Num 26:51].
• Include wives and children to bring the total number to 2.5 million.
• Over a 40-year period [14,600 days] they saw on an average 175 deaths everyday.
• Some days in thousands... effect of rebellion and sin was evidenced everyday.

2. David as the author

It is suggested that David may also be the writer. The many times he had to face the arrow; and also the pestilence he faced as a result of his sin in counting the nation of Israel.

The phrase “secret place” was David’s favorite place by God. We read several references in: Psa 31:20; Psa 32:7; Psa 61:4; Psa 119:114; Psa 139:15.

3. The Divine Author

Whoever, may be the human writer we are thankful that the Divine Author would give us this Psalm.

The human writer could have been me; it could have been you; it could have been our local church – this faith community. We who have experienced the comfort of abiding in the secret place of the Lord.

C. Our Objective

Our objective is to apply the truth of the Psalm in the light of the revelation of the entire Scripture.

The Devil quotes [or misquotes] this Psalm. That is one thing we do not wish to do and therein lies the learning for us.

II. THE APPROPRIATION: The comfort of the Psalmist


Vv. 1-2.
I am thankful to God for the way this Psalm begins.
Our introduction to God’s truth begins with God Himself.

In verse 1 and 2, the Psalmist takes us through the grandest gate of who the LORD is to us, before showing what the LORD does for us.

The LORD wants us to learn the truth of this Psalm through His perspective not ours. Only when we do that do will we have the right perspective of life itself.

NOTICE THE FOUR TITLES OF GOD…

Names are important in the Bible. It reveals to us the character of the person; and in this case it reveals to the attributes of God. God reveals an attribute most relevant to us so that it would minister to our jagged soul in that hour of utmost need.

The four titles we see here are:

A. Most High : El Elyon

B. Almighty : El Shaddai

C. LORD : Jehovah

D. God : Elohim

Let us briefly look at each of these and what they mean for us today.

A. Most High: El Elyon

The strongest of Strong. The most High God. The Sovereign God.

El: Hebrew masculine noun for ‘the Mighty One’. [Plural: Elohim].
Elyon: Masculine noun meaning ‘Highest’.

This title of God reminds us of the Sovereignty of God.
This title reminds us that it is God who controls all that is in heaven and on earth.


1. First reference.

Gen 14:18, “Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (Now he was the priest of the Most High God.)”

Who goes on to say to Abram, [V. 20]
“And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.”


2. Revelation to the Gentiles.

We see this name being used more often in relation to the Gentiles. In the Book of Daniel, we see Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging God as the ‘Most High’.

In spite of the prophetic warning, Nebuchadnezzar as he stood on his terrace [many a kings have fallen standing boastful on the terraces of their house] and took pride in the works of his hands, he loses it all in an instant.

We read:
“He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.”

We read later: Dan 4:34-35. [The fact that his kingdom was not usurped is Divine].
“But at the end of the appointed time I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven, and my sanity returned to me. I extolled the Most High, and I praised and glorified the one who lives forever. For his authority is an everlasting authority, and his kingdom extends from one generation to the next. All the inhabitants of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he wishes with the army of heaven and with those who inhabit the earth. No one slaps his hand and says to him, ‘What have you done?’ ©NET.

3. El Elyon in the Book of Job.

Through suffering Job came to understand God's sovereignty in a very real and personal way. We read:

Job 42:2. “I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted”


4. Application: What does that mean to us?

Notice that the word “Sovereign” has the word ‘reign’ included in it.

God is Sovereign and He reigns over all – including circumstances, situations, sickness, accidents, death, or whatever else it may be that you are worried about right now.

In recognizing the sovereignty of God we acknowledge there are no accidents.

Like a cowboy applying for health insurance when asked by the agent if he had had any accidents replied, "No, but I have had a snake bit, a horse kick me and a bull butt me." The agent asked, "Weren’t those accidents?" "No, they all did that on purpose." he replied.

There are no accidents. SOVEREIGNTY indicates GOD IS IN CONTROL.
It is to this Sovereign God that the Psalmist invites us to come.

J I Packer: “To know that nothing happens in God's world apart from God's will may frighten the godless, but it stabilizes the saints.”

The Psalm is indicating that it is good for us who take shelter in God’s Sovereignty.

FOR HE IS THE EL ELYON. THE GOD WHO IS IN CONTROL OF ALL THINGS.

B. Almighty: El Shaddai

• Shadday is a superlative.
• Shadday is the ‘plural excellente’ of the word powerful.
• Shadday means ‘most powerful’. Something powerful than powerful itself.
HE IS THE ALMIGHTY.


1. First reference

The first time God reveals this name is when He speaks to Abram in Gen 17:1.
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.

It has been 15 years at least since the covenant was made. In between Abram had slipped up in the matter of Hagar, thinking that they, Abram and Sarai, were getting too old for God to make them parents. However, here in chapter 17 we read that God appears to Abram and reminds him that God is the Almighty God – That He is the God of the possible.

HE IS THE GOD WHO CAN.


2. Unclear etymology of El Shaddai

We get two major understanding of the name based on its occurrence:
• Omnipotence, and
• Sufficiency.
a) Omnipotence
As the El Shadday, God was showing the Patriarch that though Abraham would not see the entire fulfillment of the covenant in his lifetime, the power of His name, El Shadday, the Omnipotent One, is the one who will accomplish the promise.
b) Sufficiency
The most use of this name, El Shadday, is in the Book of Job – 31/48 uses.

And outside of Genesis and Job this name is seen in the Book of Ruth, where Naomi acknowledges God as the El Shadday.

In acknowledging God as the El Shadday, both Job and Naomi declare that though the Sovereign God allows suffering, He is also a God who is "sufficient".
• He is the El Shadday, the Omnipotent One, and
• He is the El Shadday, the Sufficient One.

C. LORD: Jehovah

1. The most referred name for God in the OT

• Used over 6,823 times.
• This name is indicated in the uppercase LORD.
2. The most sacred and holy Name of God for the Jews

Jews had a great fear that they might pollute His holy Name and thus they refused to pronounce it (substituting Adonai. They feared violating Ex 20:7).

[A good reminder for us not to use the phrases like “O God”; “O Gosh”; OMG].

There was one exception on the great Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when the High Priest (and no one else) could speak "YHWH" as he entered the Holy of holies

When the Jews copied the letters Jehovah, they would stop, remove their clothes, take a bath, put on clean garments and use a new unused pen to write this most venerated Name.

3. God's name of Revelation

This the name God uses when He is making a revelation to man.

The Scriptures uses the phrase, “thus saith the LORD”
[only twice is the phrase, “… saith God” used].

4. God’s Covenant Name

Gen 15:18.
On that day Jehovah made (cut) a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.

LORD God, the JEHOVAH God is a Covenant-making and Covenant-keeping God.

WE HAVE SEEN TILL NOW THAT:
• EL ELYON, the SOVEREIGN God. He is the God in CONTROL.
• EL SHADDAI, the SUFFICIENT God. He is the God who CAN.
• LORD, the JEHOVAH God. He is the God who COVENANTS.

D. God: Elohim

This is the name by which the God introduces us to Himself in the Book of Genesis.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…

1. Elohim tells us that He is the Creator God

In Gen 1:1-2:4, 35x in 35 verses we are reminded that Elohim God is the Creator God.

If you read the Bible there will be no doubt left as to who began the beginning.
2. Question to ask, “Why were we created?

From among the many let me read to you a verse from Isaiah.

Is 43:7. Everyone who is called by My name and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed even whom I have made."

Note the repetition - "created", "formed", "made".
Created by God with a clearly defined purpose -- God's glory.

God has a purpose in making you the way He made you. So don’t fall for the lie of the Devil that you are no good – not plain enough; not short enough; not fat enough, or whatever it is that you are sulking about.

Remember, God made you for His glory…just the way you are. So be comfortable in your skin.

Wiersbe comments...
"After all He made you, planned your potential and ordered your days. This is not some kind of blind fatalism that paralyzes you. It is the wise plan of a loving Father Who knows what is best for you. Accept what you are as His gift to you, and then use it wisely as your gift to Him. You are unique. God made you that way."

The Four Titles of God.

• EL ELYON, the SOVEREIGN God. The God who is in CONTROL.
• EL SHADDAI, the SUFFICIENT God. The God who CAN.
• LORD, the JEHOVAH God. The God who COVENANTS.
• GOD, the ELOHIM God. The God who CREATED.
APPLICATION: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO US?

1. As the El Elyon He must be the One who has control of our lives

• He must be the El Elyon of all of our lives. Anything less will not do.
• It is time to give up the “control zones” of our lives. [Control zones are pockets here and there that we are holding on to].
• We cannot live as if we are in control of our lives. As long as we live that lie, we live in sin.

2. As the El Shadai we must trust Him fully

• It is time to hear our own weak prayers:
We believe that God can and that He has the ability, but we often stop short of believing that He will.
• It is time to hear our own selfish prayers:
We have asked and received from the Lord blessings upon blessings and having received them we live squandering the blessings on our own selves.

It is time to get up off the throne of our lives. It is time to bend our knee to the God Almighty.

It is time to say with the Psalmist,
"I will say of the LORD...
My refuge and my fortress
my God, in whom I trust.

3. Time to dwell in the secret place

• It is time to come and spend the time in intimate fellowship with the Lord.

• It is time to find that secret place with the lover of your soul.

There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God,
A place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us, who wait before Thee, Near to the heart of God.

• It is time to make meeting with the Lord in the cool of the day a habit.

Unless we learn to dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide in the shadow of the Almighty we are not ready to meet life.

Unless we make our dwelling as important as our living we will miss out on the blessings God has for us.

4. Gospel

Not sure if there is anyone here who has never made God his or her shelter – his or her refuge and fortress.

The word for dwell is “Yashab” which is the same word as in Ps 1:1 for “sitteth", as in, “…sitteth in the seat of the scornful”. It talks about your lifestyle.

Since the time of Cain, the restless vagabond, yea even since the fall of man, man has been restless. His soul will find rest only when it finds the rest in Christ Jesus.

Mat 11:28, reminds us of that rest.
This Psalm reminds us that this person finds not just a rest but also a dwelling place.
In this dwelling place, you are safe not just from the fear of evil but also the evil of fear itself.

So what's your address going to be?
Is it, 1 Shadow Blvd. El Shaddai. PS. 911?

Come take shelter under His shadow.
Say to Him in complete abandon that you trust Him for all there is to life.

Learn to sit by the window of His shelter, and enjoy watching the rain fall outside; sipping tea and hot scones, or whatever it is that you like to munch.

“For He will be to you a refuge and fortress. His faithfulness will be to you a shield and a buckler.”

When we understand the extravagance of this promise we are ready to face whatever it is that this world throw at us.

III. Attestation [Vv 3-13]: The Challenge of the Psalmist

Having appropriated this truth the Psalmist goes on to list ten trials that will neither disturb his rest nor that of his readers.

A. CONTEXT OF THESE PROMISES

How do I understand the promises of God as it appears in this Psalm?


1. Why do Christians suffer?

Do the promises in this Psalm mean that Christians will not be
• snared;
• suffer;
• get sick; or
• die?

If the answer is NO:
• Is there a reason why so many Christians suffer and are persecuted aroundt he world [200 million of them currently]?
• Is there a reason why recently this Pakistani Christian family were first beaten up brutally and then burned under the instigation of a mullah?
• What about the soldiers who carry the wallet-size note of this Psalm who never return?

2. Messianic Psalm

We must recognize that this is a Messianic Psalm.

We can see the clear and complete fulfillment of these promises in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We read in Mathew 4 that the Devil challenges our Lord from this Psalm, “If you are…”.

I am thankful that Mathew records the conversation between our Lord and the Devil. The Devil takes the Lord to the temple [yes the Devil does attend church] gets Him to the very top of the temple and asks Him to jump.

“For it is written”, He says, using the same approach as the Lord with the first temptation.
He quotes then from this Psalm and says:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” [Vv.11-12].

In the face of it, it does not seem like a temptation.
How can quoting Scripture be temptation, one may ask?

However, hear the Lord’s reply.
The Lord in turn quotes Scripture saying,
“It is written, you will not tempt your LORD your God.”

So what is happening here?
It is a great example of misusing of the Scripture by the Devil and the correct handling of the Scripture by our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Stop pulling at the thread.

This example is a demand on the students of God’s Word to stop pulling verses like tugging at a thread sticking out of a sweater. If we do, it will leave a gapping hole and ruin the sweater.

Verses taken out of context or picked at random will be similar, but not in that it ruins the Scripture but it ruins us. We will be the ones who will be at loss of understanding and appropriating the goodness of our Lord and His promises.

If we aren’t careful we will make a shipwreck of our lives.

B. APPLICATION OF THESE PROMISES

The wrong way to apply this Psalm is to do the way the Devil did it – use it as a pretext.

The right way to do it is the way our Lord did.

He matched Scripture with Scripture.
He viewed His every life-event in the light of the entire Scriptures.

He submitted Himself to the Father so that God would be Sovereign over Him, God’s faithful servant.

SATISFYING OUR GREED.

The Devil will tempt us to believe that we will neither suffer pain, nor incur loss.

We will be tempted to use promises like these to satisfy our desires and our wants, over that of the glory of God.

This is how our needs are made sovereign and more important than God Himself.

So when faced with difficulties, let the promises of this Psalm strengthen you instead of it becoming a hurdle for you to trust God.

Trust the sovereign sufficiency of God to fulfill the promises He has made.

As John Piper puts it:

Satan does not always try to ruin faith by saying, “The Bible isn’t true;” he often tries to destroy our faith by affirming some passage [over others] and using it to lead us into disobedience.

SOME EXAMPLES

Let me give you some examples of viewing the entire Scriptures, so that we can understand this truth well:
1. Watch the Heroes of Faith.

See how the Scripture reads the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews:

Heb 11:33-39

33. who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34. quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
35. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.
Notice the change in tone…
36. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
37. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—
38. of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39. And all these, though commended through their faith…
Both who escaped and those who suffered were commended through their faith.

2. Preservation through persecution.

Not just the heroes of faith but see also those who suffer for Christ.

Hear the words of our Lord as He reminds the disciples of the coming persecution.

Luke 21:16-18
16. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.
17. You will be hated by all for my name's sake.
18. But not a hair of your head will perish.
19. By your endurance you will gain your lives.

In the same breath where persecution is spoken off we hear the comfort of preservation.

In the words of the Shepherd Psalm:
“Yea though I walk through [It is not, skip past] the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…”

During times of trouble, we need to remember that,
“The will of God will not send you where the promise of God and the presence of God will not keep you.”

That is the truth of God’s promise.

It is not in the absence of trouble but the assurance of His deliverance through it all.

3. Example of Jesus

See the example of Jesus.

Psalm 91 reminds us that we will not be consumed – Neither the Devil nor Death will overcome us.

When Jesus was tempted, He refused to be coerced to claim the Messianic promises for Himself, but He willingly submitted to God the Father to keep the promise.

We read in Hebrews:

Heb 5:7. During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Death was not His end; it was a passageway to victory.

Even so Christian, just as it was testified of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego the fire did not burn them nor was the smell of fire on them, so is it for you.

However, they went into the fire submitting themselves to God, saying,
“we know our God is able, but even He does not save us we will not bow our knee to the image”.

They had learned to submit to the Sovereignty of God, knowing this El Elyon is also their El Shadday, their Jehovah and their Elohim.

Here is what CH Spurgeon wrote:

It is impossible that any ill should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord; the most crushing calamities can only shorten his journey and hasten him to his reward.

Ill to him is not ill, but only good in a mysterious form. Losses enrich him, sickness is his medicine, reproach is his honor, death is his gain. No evil in the strict sense of the word can happen to him, for everything is overruled for good. Happy is he who is in such a case. He is secure where others are in peril, he lives where others die.

4. Story of Jim Elliott

We know the story of Jim Elliott.

It is based on this truth that Elisabeth Elliot, wife of the martyred missionary, titled her book, ‘Shadow of the Almighty’.

Did she doubt the promise of Psalm 91?

Why wasn’t her beloved husband kept alive. In fact He was living in obedience to bring the Gospel to the Ecuador's Quechua Indians.

Elisabeth Elliot answered like this:
"The world called it a nightmare of tragedy. The world did not recognize the truth of the second clause in Jim Elliot's credo:
'He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

This earthly death is not the end. It is neither the decider nor the failure of God’s promises.

A Christian is one who has come to understand that it is in Christ alone he or she will find the fulfilling of all the promises of God. In Him it is ‘yeah’ and ‘amen’.

In "Our Daily Bread," DJD once wrote:

I told how a Christian providentially escaped death. An unexpected delay in New York kept him from catching Flight 191 in Chicago, which crashed with all 254 aboard.

That article brought this note from a reader: "I just had to let you know about one of God's great saints who ran to make Flight 191--and made it!" His name was Edwards E. Elliott, beloved pastor of the Garden Grove Orthodox Presbyterian Church in California. His plane from Pennsylvania was late, and a friend who had accompanied him to Chicago said he last saw him "dashing forward" in the terminal to make his connection.”

As I read about Pastor Elliott's fruitful ministry, the question I raised in that June devotional challenged me with new urgency: "Was Divine providence operating only in New York and not in Chicago?" Immediately the words of my correspondent came alive: "At the time, Reverend Elliott didn't know he was indeed running to Heaven...Mrs. Elliott and her four married children comforted the entire church. Their Christian faith and testimony in sorrow was most extraordinary." D.J.D., Our Daily Bread, June, 1980.

LET GOD BE GLORIFIED IN OUR LIVES

When we come to dwell in the secret place of the El Elyon – the Sovereign God.

When we come to this God who controls everything; a God who can and will; a God who covenants; the very God who created you for His glory,…

…we learn to sit loosely on our limited understanding and our unlimited earthly desires.

This is when we can say with the saints on high:

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let Thy glory be over all the earth…”

The truth of this Psalm is this that God will never let His children suffer; AND even when He allows for it in His sovereignty, even to a suffering that leads to death, it will never be the end or the downfall of the saint.

IV. The Affirmation: The confidence of the Psalmist

Vv. 14 - 16

It is with a divine confidence in the Lord that the Psalmist ends this Psalm.

In fact, it is as if the Lord Himself is affirming the Psalmist and we hear the seven ‘I will’s of the LORD.

1. I will deliver him
2. I will protect him
3. I will answer him
4. I will be with him in trouble
5. I will rescue him and honor him
6. I will satisfy him, and
7. I will show him my salvation.

Ps 91:1-2. 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.

Having learned to dwell in the shelter of the Most High and in the shadow of the Almighty we can go out and live as the children of the Sovereign God, who can and who will; the One who covenants and the One who created us for His glory.

This is My God! This is Our God!

His faithfulness is my shield and my buckler.
Let all the earth remain silent.