Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Psalm 91 – Commands of Heavenly Assurance

“... no harm will overtake you,

no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.”

~Psalm 91:10-11 (TNIV).

This is surely what the servants of the Lord will need to hear, and often, but it is our rebellious human nature to question this wisdom of God’s.

Yet, this sixteen-verse theological gem of assurance stands high on list of many of the faithful.

The Simplest of Structures

On a cursory reading of this fear-eclipsing sonnet we see a ‘piano-hinge’ connecting the beginning and ending stanzas—verses 1-2 and 14-16 respectively.

The piano-hinge, comprising verses 3-13, specifies the rewards proffered to the faithful; those who truly rest in “the shelter of the Most High” (Verse 1a).

We should now read this psalm – our appetites are surely whetted.

Some Wondrous Imagery

It is easy to get ‘stuck on’ the middle parts of this psalm, for the assurances conditional to our faithfulness are just perfectly wonderful.

But, are they a little too perfect? Does this level of ‘assurance’ work its way out in actual life?

There is one word that does work ‘perfectly’ in the context of God’s perfect assurance. It is the word, “eventually.”

With event, life has a way of working itself out to the favour of those truly in God, for it is the wisdom of God that’s generally always operant in our world. We only need to apply God’s wisdom to our lives as consistently as we can and we’re assured—God’s looking after us by the very choices of faithfulness we’re making.

And, eventually, we’ll be vindicated. We might stumble but we will not fall (see Psalm 37:24, for instance).

God’s Protection and Assurance AND Our Faithfulness

This psalm, as mentioned above, is a conditional psalm. In other words, if we consistently do one thing, God will consistently do another thing. If we’re consistently faithful we can expect God to tender to us the protection suggested through the psalm.

Important: “consistent” does not mean “always”... we cannot expect perfect justice in this broken world, especially when we cannot offer God perfect faithfulness. Most of all, when we become dejected by God’s ‘apparent’ laxness in acting for us, we provide a clear indication of our unfaithfulness. Instead, we keep applying faith.

We are blessed to be characterised by faithfulness.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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