Psalm 91:1-4 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 HE WILL COVER YOU with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
I want you to see four names of God that are given to us in the first two verses of Psalm 91 that prove that God is qualified to cover us. We read in verse one: 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Let’s take a look at the first name here which is “Most High” and then we will move to the second name you see here which is “Almighty.” “Most High” in Hebrew is El-Elyon. El-Elyon or Most High God speaks about the authority and strength God has to cover us. The Hebrew definition says that El-Elyon is the possessor of the heavens and the earth. He is the God who is over all things. He is the strongest of the strong. Nobody is bigger than El-Elyon. He is the Most High. No one is higher. He is sovereign over all.
Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”
He isn’t asking for permission to act. He isn’t taking a poll to see what public opinion is on any subject matter. He doesn’t consult a committee before He makes a decision.
Job put it this way: Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. This truth is threaded all throughout Scripture: Psalm 97:9 For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
The whole origin and fall of Satan is really beyond my ability to understand or explain, so I tend to stick with the basic fact that he exists and that his ultimate defeat has been secured by Christ on the cross. Until the day of that ultimate binding to his eternal destiny, in order to give us a choice between good and evil, Satan has some limited influence and power here on earth. But I will mention that in Isaiah 14:12-15, theologians agree that the passage talks about Satan who’s overarching sin was that he thought he could be like El-Elyon or above Him. He thought he could be the Most High God.
Isaiah 14:12-15 –12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star (Lucifer), son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.
What an inflated view of self Satan had and has because no one is higher than El-Elyon. HE is the Most High God, above all gods, above all rulers, above all powers and authorities. The battle between good and evil isn’t a battle between two equals. Our God, El-Elyon, is alone the Most High, and He covers us.
Tell your neighbor right now, “I am covered by the Most High God.”
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Let’s look into this second name for God.
God not only has the authority and strength to cover us, but He has the resources to cover us. He is and has enough no matter what.
Our God is always enough. Our God always provides enough. He is, El-Shaddai, our sufficiency. Notice that this particular name of God, Almighty, doesn’t deal with the potency of His strength, but with the power, with the greatness, with the bountiful nature of His GRACE.
What we need, because of His compassion, His love, His mercy, His great and unending grace, we will receive. This is the understanding David had when He said, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
This is the same name God used of Himself when He reminded Abraham of the covenant He had made with Him, of the promises that went with that covenant, and of the provision Abraham could trust God to supply. Genesis 17:1- When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty (El-Shaddai). Walk before me and be blameless.
God is saying, “Walk with me, Abraham. Step with me. Align your life with My plans for you because as you walk by faith, I will be your Source. I will be your Sufficiency. I will be your Supplier. Abraham, when you need wisdom, I will give it to you. When you need direction, I will show you the way. When you are weak, I will be your strength. I will sustain you as you walk. I will keep you as you walk. I will provide for you as you walk. I will satisfy you as you walk. I will bless you abundantly in ways you couldn’t imagine if you stay where you are and trust in yourself. Before you have a need, I will have what it takes to meet it, Abraham. Just trust in Me.”
This name of God speaks to the way God nourishes His children like a nursing mother nourishes a child. He is the God who comes close, who stays close, who hovers in a way that keeps us safe. When we get into trouble, it is often because we aren’t trusting in God’s sufficiency. We aren’t trusting in Him to supply our needs. We try to do things in our own
strength. We try to resource ourselves and lean on our own understanding. Listen, when God came to Abraham in Genesis 17 and told him he would have a son, he used the name El-Shaddai. He wanted Abram to know that he wasn’t expecting Abram to pull off this fatherhood thing at the age of 99 himself, right? The very name God used when speaking to Abraham was to point to the fact that God would supply what was needed in order for this child to be conceived WITH Sarah.
You see, Abraham had done what we often do. When he was first told he would be the Father of Many nations, instead of allowing God to be his sufficiency and source, he took the reigns and he and his wife, Sarah, concocted a plan that involved another woman as a kind of surrogate which failed miserably and created the Jewish and Arab hostility that remains to this day. Listen, when we don’t allow Christ to be our sufficiency, when we don’t look to God to resource us, we give birth to conflict and suffering that can last for generation upon generation.
Suffice it to say, after Abraham did on his own what went terribly wrong, God came to him and said, “Let me be your sufficiency. I have what you need for you and Sarah to conceive a child.” And at the ages of 100 and 90 Abraham and Sarah had the promised son, Isaac. Would everyone over 50 agree that is a miracle? Even the miracles that we will need in order to walk through this life will be supplied by the hand of our sufficient Almighty God, our El-Shaddai. We can rest in His sufficiency. God has the resources to cover your needs.
Tell your neighbor, “I am covered by Almighty God.”
Let’s go back to our text for our third and fourth names of God. Psalm 91:2: I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Notice that the name, “LORD” is in all CAPS. God isn’t trying to shout at us here. Whenever you see LORD in all caps in Scripture, that is the English translation of Yahweh or Jehovah which are used interchangeably. LORD, Yahweh or Jehovah point to the fact that God has the integrity to cover us.
LORD-Yahweh or Jehovah-The integrity to cover.
What do I mean by integrity? Well, not everyone who makes a promise will keep it. Not everyone who makes a promise has the authority to make the promise in the first place. Some people make promises and then change their minds. Integrity speaks to the fact that God is the Covenant-keeping God, the eternal and unchangeable I AM. Friends, He is the God who was and is and forever will be. He won’t change His mind. He won’t forget what He says. He will always be there to make good on His promises. Yahweh, Jehovah, the Lord is the self-existent and eternal faithful God.
This is the way He revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14 when He said, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
He is the Great I Am. He is not the Great I Was or the Great I Will Be. He is the Great I Am, the One who is always great, the One who is always faithful and always will be. This name, LORD, speaks to the God who is committed in relationship to His people. He was going to be with Moses as he went to Pharaoh to demand that he free the Hebrew slaves, and He was. He was going to be with the Israelites as they left Egypt and headed to the Land of Promise, and He was.
This characteristic of integrity flows out of His commitment to deliver His people and to deliver what He promises to His people. What He says is guaranteed. He won’t bail on us. He won’t abandon us. His is a sticky kind of love, the kind we talked about a few weeks back called “Hesed” love. No matter where you go, if you are in Christ, God goes with you.
Tell your neighbor, “I am covered by the LORD.”
The last name for God in verse 2 is God. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
My God. This is probably the most common name we use for God. The Hebrew word for God is Elohim.
God-Elohim. Elohim speaks about God as Creator. This is the name used for God in Genesis 1 where we see God creating all that exists. But listen, God hasn’t stopped being the Creator. He didn’t use up all of His creative energies in those six days. God still has the creative power to cover us.
How does this power to create cover us? What does it mean for us? It means that we are never without hope. God can create light in the darkness. God can create a way where there seems to be no way. God can open doors that no man can shut. God can create a way of escape in difficult circumstances. The God who spoke the worlds into existence with authority and because He had a Divine plan to do so also has the ability to speak creative words over our lives and circumstances at any moment as they serve His Divine plans. Listen, nobody puts God in a corner. No one calls checkmate on Him. Even the death of Christ is proof that nothing can trump the power of our God because He can bring life even from death. We see it in the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.
It isn’t luck. It isn’t karma. It isn’t coincidence that we rely on, but the creative power of God to move in and through our circumstances to give us breathing room, or a new perspective, or a different path to walk. He can cut through red tape. He can change hearts. The Bible says He will give us a new, soft, compliant heart for our stony, cold and hardened hearts. This is the work of our God—always making something new, doing something new, revealing something new.
Tell your neighbor, “I am covered by the Creator God.”
So, we know God provides us with comprehensive coverage, but just how does He cover us? Verse one talks about a Shelter or a secret place as the KJV puts it. God is our “go to” for covering. We know we can run to Him and come into a place where we will be safe. God is the One to whom we can retreat from life’s difficulties. There will always be room for us in the Shelter!
Verse one also says that inside that place we are covered by enabling us to rest. When I think of rest I think of relaxation. I think of shutting everything off. I think of freedom from worry and anxiety.
In the second part of verse 1 the Psalmist says God covers us with His Shadow. Why do we step into a shadow? We do it for relief from the sun, right? A shadow provides us with shade. It takes some of the heat off of us. It gives us a place to cool down. We are reminded of God’s closeness to us with this particular image. To be in someone’s shadow is to be close to them. To be able to be covered by someone’s shadow means we are standing near someone bigger than we are. Their shadow becomes big enough to cover us. This image of a shadow points us again to just how strong, how mighty, how big our God is.
Verse 2 talks about God being our Refuge and Fortress. Psalm 91 is the only Psalm that uses the word “refuge” three times. God’s secure covering is obviously being emphasized. And then there is that word, “Fortress.” The Hebrews would have understood the word fortress to be related to the walls around a city or a natural barrier like the mountains around Jerusalem. They would provide a natural defense.
The last word on your outline is “Rescue.” Verse 3 says, “Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.”
A fowler is a hunter of birds. Obviously, no bird hunter is out to get us this morning, but in a very real sense, we are being hunted. We know Satan is like a hunter, always on the prowl, always seeking to wreak havoc in our lives. We are covered in the sense that we won’t be trapped by him. We will be wise to the devil’s schemes. We will have godly wisdom to see what Satan is attempting to do.
The deadly pestilence in a physical sense deals with diseases like epidemics and plagues which sounds super encouraging in the midst of this coronavirus outbreak, and while God does have power to deliver us from disease, I think a more faithful interpretation of this verse isn’t physical, but spiritual. There is a deadly pestilence that is a real problem. It is the sinful state we all deal with and wrestle with until we let God cover us from the pestilence or disease of sin. Our sin, our mistakes, our weaknesses can all be covered by grace through faith in what Jesus has done on our behalf on the cross if we will let Him cover us.
Notice the next image in the text here. Psalm 91:4 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. When a mother bird spreads out her wings over her baby birds, she is doing that at great risk to herself. She is protecting them from the storm as she takes the brunt of it. She is protecting them from the attack of another animal. She risks being wounded, beaten or killed in order to keep her babies safe. She would rather give her own life than have one of her children unprotected. She COVERS them. Completely and with incredible sacrificial commitment.
Do you see with me how even what happens in creation points to the fierce love of God? To cover us, He was wounded. To cover us, He was beaten. To cover us, He gave up His life.
None of these covering aspects are available to us if we stand outside of God. What good is an umbrella in the rain unless we are standing under it? Do you understand? In order to be covered, you have to want God to cover you. Look further in Psalms chapter 91:9-10 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling– even the LORD, who is my refuge– 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
Or how about the end of the chapter? Psalm 91:14-16 14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
This is the bottom line. If you call on God, He will cover you.
It is only as we allow Him to be our covering that we will experience the rest, the safety, the protection, and the deliverance we need. Does God have you covered? Have you said “Yes” to a personal relationship with Him? Is He your go-to? Is He your safe place? Have you called on the Most High, Almighty, Lord God to be your covering? If you come to Him in faith, you won’t be cast away. You will be covered.