By Whitney Miller
If you make the Most High your dwelling -
Even the Lord, who is my refuge -
Then no harm will befall you,
No disaster will come near your tent.
For He will give His angels charge concerning you
To guard you in all your ways;
They will lift you up in their hands,
So that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
You will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Psalm 91 is a favorite for many of us. As I read the second portion (above), several questions bubbled up in my spirit. What does it mean to make the Most High my dwelling place? In what sense will this make me "disaster-proof"? How will the angels lift me up? And in what sense should we understand the last verse, the one about lions and cobras?
First, making the Most High our dwelling place. In times of distress, we all seek to find a hiding place where we can hole up until the danger has passed. For those who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, their only hiding places are ones they make for themselves. Sometimes these are sufficient to save the body, but they do precious little to comfort the soul. Anything and anyone we trust in other than the omnipotent, eternal God is destined to fail us. Whether or not a person chooses to acknowledge this fact, it rests in the recesses of their subconscious, leaving them restless and exposed.
But for those of us in relationship with Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we have seen His ability to save in times past. We have the witness of the Scriptures to confirm that the Lord does whatever He pleases, that no purpose of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). We further know that the Lord's love is from everlasting to everlasting for those who fear Him (Ps 103:17). To make the Lord our dwelling and our refuge means, when trial or tempest come, we seek to find refuge in Him alone. In so doing, we find a peace that the world can neither attain nor comprehend.
This all makes perfect sense; but how do we make sense of verse 10, which says no harm will befall us, no disaster come near our tent? Surely it is not the case that once we believe in Jesus Christ, we are relieved of all our woes. Though God has been exceedingly merciful to me and mine, there are still people dear to me who are not saved. There are still circumstances, illnesses and weaknesses from which I have asked deliverance and still remain burdened. I imagine you would say the same. Knowing that God never fails to accomplish all He has spoken, how do we understand the safety He promises?
To understand, we must remind ourselves that God's perspective is an eternal one. Though He is concerned with everything about which we are concerned, He cares more for the souls of men than for their comfort or temporal happiness. If you believe in God's sovereignty and abiding love, then you know nothing He has allowed in your life is for your destruction. No, in fact, even what the enemy intends for evil, the Lord intends for good. God's great desire is to give us a bulletproof faith that knows and trusts Him. Even when we can't see what good can come of our circumstances, God is powerful enough to bring beauty from ashes.
To ensure our safety, peace and victory, God sends His angels to us in our moment of need. They lift our gaze toward heaven, and we see the God who loves us and has not left us. In their nearness and ministry, we become more aware of the closeness of our Heavenly Father and are safeguarded from stumbling in our faith. God is still good. His plans for us are good, and He is working all things together for good for us right now, where we are.
The astounding result of seeking refuge in God is revealed in the last verse. Elsewhere in the Bible, Satan has been identified as a destroyer, a roaring lion who seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). He is also portrayed as a deceiver, a crafty serpent in Genesis 3. Here, the psalmist says, because we have trusted in God, we will trample on both the lion and the cobra. Satan will neither succeed in destroying our faith, nor in deceptively luring us away from God. God promises to dispatch His angels to secure this victory, but it will actually be OUR feet which crush the enemy. In so doing, we actually enforce the victory of Christ foretold in the Garden (Genesis 3:15) and won at Calvary. All this is assured -- if we will make God our dwelling and run to Him for shelter when disaster come.
What about you? Where do you habitually turn for shelter when faced with trials? If your security is in any place other than God Almighty, though it may yield protection, it will never yield peace. Consider the fact that God allows trials in our lives to test our faith. He does so, not to tear us down, but to build us up and draw us near. Will you give up your man-made tent and instead choose to dwell in the shelter of the Most High? If you do, you will not only find protection, but victory over the assaults of the evil one and rest for your soul.