Psalm 91

What is the dividing line between presumption and faith. There are those who will take the promise of God to protect us, and then start trying to walk on water. There are others who know that the Lord could protect us, but will He choose to now? In their uncertainty, they are unwilling to risk a step outside the bunker of their personal control.

Psalm 91 ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty …’

has some interesting perspectives on this. The Lord’s promise of shelter has a condition, which is that we must dwell in the shelter of the most high. This is elaborated on in v9

9 If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.

Here the condition of refuge is broken into two essential elements. The first is a declaration: The Lord is my refuge. This is not something we drift into so much as a decision of the heart that is strong enough to go public. The second part is that we make the most High our dwelling. This is along the lines of John 15 where we ‘remain in Christ’, or ‘abide in Him’ as some translations put it. This remaining is associated with Christ being our emotional and spiritual source so that our lives are filled with Christ. It is also associated with our living His way in obedience so that our lives are an expression of His will.

Both of these aspects, the declaration and the remaining, are important. In making a declaration we have made a public commitment and there is no going back. From then on the Lord is our refuge. We are both committed to one another. However faithless I may prove, from then on the Lord will remain faithful. It is this very certainty however that can breed presumption. There is also a need to dwell in the Lord’s presence through consistent times of prayer and Bible reading to remain close enough to Him that He can lead us by His Spirit.

When we are under the Lord’s protection, we find His protection is more amazing than we could ever imagine.

He saves us both from the fowler’s snare and the deadly pestilence. The fowler’s snare is deliberately hidden in the place where we will frequent. It is a trap that needs incredible leading or strength to keep us out of it, or break us free when we fall into it. The deadly pestilence can take us just from randomly going through life, or more troubling because love dictates that we visit someone already infected by that disease. If this were not enough, His protection even extends to those who are foolish enough to tread on the lion and the cobra.

This protection is not like an insurance policy that sits there waiting for something to go wrong, but is active. The Lord is active in covering us with his feathers. (v4). We are active in not fearing. (v5). This overcoming of fear is essential, for when we are driven by fear, then we are driven from under the Lord’s wings into the place of danger; or more passively, we are frozen by fear into a place of apparent danger, when the Lord would lead us to a place of safety.