The author Norman Vincent Peale was known for popularizing the “Power of Positive Thinking.” He once related the story of a stranger recognizing and approaching him on a New York City.
“Please, Dr. Peale, you have to help me, I’ve got some problems, and I just can’t handle them any more,” the man cried desperately as he grabbed him by the lapels of his coat.
“If you will let go of my coat,” Peale replied, “I will take you to a place that is full of people who don’t have any problems.
Greatly encouraged, the stranger agreed, as Peale told him it was only a couple blocks away. He then led the man to Forest Lawn Cemetery. Pointing, Peale proclaimed, “Look, there are tens of thousands of people in there, and I can assure you my good man, that not one of them has any problems!”
This reminds me of a quote by Dr. Charles Lever, “If you have a pulse, you have problems.” As my friend and preaching colleague, Wilson Adams often observes, “Life is hard and…some days it gets harder.”
Life’s difficulties, problems and challenges are not a 21st century phenomenon. The ancient Patriarch Job who lived around 1900 B.C. penned, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (14:1).
Psalm 91 offers help and hope for every generation who faces adversity, deals with evil people, and experiences unexpected challenges and trials. The Psalmist presents three facets of an overcoming life.
A Life of Faith and Trust.
The Psalmist begins with this confident expression of faith.“I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Faith is necessary to experience God’s blessings in times of trouble. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. And lean not on your own understanding,” the wise man advised (Prov. 3:5). Faith and trust go hand in hand.
The Psalmist Asaph commented on the downfall of ancient Israel with this observation. “They did not believe in God, and did not trust in His salvation” (Ps. 78:22). Too often we misplace our trust in our own ingenuity. Or accumulated wealth. Or the wisdom of men. Or political parties. Faith leads us to trust God. Period. The Psalmist reminds us that He is the “Most High.” He is higher than earthly Rulers. He is “The Almighty,” who is all sufficient and adequate to meet every need we have. And He is the all powerful “God” whose glory and greatness is all surpassing.
A Life of Peace and Protection
Note the Psalmist’s confident expressions regarding God’s protection.
- “He will deliver you…”
- He will cover you with his pinions and under His wings…”
- “His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark…”
- He will be your “refuge.”
- His angels…will guard you in all your ways…”
Safety, security, and protection are found in a close relationship with the Lord. As a result, the writer offers this calming promise.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
Admittedly, there are unanswered questions about the “how” of God’s protection, providence, and especially the role of angels. However, we believe that God can work all things together for good for His people and in His time.
A Life of Satisfaction and Salvation
The Psalm ends with the affirmation that God keeps His promises. He will..
…answer our prayers.
…be with us.
As a result we can find satisfaction in life and receive salvation in spite of the problems we face.
We are, however, called upon to be obedient and love the Lord. Verse 14 exhorts “hold fast to me in love.” Wiersbe says that means “to cling to, to cleave, to be passionate.” The Message, a popular paraphrase renders it: “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble.”
Allow life’s problems to make you stronger, become better, and draw closer to God.
As one unknown author put it.
God does not permit adversity
for the purpose of defeating us
but for the purpose of benefitting us.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
2 responses to “Psalm 91”
Very edifying. Thanks
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