Confidence in Enemy Territory

Psalm 91

Bumper sticker “No Fear” – often interpreted to mean: try anything, full speed ahead without regard for consequences or others, even the sky doesn’t present a limit. In Christian context, does not mean “No Boundaries”. We aren’t supposed to be fearful, living in constant fear:

Rom. 8:15For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Paul elaborates further on that in:

2 Tim. 1:7for God gave us a spirit not of fear [timidity, cowardice] but of power and love and self-control.

World is Satan’s temporary field of operation; remember Job, though. God is truly sovereign over all his creation and continually exercises his authority. Satan no exception to that – he always has, always will operate within boundaries God has established. God has not taken away Satan’s ability to do evil but has placed strict limits and conditions on his exercise of power. Don’t misunderstand, Satan a very dangerous enemy – hence Peter’s strong warning:

1 Pet. 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Our task to live out our daily lives in a spirit “of power and love and self-control”, demonstrating to watching family, friends and neighbors that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) To do that successfully, we need some things that are all provided by God. Necessary to confidence: security, deliverance from harm, assurance of future help. Talking here about real confidence, not just the appearance of it; confidence that withstands test of time and discouragement and attacks from our sworn enemy, Satan.

A. security v.1-2

home is a big deal, an important place – has profound shaping influence on all of life, especially children

if home is safe place with right ingredients to make it place pleasing to God, all family members will generally be better adjusted, better behaved in all of life

if an essential piece is missing – a parent, safety, discipline, love – will be reflected in behaviors and attitudes

if individual doesn’t feel secure at home, is hard or impossible to feel secure elsewhere; for those who struggle with fear or anxiety, home often their only haven

all of this no secret to God! being good Heavenly Father, has made provision to meet need of his children for security

further elaboration on theme of God-our-dwelling-place from previous psalm – remember how previous Psalm begins

Psa. 90:1LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

if God is our home, not God’s house or heaven but God, then some things are true:

we live under his shelter – shield from danger so ones there will not be overwhelmed by what is harmful; Fallout Shelter, shielding from radioactive fallout from atomic bomb

we abide in his protective shadow – whatever affects us must pass through God’s filter first; either filtered out or reduced concentration to level we can safely withstand

sunscreen prevents or reduces amount of harmful light that reaches protected skin

he provides refuge – a place for confident trust – can rest / relax secure in knowledge the one in charge is on duty, will alert to danger, will not fall asleep

he provides fortress – mesuda, Masada – provision in addition to protection; place for storage of supplies to benefit those inside; approach and entrance guarded so that only selected ones can enter

B. deliverance v.3-13

from different sorts of harm (3-8)

snare of the fowler – what would deceive and entrap

deadly diseases – what would cause severe physical harm

terror by night – fear, especially in the dark (nothing to fear but fear itself)

Blessed is that communion with God which renders us impervious to midnight frights, and horrors born of darkness. Not to be afraid is in itself an unspeakable blessing, since for every suffering which we endure from real injury we are tormented by a thousand griefs which arise from fear only. CHS

arrow that flies – weapons launched from ambush

darkness / noonday – 24/7 protection

thousand may fall – calamities that befall the unrighteous

the level of harm protected against (9-13)

Before expounding these verses I cannot refrain from recording a personal incident illustrating their power to soothe the heart, when they are applied by the Holy Spirit. In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighbourhood in which I laboured was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave. I gave mvself up with youthful ardour to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions. I became weary in body and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it. As God would have it, I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker s window in the Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore in a good bold handwriting these words: “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window I gratefully acknowledge, and in the remembrance of its marvellous power I adore the Lord my God. CHS

important to understand proper definition of harm: “2: the occurrence of a change for the worse”

all sorts of things at casual glance, even more involved look that we would consider harmful; but… when look at all of life, especially as God sees it, perspective changes

remember what Joseph said to his brothers: “you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose” (Gen. 50:20, NET)

even in this life, God protects us from those things that would truly bring about a “change for the worse” in us

those who are delivered / not delivered

clear distinction made in v.9: because you have made the Lord your dwelling place…

promises of protection and deliverance not for everyone

two classes of people: saved and lost, righteous and unrighteous, godly and ungodly

only the saved, the righteous, the godly can rightly expect to receive what God has promised

means God uses

God himself will act as needed to intervene in the affairs of mankind, bring about his desired / decreed result

Satan and his agents constantly active, waging war against Christ and his people; Lord Jesus the same, waging war against Satan and his agents

we don’t see the warfare, usually; do see the effects both positive and negative – the devastating effects on those whom Satan successfully targets, the absence of those effects on ones God’s angels protect and help

see Dan. 10:12-14 for example of this in action

C. assurance v.14-16

a favorite of Satan – introduce fear, uncertainty and doubt; God’s antidote – assurance, both internal and external

again, the distinction made, between those who are devoted to God and those who aren’t

God graciously articulates his promise – because this person possesses true faith, God will in return do this

God graciously grants indwelling Spirit who supplies that internal spirit-to-spirit witness of Father-child relationship Rom. 8:16-17

list of promises – reaffirms what has already been said in previous verses (3-13), God declares he will indeed do what has been said about him

all that is promised here bears striking parallel to promises God gave in his covenant with Israel – Lev. 26, Deut. 28

Israel didn’t receive fulfillment of covenant because they failed to keep conditions – e.g., kept running after idols

in part why God gave the covenant with specific conditions – make his people understand they couldn’t satisfy the terms, needed someone else to keep the covenant for them

works out in context of relationship

only those who are in relationship of love and devotion to God can have real assurance

“Not because he deserves to be thus kept, but because with all his imperfections he does love his God. It is love, – love set upon God, which is the distinguishing mark of those whom the Lord secures from ill.” CHS

more important this side of Calvary, only those who are in right relationship with Lord Jesus can have assurance of God’s favor

Big picture – all covenant blessings have been earned by Lord Jesus, are his to dispense at his discretion to his people. God’s people receive the promised blessings in part now, mixed with the hardships and trials of life. It’s the hard times that make assurance necessary and helpful!

Some of our incentive to persevere comes from knowing we will receive promised blessings in full when Jesus comes in final victory. When Jesus declares final victory over all his enemies, including the last one, death, his people will have victory with him. They will receive all the spoils of victory as Jesus reaches his highest stage of exaltation. The salvation of his people will be complete and his work of redemption will have reached its conclusion.

Knowing and understanding what God has promised means we can live confidently with full assurance that our present and our future is secure with God. No matter what happens, no matter how the situation looks, it is precisely what God has intended for us for his glory and our good.

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