Despite the surrounding circumstances and the things that discourage and cause you despair, can you step out of the circumstances and say, That God is my God. He is my refuge. He is my fortress.
I declare it and I'm satisfied in Him. Since mortality is a fact of human existence, we should all be crying out to God for comfort, and God provides an answer to that cry in Psalm 91. Pastor Don Green will call our attention to it today on The Truth Pulpit.
Hi, I'm Bill Wright. We're continuing our series, Here You May Safely Dwell, with part one of a message titled Hope for a Mortal Man. And Don, just watching the news these days can squelch hope.
We sure could use a healthy dose of it. Well, Bill, that's really true. You know, Scripture says that man is born for trouble as the sparks fly upward.
It's just a natural way that life unfolds, and that's true on a society level and it's true at a personal level. Life is difficult, and yet Psalm 91 tells us that we can dwell in the shadow of the Almighty and find peace. And it's a privilege today to be able to open that psalm and to explain this hope to you. I trust that you'll stay with us today as we study God's Word on The Truth Pulpit.
Thanks, Don. And friend, have your Bible open and ready as we join Don Green now in The Truth Pulpit. First of all, the first point is the appropriation of God's protection. The appropriation of God's protection, or you could say in light of the title that I've given it, Hope for a Mortal Man, the appropriation of hope.
The appropriation of hope. And the opening verse invites anyone seeking wisdom to listen in. This is a psalm that speaks directly to you if you will hear it. It speaks directly to you and makes promises to you if you will only hear and respond in faith to what is said in the psalm that follows.
Without limitation, it says in verse 1, he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Anyone who wants wisdom, anyone who wants an answer to the conundrum of this mortal world in which we live can find an answer right here. And he says, he who dwells, and you see that word dwell again, Psalm 90 verse 1, our dwelling place, Psalm 91 verse 1, he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, it says, here's your answer if you want an answer to the brevity of life. The Christian faith and biblical revelation does what happens nowhere else in my judgment in that it honestly addresses the problem of life, it honestly addresses the problem of death, but it doesn't leave you in a place of morbid introspection if you keep going.
You're not meant to simply stop at the problem of death, the problem of mortality, and let that become a darkening force in your mind and in your disposition. What biblical revelation does is it takes you through that and brings you to a point of faith which changes it all into hope and to glory. Look at it with me, verse 1, he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. These terms are emphasizing the majestic and prevailing sovereignty of God. The God of whom he speaks is the God who orders the universe and who is in control of the mortal life of man, who appoints the days of men, and who determines the lengths of time in which we will live on this earth. And if God is your creator, and he is, if he's a creator of the universe, and he is, and he orders everything according to his providence, and he does, then the only place where life is going to find its meaning and true purpose is by knowing this God by faith and trusting him and knowing him. And in knowing him there is great security. Look at verse 1 again, he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Shelter describing a place of protection, a safe place in the midst of a storm. The storm in which he is talking about is not simply an earthly trial or a threat to physical life. The storm, the threat, is the whole meaningless of existence abiding under the wrath of God if we don't somehow get out of that and get out from under it. What is the purpose of life if you are going to abide under the cloud of divine wrath and then die?
You know, where is any meaning to be found in that? Which is the conundrum that was raised by Psalm 90. Psalm 91 comes and by the grace and mercy of God says, here's the answer to this conundrum. It is found in knowing this Most High and this Most Sovereign God will abide in the shadow of the Almighty, a shadow picturing a place of respite, a place of protection from a burning noon heat. And so there is shelter, there is safety in this God, there is relief from the relentless assault of life and the assault of mortality.
Here is where you find your respite from all of that. It's in the God of whom he speaks here. And the one who comes to this God by faith enjoys his fatherly care. Look at Psalm 91 verse 2. He says, I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.
Look at the first person pronouns. I will say to the Lord, my refuge, my fortress, my God, I trust. And the whole point here is with these first person pronouns, the psalmist is declaring his faith. He steps forth out of the shadows of the mortality of life and he triumphantly declares his faith in the God of whom he speaks. He says, this God is my refuge. This God is my fortress.
He is where I find my protection. And in the context of this, beloved, what I want you to see is he is talking about something far greater, something far more significant than simply finding protection in the midst of the immediate earthly problems that he might have been going through. This is more than, I mean you can apply it in this way if you're so inclined, it's not a bad application, but this is more than the threat of physical death of which he speaks. It's more than just coming here and saying I'm facing surgery and this is what, you know, and I'm going to trust the Lord like this.
It's fine to do that. But what I want you to see so that you don't miss the import of this great, great psalm is that he's talking about something that goes to the very meaning and the very essence of life. It is here in this God of whom he speaks that a man is, and only here I should say, it is here and only here that a man is able to transcend what would otherwise be a perfectly meaningless existence in this passing transient world. Now, let's just see these things back to back and go back to Psalm 90 for just a moment here. He says in Psalm 90 verse 9, he says, All our days have declined in your fury.
We finished our years like a sigh. For the days of our lives they contain seventy years, or if due to strength eighty years, but their pride is but labor and sorrow, for soon it's gone and we fly away. We live this life, it's filled with trouble, and then we die and we go away.
What is the point of that? He says, and he cries out, Teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom, looking honestly, staring the futility of life directly in its face, praying for wisdom, praying for help. And now in Psalm 91, there comes this great refreshing stream from which to drink that says here is the answer to the futility of life. It is found in a true knowledge by faith in the true God of the universe, in the Lord, in Yahweh, the God of Israel, the God who has revealed himself to his people. Here and here alone is the thing that unlocks to this otherwise meaningless existence. And so it's more than just the fact that you get protected from death in a particular circumstance, this is saying that in the God of the Bible, whom we now know in light of New Testament revelation as the Lord Jesus Christ, in Christ is the answer to the meaninglessness of existence. And in Christ you have security and protection from what would otherwise be a meaningless life.
Whether you live or die, this is what you find. And the psalmist says that Yahweh, the Lord, there in all caps, Yahweh, the covenant-keeping God, the promise-keeping God, the God of his people, he is sovereign over all. That's who he is in his own essence. And look at what he says, verse 2, I will say to that covenant-keeping God, my refuge, my fortress, my God in whom I trust. He's saying that the God who is the real true God of all, the God over all, that's my God.
It is a declaration of faith. He says the God that is over all is my God and as a result of that I am safe in him. I am safe in him. My life has meaning. My life has purpose going forward. I am protected from, I am protected from all of the emptiness that otherwise would mark the reality of life. I'm protected from all of that because I belong to him.
He's mine. To be, and here's the thing, beloved, whatever else is happening in life for you, to be under the care of that God is the answer to your mortality. To be in union with by faith with the Lord Jesus Christ is to have the most significant, the most significant aspect of life, the most central purpose of life, the essence of life has just been defined for you in Scripture. It is by faith in this God to whom the Bible reveals.
And if you have him, you have all. If you do not have Christ, you have nothing even if you have everything that the world could offer you. And so Psalm 90 exposes the emptiness of life. Psalm 91 gives an answer that comes from outside this world. God as it were, I'm speaking quite metaphorically here, God as it were steps into the world and injects meaning into it in a way that would otherwise be utterly lost to you. And so it is in Psalm in these first two verses that you find the appropriation of hope. By faith he says, this is my God, I have hope, I have security, I have everything that I need.
My soul is satisfied in Christ and in Christ alone. So do you know God with that kind of faith? Do you have that kind of faith where despite the surrounding circumstances and the things that discourage and cause you despair, can you step out of the circumstances and say that God is my God, he is my refuge, he is my fortress, I declare it and I'm satisfied in him. That is biblical faith. That is spiritual growth, that is spiritual maturity.
And this is what Scripture sets forth. And what I want you to see is it's lofty, it's noble, it is the most wonderful thing that ever could happen. All of a sudden with all of the death and discouragement and despair around you, all of a sudden you find that there is this high ground in rarified air to stand and say my life has meaning, I have everything I need because I know this God. And that's what it calls us to. Now, probably a little convicting for some of us to, you know, we think about the petty things that we get wrapped up in and the petty things that discourage us.
We realize that we fall short of this high aspiration that is laid forth before us. But what I want you to see is that this is the birthright and the prerogative of every true believer in Christ to have this attitude and this prevailing disposition in your mind. This is my God, this is my refuge. I'll live life with a sense of purpose and confidence despite what happens as mortality starts to seep more and more into my life and take more and more of my earthly strength away. I'm going to be renewed in my inner man. I'm going to be strengthened day by day by my faith in Christ. This is reality for the Christian. And it is a reality of surpassing glory and worth that transcends everything in life. So, let's go on. Point number two, the application of hope, let's say.
The application of hope. When you come to verse three, there is a notable shift in the pronouns that are being used in this major section of the psalm. As I said earlier, he shifts to the second person, you. In verses three through thirteen, he uses that pronoun you, the singular pronoun you, you singular, not y'all, as we say around here. In verses three to thirteen, he's using a singular form of the pronoun you.
Some twenty times, he uses the pronoun you in the singular form. And so what he's doing now, having opened with this statement and declaration of faith, now he is bringing it to the reader and he is going to apply it to you. He intends for his declaration of faith to be appropriated by his reader by faith as well. He intends for you to take what he said in the first two verses and make it personal.
And in so doing, he declares the greatness of this God with all manner of declarations of his attributes, all manner of declaration of promises. This is a very pastoral psalm. The psalmist here is writing to encourage you. He is writing to strengthen you individually as you walk in this mortal world. And so you're meant to pick up Psalm 91, read it in light of Psalm 90, and find that there is a direct word from God through his word to encourage your soul personally and individually.
This is meant to be appropriated. There is no excuse for anyone walking out of this room in a discouraged, disheveled state of soul. There is no excuse for that if you know God, if you know Christ, if you're exercising faith in him. What is said in this next section is designed to lift your spirits and to encourage you and to strengthen you even as you walk through the difficulties of this mortal world. And so what he does here, having...remember, what he did in these first two verses is he stated in a very general way the theme of God's protection. Look at it there again in verse 1. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
That's his general theme. Now in verse 3 he takes it and he applies it in a variety of ways to cover all of life. And the result of that general principle is that God's people live life with a sense of safety and well-being. This is to be the prevailing dominant sentiment that we have as we go through life. He is trusting the God who is our shelter and our refuge, trusting him to exercise that loving sovereignty in our life no matter what his providence has ordained for us.
And so let's look at it and enjoy it together. He says there in verse 3, he says, For it is he who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you may seek refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and a ballwork. You will not be afraid of the terror by night or of the arrow that flies by day, of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
And what he's doing here is he's using a variety of different metaphors, of different word pictures, to describe the various kinds of threats that come to us throughout the course of life. And what he is saying, what he is communicating here, is that God protects you in the midst of this mortal life. God protects you like a mother bird cares for her young. He guards you like a soldier's hardened armor in battle protects him from the assault of the enemy, from the arrows and the threat and the ammunition of the enemy. God is guarding you.
He is protecting you through all of those things. Now, let me just back up and say that for those of you that have been raised and nurtured in legalistic religion, that have been raised that, you know, it's a matter of pleasing God with your obedience to external rules, and if you screw up on the rules, man, watch out, because God's going to get you for that. Well, then you need, you know, it's really hard to get out of that mindset and to view God as someone who is basically hostile to you, and his response to you is premised and conditioned on your external obedience.
And so the answer to everything is for you to try harder. That's a pretty miserable way to live, isn't it, for those of you that have been exposed to it, and you know something about the crushing weight that that puts on your conscience, and you view God as someone distant. Well, Psalm 91 gives you a clarifying perspective that changes the whole perspective.
One of the prevalent things that I've been trying to do again and again and again through everything I've said in the pulpit is to just try to convince you, to persuade you from Scripture that God is good to his people, that God cares for you, that God is providentially concerned for you and ordering everything for your benefit and for your good. And I have to keep saying that and keep repeating it, because your carnal heart is prone to shrink back from that and not trust God for who he is. I don't know how we justify that in our minds. How can we ever question the goodness of God after Christ went to the cross in order to redeem us for himself? When Christ suffered for us, when Christ bled for us, when Christ was buried for us, when Christ was raised for us, when Christ ascended to heaven for us, when he intercedes at the right hand of God for us, how do we ever think anything other than God is perfectly loving, perfectly good, and perfectly committed to our well-being throughout all of eternity? How do we ever think anything else?
I ask you. But we question it, don't we? We have the remnant of Adam's doubt in our hearts, and sometimes we fuel it with our anxiety and not responding to things by faith. And so we come back to this again and again and again, that God is good to his people without exception, and those who belong to him by Christ are on the receiving end of a fatherly love, a fatherly care, a fatherly protection that he will never suspend in its operation, that he will never take away any more than a mama duck on the pond would abandon her little ducklings to a threat from underneath them, any more than a mother bird would abandon her little ones chirping for their morning meal. As that mother bird gladly provides and protects in an infinitely greater way, that's how God deals with us as his people. Now I ask you, in light of those things, how can you ever justify doubt? How can you ever accuse God of ill intentions toward you just because life doesn't go quite the way that you want it to?
How do we ever get into that position? It's inexcusable, beloved. It is not right for us to think about God in hostile adversarial terms after all that Christ has done for us and is doing for us even now in keeping us preserving in this faith for a final salvation to be revealed at the last day. Here's the problem. I'm about ready to take off my shoes and throw my shoes just to make an emphatic point here.
That's not a very good idea. Here's the problem. For most of you, if not all of you, one time or another in your life, your inclination is to accuse God of unkindness or unfairness in his dealings with you and quick to justify yourself and say, I don't deserve this. I've been good.
I've done all the right things. Why are these bad things happening to me? When your whole perspective should be the exact opposite, when you start to justify yourself and start to dwell in the self-pity, your accusation should not be, God, why is this happening to me? Your accusation should be against the man or the woman in the mirror and saying, who are you to question the goodness of God in light of the greatness of Christ and all that he has done for you? We should not be pointing the finger at God for unkindness. We should be pointing the finger at ourselves for our lack of faith after all that has been revealed to us in Christ.
That's the only proper way to think about life. Don't agree with your doubts and your unbelief. Agree with God that he's good, that he's great, that he's a wonderful king over your life, and come to him by faith, the faith that says in verse 2, this is my God in whom I trust, period, because that's the kind of faith of which he's worthy. Well, we'll pause there for today, but Pastor Don Green will wrap up his message titled, Hope for Mortal Man, next time here on The Truth Pulpit.
Join us then as we move further into our current series, Here You May Safely Dwell, looking at Psalms 90 through 92. Meanwhile, we invite you to visit our website, thetruthpulpit.com. There you can download free podcasts or find out how to receive free CD copies of Don's series. And if you want to go even more in depth, you'll also find the link Follow Don's Pulpit. That'll take you to Don's full length weekly sermons, not subject to the time editing we need for radio broadcasts. By the way, if you're in the Cincinnati area, check out the service times for Truth Community Church, also on our website. And plan a visit, because we'd love to welcome you. Again, that's all at thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you next time for more from The Truth Pulpit.
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