“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.” -
Psalm 91:1, 2 & 4
I watch them in the tall shrub outside my window --- robins and finches, sparrows and chickadees --- finding shelter in its dense greenery. Perched on gently swaying branches, fluffing out feathers, they rest for a little while safe from weather elements and predators. They are alert, their bright little eyes watching, yet they exhibit an innocent trust in the haven they have found.
Some years ago I feared I would succumb to the terror of night, arrow by day, pestilence and plague listed in Psalm 91. In one fierce storm all my earthly security was removed. My marriage, finances, reputation and health collapsed and blew away like dust. I was so devastated by such a burden of trials, I felt I would never find relief. But I sought hard after God, and in my great need discovered I was bereft but not abandoned, besieged but not alone, for the Most High God was my shelter and I rested in the shadow of the Almighty.
Three years before the storm hit I experienced my desire for God growing like a thirst. I drank in His Word, sought Him in prayer and worshiped Him joyfully, unaware of what He was preparing me for. When the waves of trauma crashed against me, I could say with the psalmist, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
This is no trite panacea for all problems; it is a diligently cultivated position in relation to God. Psalm 91:9 says, “if you make the Most High your dwelling --- then no harm will befall you”; that is, spiritual harm. As I have experienced, none of us are exempt from the storms of this world, yet if we make God the dwelling place of our souls we are guaranteed eternal security. A safe place is only safe if it is entered into; it cannot protect us if we stand outside. None of us know when a life storm might descend. Delaying an intimate relationship with God to some future time is like standing outside a bomb shelter during an air attack. The bomb shelter is no use unless you are within it.
I have watched the birds find shelter in our shrub during a storm. They land on an outer branch in a flurry of windblown feathers, then clinging with their claws they inch in toward the trunk as far away from the elements as possible. There they rest peacefully, sheltered in the shadow of a strong tree. If they should let go they could be swept away by the wind, so they lock their claws around the steady branch and are secure.
God speaks in the last three verses of Psalm 91, describing the blessing He gives to those who know and love Him. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him, for he acknowledges My name.”
(vs. 14) The literal translation for the word loves is “a deep longing for God”, or a “clinging to God.” He gives His pledge of protection to those who diligently seek Him and love Him.
I like to think birds and other creatures have an innate sense of their Creator. They know how to rest trustfully, as I have observed in the little birds in my shrub. If God protects them, think of how He will protect us.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet no one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” - Jesus, in Matthew 10:29-31