God Is Our Shelter
Preparing for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost: One Days before Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
Old Testament: Jeremiah 24:1-10
Gospel: Luke 9:43b-48
Psalter: Psalm 146
Old Testament: Proverbs 28:11-28
Gospel: Luke 9:43b-48
Hear our prayers, God of power, and through the ministry of your Son free us from the grip of the tomb, that we may desire you as the fullness of life and proclaim your saving deeds to all the world. Amen.
You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,[a]
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the hunter
and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and defense.
You will not fear the terror of the night
or the arrow that flies by day
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble;
I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them
and show them my salvation (Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16).
by Joan Stott
This magnificent Psalm of deep personal trust in God begins with the words: “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty….” My imagination immediately picked up on the following words: “shelter” and “shadow” and transposed the words into gardening terms! Plants that grow in “sheltered” and “shadowed” situations have special requirements— including toughness to cope with little light. Conversely, they also need to be protected from direct sunlight to ensure that they reach their full potential. The term “living in the shadow” is often a derogatory statements about a person who eclipses others because of their strong personality. Yet in this instance, being or living in God’s shadow is a great blessing, because we simply could not live within the “light” of God’s glorious being - so we shelter from God and we shelter in God!
In the first verse of the Psalm, the author has named God by four ancient divine titles,(1) as he apparently struggled to give God all appropriate honour: ...“Elyon” – God “the Most High”; “Shaddai” - translated as “the Almighty”; “Yahweh” - in English it is “Jehovah”; and “Elohim” - the name for the one true God of the people of Israel.
The Psalmist had obviously led a rather difficult life, because otherwise, how could he testify to God’s capacity and willingness to offer shelter, refuge, encouragement, neediness, security, to calm doubts, and to understand what it means to feel and be dishonoured! It is no wonder that this song of praise and trust resonates with so many people; and I believe that is so because it is illustrates what “real” in life, and is not an imaginary situation. Bad things really do happen to “good” people, but we can be encouraged by the author’s experiences; and by praying such a prayer, the author invites others into his own experiences and shares with us his responses to those problematic situations. For me, that is the honesty and challenge of the Psalms – if he did that and survived with God’s help - then I can as well! “...The Lord says, "I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them....”
(1) “The New Jerusalem Bible - Study Edition.” See “Footnotes” Page 909. © 1985 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd; & Doubleday a Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. Used with permission.
PRAYER: Move us to praise your gracious will, for in Christ Jesus you have saved us from the deeds of death and opened for us the hidden ways of your love. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Check out Joan Stott’s website “The Timeless Psalms,” here.