He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1 KJV
For some reason, I cannot escape the word dwell. Nor the word abide. I don’t seem to do either well, nor do I fully understand their meanings in light of my life, I’m thinking. I know what it means to live somewhere – as I have been living in my same home on the same small farm for 22+ years.
I know what it means to put down roots, establish habits, stake a claim, move into a neighborhood. I love Psalm 91 for many reasons, mostly the promises that God gives us in this Psalm. I have read it countless times. I’ve marked it up. Highlighted it. Collected feathers through the years as a reminder that God indeed covers me with His feathers.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
John 1:14 MSG
Jesus gives us the example of what it means to dwell. He demonstrated that when He came to earth and He made His home here for a while. He moved in, made friends, hung out, shared meals, worked, lived and laughed. He dwelled in the place where His people were.
The psalmist states that for those who dwell in the secret place, a promise is given – they will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
This is the point that I was meditating on this week. I had always read (mind you, I have read this passage countless times) this verse as a whole promise, neglecting my part. I wrongly assumed that the shelter, refuge, safety and His wings were all mine regardless.
How I got to thinking on Psalm 91 was from world events that have me reeling, as I am sure have you doing the same. Young children, innocent lives. Mothers, the aged, families are being ripped apart by unspeakable violence. And, not only this year, this has been happening for ages past. There really is nothing new under the sun, but when it’s happening repeatedly, my heart is overwhelmed. So, I read, and reread and read Psalm 91 again. That’s when I occurred to me that we have a part in this.
Dwell – in Hebrew is yaw-shab’. A verb in this usage, meaning to sit, sit down, to be set, remain, stay, to have one’s abode. The broader meaning includes to settle and to marry. It is a prolific word, occurring 1,088 times in the Old Testament.
In a sense, we are assured lodging under the shadow of God. Imagine His shadow. I’m guessing it’s rather large, all encompassing, able to cover more than I can possibly fathom. There is room for me, ample room. However, God is not chasing me down with His shadow trying to cover me – rather like chasing a 2-year old with an umbrella as he’s running in the rain. Impossible to cover that moving target. So, I believe it is with us.
In order to experience and have that shadow covering us, we have got to move in, settle down, marry the Bridegroom (Christ, the Son of God) and live.
When we lived in Central America, life was much easier if we adapted to the culture around us rather than expecting the culture to adapt to us. We had to learn the language, the culture, how to shop, drive, get mail, make friends and live in community with people who had not lived with an American before. Not easy both ways. There was a lot of adjusting on our parts, and theirs, I am sure. If we wanted to buy something at a store, we had to use colones or quetzales; dollars were not accepted. My American driver’s license was only good for so long before I needed to get the country’s one.
I had to adapt to my surroundings. Follow the laws of the land – not American laws, but Costa Rican or Guatemalan (or also Honduran, Panamanian or El Salvadorian). I could not do my own thing, live and let live, and expect all to forgive me because I did not take the time to learn. It did take time and I did learn, but the nuances were only picked up by being among others.
Not unlike that shadow of the Almighty.
When I humble myself and dwell in the secret place of God – the hiding place – I have endless protection of the Almighty. If you notice, two names of God are given in this one verse – Elyon (most High) and Shaddai (Almighty). Even in this we are given powerful and comforting names of God. Only God can have these names and they are for us when we step in, move close, abide and settle down.
I thank God for His correction in my wrong theology. I wanted all the work done for me when God is inviting me to participate. He does not demand that I live with Him, nor does He confine me once I am there. He has the door open, extends the invitation and covers me once I am there.
Awwwwe. Doesn’t His shadow soothe? Are you coming with me?
LORD God, thank You for being my hiding place. May I constantly seek to be in Your presence and under the shadow of Shaddai. Forgive me for not running to You or seeking refuge elsewhere. Only You can cover me and protect me. Only You are Elyon and Shaddai. Thank You for extending grace to me. AMEN