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We have tended to seek shortcuts to spiritual growth and have been left with a veneer of superficial spirituality.
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In The Shelter of the Most High, by Jeanene Reese

This article is courtesy of Image Magazine
and appeared first in September, 1995.

    Snapshots in your mind.

    Those inescapable pictures that you have captured, often only briefly, with the lens of your eye. Images that remain in the photo album of your memory as sharp and clear reminders of what you have seen, heard, and experienced.

    Some are precious and endearing, others painful and haunting. All of them race through the mind occasionally jarring us from the daily routine of our lives. Three have been flashing across my mind lately.

    Bright blue-eyes brimmed with tears that pooled then spilled down sore and swollen cheeks. Her face was young and pretty, but the sorrow that was etched on it seemed inexpressible and inconsolable. She held her arms tightly about her and rocked gently as she wept, seeking some form of comfort if only from herself.

    A pair of spider-like arms and legs that wrapped themselves around others it in what seemed like a stranglehold. The dark-eyed, dark-skinned, dark-haired boy was quick, intelligent, and friendly—he would do anything to please anyone. Desperately thin, he was starving for everything—food, conversation, touch, safety.

    A hospital room filled with the sights, sounds, and smell of death. The elderly woman lying on the bed, obviously in considerable pain, still looked up expectantly each time the door opened. She explained to those around her, and no one in particular, that she was waiting for her daughter or son to visit. That look was still on her face when she died alone.

    Isolation, rootlessness, violence, abandonment, loss, pain, deprivation, neglect, loneliness, abuse, fear: these are words that depict the human condition. They are the pictures we see everyday if we open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds to them. For all of the troubled, hurting, doubting people in the world, Psalm 91 might offer security, solace, and substance upon which to base one's life.

Section 1

    Four images of security are adorned with four divine names in the first section of the psalm, verses 1 & 2. The individual who makes her home in the Lord will find herself sheltered--given asylum, sanctuary, or hidden--by the Most High. He is the supreme Creator and Sustainer of the world.

    The picture of dwelling in the shadow of the Almighty depicts a sense of permanent guardianship like a mother bird caring for her young. The name used here for God, Shaddai is found in Exodus 6:3 where he is the one who sustained the homeless patriarchs.

    It is no wonder that the psalmist slips into a personal and emphatic declaration of the Yahweh as his refuge and fortress. This is his God in whom he trusts.


    In the second section of this psalm, verses 3-13, God is revealed as the great protector. He will deliver, cover with his pinions, provide refuge under his wings, and serve as a shield and buckler. There is no threat that cannot be overcome--God can conquer them all.

    The numerical images in verse 7 of "a thousand" and "ten thousand" could be taken literally, but are probably a poetic devise meant to imply a large multitude. The real emphasis in the verse is not the force of those who fall, but the divine protection offered the faithful one. The psalmist is told that he look and see the punishment of the wicked. No maliciousness is intended here, rather the assurance of God's justice and righteousness.

    The reason for and extent of God's divine protection are is based upon your making the Lord your refuge, on making the Most High your dwelling place. The closing verses of the second section provide two powerful promises for those under God's providence. First, the psalmist says that when you are weak and vulnerable, angels will bear you up on their hands. The second promise is for strength beyond imagination when you tread on the lion and the adder.

Section 2
Section 3

    The final section of this great psalm, verses 14-16, provides a delightful surprise: God speaks. He makes a vow to those who love me and those who know his name. Eight commitments are made directly from God: I will deliver, I will protect, I will answer, I will be with, I will rescue, I will honor, I will satisfy with long life, and I will show my salvation. Any one of these promises would be enough to sustain a believer throughout his life; the combination of them is almost overwhelming.


    Snapshots in the mind. Images of human suffering, pain, and loss that cannot be erased. But God frames them with his loving nature and offers hope, protection, and comfort for those who will live in the shelter of the Most High.


HEARTLIGHT(sm) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Article copyright © 1993, Jeanene Reese. Used by permission.
Design copyright © 1997, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
May be reprinted and reused for non-commercial purposes only if copyright credits are appropriately displayed.
HEARTLIGHT and the flared heart design are service marks of Heartlight, Inc.