Derek begins this week reading from Psalm 91, calling this “God’s atomic bomb shelter.” What conditions do we need to meet to continually dwell in this secret place of the Lord? Derek will reveal them – also relating personal experiences where he was kept from harm.
It’s good to be with you again at the beginning of a new week, sharing with you Keys to Successful Living which God has placed in my hand through many years of personal experience and Christian ministry.
This week I’ll be continuing with the theme which I commenced last week: Where to Find Security.
But let me begin by saying thank you to those of you who’ve been writing to me. Before I finish this talk, we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. It means a great deal to me to hear how this radio ministry of mine has been helping you and blessing you. So please take time to write, even if it’s only a brief personal note.
Now back to our theme: Where to Find Security.
In my talks last week I pointed out that the quest for security springs from a universal craving of the human heart, irrespective of nationality, or culture, or social or economic status.
In the course of human history, and particularly in our contemporary culture, man has sought security in many different ways and forms. In certain areas, and to a certain extent, he has achieved a limited kind of security. But never has he achieved total or permanent security.
On the other hand, in a completely different way, the wisdom of God, speaking through the pages of Scripture, offers total security. Listen to what wisdom says here, in Proverbs, chapter 1, verse 33:
“Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” (NIV)
I’m going to read those words again. Just ponder on the total security; physical, emotional, complete. “Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Once our ears are open to listen, wisdom discloses to us two different realms of being; the temporal and the eternal. The security which wisdom offers has its foundation in the latter realm, the eternal. On the other hand, since all human efforts to achieve security are limited to the temporal realm, any success they achieve is of the same kind; it’s temporal, temporary, but never permanent. The basis of the security which the Bible offers consists of a direct personal relationship with Jesus Christ, beautifully summed up in that famous Psalm, the Shepherd’s Psalm, Psalm 23. In verse 1, David says:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.” (NIV)
That’s security in time, in this life. The supply of all of my needs is guaranteed on the basis of my personal relationship to the Lord. I shall lack nothing.
And then, in the fourth verse of the same Psalm, David speaks about the transition out of time into eternity. He says:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you [that’s the Lord] for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (NIV)
There, as I’ve said, is security not just in this life, but in the next world. And in that moment of transition, David was absolutely confident that the Lord would be with him and would receive him out of time, into eternity, and the same confidence is available to each one of us who makes that firm decision and commitment: the Lord is my Shepherd.
In my talks this week, I’m going to deal with various aspects of security in this present life; security in time of trouble, financial security, emotional security and so on. We’ll be studying together the various ways in which God provides this type of security and also the conditions we have to meet in order to qualify for His security in each area of our lives.
Today I’m going to share about security in time of trouble, war, famine, and so on. I need to emphasize right at the start that I will not be speaking merely from theory, but on the basis of my own personal experience in conditions of this kind, and before this talk closes, I will be speaking briefly about some of my own experiences.
One passage that promises total security in such conditions, in war, famine, pestilence, and so on, is found in Psalm 91 which has been called “God’s atomic bomb shelter,” and I’m going to read now the first ten verses of Psalm 91, then I’m going to comment on them. Listen carefully as I read these beautiful and powerful words.
“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.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling, even the Lord, who is my refuge, then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.” (NIV)
Now, let me offer just a few comments. We need to notice that there are conditions for coming into that total security that the Psalmist speaks of. He begins in verse 1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High.” Now, in the King James Version, that word “shelter” is translated, “secret place,” and I believe that is really an excellent translation because the root meaning of the Hebrew word used there is “a secret,” so I’m going to use that phrase; “the secret place.” He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. That speaks of a continuing position in God. It’s not somebody who just runs into the secret place in a time of crisis, but it’s someone whose dwelling, whose permanent abiding situation is in the secret place of the Most High.
In my talk tomorrow, I’m going to speak about how to get into that secret place, but today we’re just observing that the condition is that we have to dwell in a certain place, otherwise the security is not guaranteed to us. He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. The word that’s translated, “rest,” is frequently used of spending the night. So the suggestion is that during the hours of darkness, we’ll have a place of complete protection.
Then, the second condition that I want to point out is in verse 2: I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,” and so on. That’s very important too.
One other essential condition is a bold, personal confession of our faith in God and our relationship to Him. We not merely have to believe in our hearts; we have to say with our mouth. In another place, the psalmist says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so whom He hath redeemed out of the hand of the enemy.” Redemption is not effective till we say it. We make it effective by our own personal confession.
Then let’s look at the various forms of trouble against which protection is promised. I’ll just read them without commenting at length, the fowler’s snare... the deadly pestilence... the terror by night... the arrow that flies by day... the pestilence in darkness... the plague at midday, and then in verse 7, anything that lays men low. “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.”
I can say that I’ve witnessed that as a soldier, a hospital attendant, in the desert in World War II. I remember one day when the enemy was attacking with bombs, sitting down, calmly in the middle of the desert and watching the bombs fall in a ring all around me, but none of them came near me, and at that time those words came so clearly to me; “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.”
To confirm what I’ve been saying about the secret place of the Most High, I want to speak just briefly about some of my own personal experiences.
With my first wife, Lydia, and our adopted family of eight girls, six of whom six were Jewish, one was Arab; one was English, I was living in Jewish Jerusalem during the years that the State of Israel came into being, 1947 to 1948, and really, at that time we witnessed many of those things that are described there in Psalm 91. There was a condition of famine, a shortage of water, a desperate shortage of food among the whole Jewish population and yet in a sovereign way, God provided us continually with sufficient water and sufficient food.
And then, there was continual danger. There were snipers in the streets. One of our girls was crossing the street and the person right beside her was shot down, right in the street, but it didn’t touch our daughter, our eldest daughter, Tikva.
And then, when the war actually broke out in Jerusalem, the house we were living in was less than a quarter of a mile from the front line and for about six weeks we lived in the laundry room, below the basement. When we emerged, we found about 150 window panes in our house that had been broken by bullets. I remember on one occasion, a bullet ricocheted and came into a room and just slivered down my wife’s leg but it didn’t do her any harm.
So you see, when I speak about the “secret place of the Most High,” I’m not just offering you theory; I’m talking about something that I’ve proved and experienced, and I want to challenge you to prove it in your experience; to make sure that you know that secret place.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll continue with this theme of security. I’ll be dealing with a question of the greatest practical importance: how can we make our dwelling in the secret place of the Lord?