Theme: A Confirming Oracle
In this week’s lessons, we learn what it means to trust fully in God, and what the blessings are for those who do.
Scripture: Psalm 91:1-16
The last three verses of this psalm contain a confirming oracle of God in which the controlling pronoun switches from “you,” which dominated in verses 3-13, back to “I,” as in verse 2. Only here the “I” is God himself. In these verses God adds his seal to what the psalmist has been saying. God promises three things to those who trust him.
1. Protection for the one who is in danger (v. 14). The psalm speaks throughout of the many dangers that threaten God’s people, but its central message is that God will rescue and protect those who trust him from all such dangers. Those who have trusted God know this and praise God for his help and protection constantly.
2. An answer for the one who is in trouble and prays to God about it (v. 15). One of the great blessings of following hard after God is knowing that when we call upon him he will hear and answer us. These verses say that God will deliver and honor such a person. They also say that God will be with the believer “in trouble,” which is a way of acknowledging that God does not always lift a Christian out of troubles. Sometimes it is his will that we endure them and profit from them. We are told in Romans that we acquire hope, develop character and learn perseverance from what we suffer (Rom. 5:3, 4). When we go through such circumstances, God goes through them with us. He sustains us in our sufferings.
3. Long life and salvation for the one who seeks God’s satisfaction (v. 16). Long life is a blessing frequently promised to the righteous in the Old Testament (Exod. 20:12; Deut. 30:20; Ps. 21:4; 23:6; Prov. 3:2, 16), but the promise is not necessarily for a prolongation of days but rather for what we would call a complete or full life. Here there is the added promise of a “salvation” in heaven, yet to come.
I close by noting that these verses also make a point that has been developed several times already, namely, that the promises are for those who trust in or love God. Therefore, they are blessings that some believers miss out on, simply because they are always fretting and do not trust God as they should. Here the psalmist quotes God as saying that the blessings are for those who love God and acknowledge his name (v. 14), call upon him (v. 15) and seek satisfaction in what he alone can provide.
Do you do that? Or are you still trying to find satisfaction in the world? Do you love the world more than you love Jesus? John R. W. Stott reminds us of Romans 8:28, observing, “God is the supreme object of the believer’s love as well as faith, and it is to those who love God that the assurance is given that in all things God works for their good.”1
1John Stott, Favorite Psalms (Chicago: Moody, 1988), p. 82.
Who is the “I” of the final three verses? What is significant about this identification?
How will the believer be helped in trouble?
What does the promise of long life mean?
Why do not all believers enjoy the benefits of the three promises?
Application: Are you following hard after God and experiencing the blessings that come from that? Or is there something in your life that is competing with your supreme love for Jesus?
Prayer: Ask the Lord to cause your love for him to increase, and that your trust in him would grow.
For Further Study: Because Christians live in a fallen world, we also experience such things as trouble, pain, and despair. But we also know that our God goes before us, and promises to work for our good, even through the great difficulties he brings into our lives. Download and read for free the booklet by Donald Barnhouse and James Boice, “Anxiety and Depression.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)