2022 Lenten Devotional - Debbie Widerkehr on Psalm 91
Assurance of God’s Protection
1 You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, 2 will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” 3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; 4 he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, 6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, 10 no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
14 Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. 15 When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. 16 With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.
I'm drawn to this Psalm, probably because the times are very troubling: the invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic to name two. I have friends and family who are struggling with serious health issues and others with the loss of loved ones. The Psalmist gives us a very comforting image of God as a mother hen, folding us under her wing and protecting us. That is what I want for my friends and family, myself, and for the people of Ukraine.
The Psalmist says "He will call on me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." God wants us to call on him, to be in relationship, to "dwell in the shelter of the Most High." It's not just about God protecting us; we need to reach out to God.
We know that we aren't promised that there will be no trouble in our lives. We can cause our own trouble, too, sad to say. Satan quotes this Psalm in the Gospel reading for today, tempting Jesus to throw himself off the temple spire so that the angels would save him, as a demonstration of God's power. That isn't what the Psalmist had in mind for us or Jesus, and Jesus resisted Satan's temptation. Jesus didn't need or want to prove God's power this way.
The promise is that God will always be present with us and protect us even as we struggle. May we rest in that presence, be always aware of it and call on God when we're feeling overwhelmed. I pray also that we would have the strength to offer a share of God's love and protection to each other as a community of faith, and offer that love to the world beyond.
-- Debbie Widerkehr
Holy One, who comforts us like a mother hen,
our God, in whom we trust—
as we begin our Lenten journey,
sustain us with your presence.
Through whatever tests and trials we face,
no matter the trouble we weather, we know we weather it with you.
Inspire our minds and guide our bodies, Lord.
May we call on your name and rely on your power
to strengthen and inspire us
for the sake of wholeness for all.
With reverence and delight we pray. Amen.