Updated: Mar 5
By Erika Catiz Burt
Lectionary reading for 3/5/2022: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; John 12:27-36
Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 91: 1-2; 9-16, The New King James Version (NKJV)
Psalm 91: 1-2; 9-16 (NKJV)
1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.
When I was younger, I had a favorite painting hanging on my bedroom wall right across from my bed. The painting had me mesmerized, not only by the vibrant colors but because of the depiction of a majestic angel hovering over two small children, a boy and a girl, as they journeyed down a trail. Staring at this painting, I would recall the times my brother and I would walk to the store, hang out at the park, go on bike rides with our friends, or do just about anything without a care in the world or without being aware that we were surrounded by angelic protection appointed to us by our loving God. Now when I think about the painting it reminds me of Psalm 91 not only because of the assurance that God gives angels charge over us to keep us, but also because God shows Himself as our ultimate Protector.
In our present context of Covid 19, increased sickness, violence, racial and systemic oppression, emotional pain, family concerns, school, and peer pressures (and the list goes on…), there is emotional fatigue and a fear of the future that drains us perpetually. It seems that now more than ever we need to know that God has our backs! Psalm 91 verses 1 and 2 informs us that God is always present with us. He is also aware of the threats (dangers seen and under-seen) and is actively protecting those who dwell in Him. But…what does it mean to dwell in Him as a precursor to His protection?
To dwell in the Lord means that we draw our strength from God daily and habitually. It seems easier said than done unless we are in a crisis because when we are in crises, we usually cry out to God the most and pray constantly, but dwellers do more than that. Dwellers rest under God’s proverbial wing and have a lifestyle of communing with God that takes place long before crises arise. This does not mean we have to be perfect to be dwellers, nor does it mean we need to pray perfectly (since perfection is impossible), but it does mean that we remain conscious of God’s sovereignty and love as communicated through His word, in the fellowship of believers, and by God’s very presence. This understanding of God’s sovereignty and love is also what helps us to trust in God as our fortress, our shelter, and our ultimate protector from the traps of the enemy and challenges of life in general, as verses 9-16 highlights.
God not only covers us through life’s challenges and from the attacks of the wicked one, but God gives us wisdom to navigate it all and provides us angelic protection along the journey. Charles Spurgeon said it quite poignantly when preaching on Psalm 91: he said that not only do we have the angels of God dispensed for our aid, but we have the God of all the angels coming to act on our behalf no matter what the circumstances are.
Join me in praying to our Great Protecting God as we echo the prayer of composer Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
Doctor of the desperate,
Healer of everyone broken past hope, Medicine for all wounds,
Fire of love, fragrant Strength,
In You we see how God goes looking for those who are lost and reconciles those who are at odds with God. We praise You.
Light-giver, Sound of joy,
Wonder of being alive,
Hope of every person:
You are our strongest Good, Alleluia.
Take a few minutes to think about the challenges you are facing and the fact that our Great Protecting God is acting on your behalf. Now…send up praise.
About the Author
Erika C. Burt, Director of Professional and Graduate Academic Programs for Illinois Tech’s College of Computing, is a change agent with a passion for advancing educational equity and access for across technology fields. She leads large scale projects aimed at increasing the academic success rates of underserved student populations and for helping organizations become high-tech, high-touch, high-impact centers of excellence. She is a PhD leadership student with research interest in educational equity and policy creation. Erika also has a MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary & a MAT in education; she is a DEI workshop trainer and presenter and a published author with works in theological journals and magazines. Erika is from the south side of Chicago and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.