Thought for the Week - 16th OctoberLloyd Hopkin
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
“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.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”
This Psalm talks about God being our fortress. Fortresses are meant to be impregnable: nothing can get in. It’s a place of battle and a place where people would fight, but it’s also a place of safety and security.
It speaks to us about attack as well as defence. It’s a place where your enemies find it more difficult to attack you, and a place where you have an advantage and more strength over your enemies.
The Psalm also talks about the “secret place”. This is somewhere that’s secret to us and God, that no one else knows about. We can hide there, and are safe there. This secret place is “of the Most High”. The “Most high” being the greatest, the most powerful God, who is above everything.
We read that those who dwell in the secret place “Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”. A shadow is a place where we’re protected from the sun and the heat. In the time and place when this Psalm was written, shadows were necessary for life itself – whether to live, rest, travel – without it there would be exhaustion, dehydration and death. God’s shadow covers us.
The Psalmist writes “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress”. He doesn’t just believe it, he declares it. There is power and a new belief within us that comes when we declare to God that He is our refuge and fortress.
In Psalm 144, David asks: “Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him? Man is like a breath;His days are like a passing shadow”. When you compare the Earth to the size of the Sun it is very small. When you compare the Sun to the size of some of the other stars that exist, it is tiny. Compared to these, we are like a speck of dust on a speck of dust. Consider how huge these things are – but the God of the Most High created all that! The Psalms say that He merely breathed and the stars were made. The God who holds those stars in His hands is the same God who made us, who loves us and who knows the very hairs on our heads.
So often we can get caught up with our worries, problems, temptations and sins that we forget that the God who is powerful enough to breathe all this into existence is the same God who protects us, and the same God who is our fortress! He is where we can, and should, go when anything comes against us.
We read “He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge”. This is a God who is very gentle with us. This is the Almighty God who created the universe and yet He protects us like a hen with her chicks.
There are many things that would torment us – fears, crosses, temptations, struggles, pains, circumstances, doubts, and discouragement. We need to go back to the fortress, He will deliver us from these things.
We read “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place No evil shall befall you”. There is something we have to do. We have to run to that fortress, go to that secret place and find Him there. We read “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him”. So often, we have two choices – staying outside the fortress, or running inside. Often we stay outside because we’re afraid about what God will do or what He will ask of us. By going into the fortress He is able to deal with that thing.
We have to learn to go back to Him and say it’s hurting, ask for His help, talk to Him. Bring everything to Him – He softens our heart and He strengthens us. This is written before Christ, but it speaks so much of Jesus. Christ is our fortress. When He died on the cross, He took our sins, our pains, our hurts and He continues to shelter us. And we are able to hide in the fortress of His love, whatever comes against us, whatever difficulty.
In these things, we can either harden towards Him or turn ourselves to Christ and He softens our heart. So often, I just turn to Him and say, “Lord, in the midst of everything, I choose to love You”. As we do that, He will deliver us. Often we don’t trust Him to be enough or to satisfy us. But It’s only as we set our love upon Him that we find how much He is able to satisfy us. And when we our struggling against sins, as we find God as our strength, we not only find victory over those sins but over time, we can find that the very thing that was our biggest weakness becomes our biggest strength! The devil becomes fearful of the Christ within us.
We read in Genesis that even in prison, God was with Joseph and gave him success in everything he did.
In CS Lewis’ The Silver Chair, Jill Pole meets Aslan. She wants to drink from a nearby stream, but she is afraid of Aslan and what he might do. She asks Aslan to promise not to do anything while she drinks. Aslan says: “I make no promises”. Jill says that she will find another stream, but Aslan replies: “There is no other stream”. That is the same for us. There is no other stream, no other fortress.
Only in God will we find the love and strength that we are seeking.