Someone to Watch Over Me

Sunday March 6, 2022, The First Sunday of Lent (Cycle C)

The tie in between today’s readings: Psalm 91

Psalm 91:1-2; 10-15Deuteronomy 26:4-10Romans 10_8-13Luke 4:1-13

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress. My God, in whom I trust!” (Psalm 91:1-2).  We, as God’s children, are strangers and pilgrims in a world of guaranteed troubles. It is a great comfort to know that God has a place for us. This place is symbolized by the innermost part of the temple: the Holy of Holies. It is a spiritual abode far away from the maddening crowd, a place of worship and communion, a very immediate help in a time of need. Our Father’s shelter can be a refuge: a hidden safe place of peace or the Almighty can be a fortress solid, strong, and ready for battle. No matter what life challenges we are facing, when it looks like the sun is going down; the One who loves us the most casts the long shadow of His presence over us. Psalm 91 proves itself as it shows up in our readings today in a historical narrative and a spiritual conflict. It gives us confidence that no matter the circumstances: He that is in us is greater than…whatever!

The verbs in Psalm 91:14-16 (protection, along, answer, rescue, deliver, show, and honor) corresponds with our reading in Deuteronomy 26:4-10, the First Fruits Ceremony.

Protection

Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. You shall answer and say before the Lord your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; but there he became a great, mighty, and populous nation.

Along

And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us and imposed hard labor on us.

Answer

Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw or affliction and our toil and our oppression.

Rescue

And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders.

Deliver

And He has brought us to this place, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Show

Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O Lord have given me.”

Honor

And you shall set it down before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God. (I will honor them who honor Me (1 Sam 2:30)).

In Luke 4:10-11, Satan quotes but misapplies: “He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,” and “On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12). Here is an allurement to presumptive sin. This is the Evil One’s effort to get Jesus to force The Father’s hand of protection into action. As he tempts the Messiah to jump off the temple, Satan is trying to twist a portion of the Our Father into the “Son’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus beats the devil by rightly comparing scripture with scripture: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Deuteronomy 6:16). Interestingly, it seems the Prince of Darkness pulled up a little quick in his scriptural references and left out the next line, which was God’s victory verse. Psalm 91:13, “You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the dragon you will trample down,” refers to the Messiah’s crushing defeat of Satan who is symbolized by the lion, the cobra, and the dragon. It is not recorded that Jesus quoted that piece of scripture to the Devil during His temptation, but it would have been such a perfect in your face comeback, I hope that He did…just thinking.

So, where can you find the dwelling place of the most High? How far do you have to go to reach Fortress Omnipotent? Can you find Him at the church down the street? Do you see Him in a sunrise? Is His address: second star on the right and straight until morning? As we read in Romans 10:8-13, He is much nearer than you think. You don’t have to look high and low for God’s inner sanctum. You just have to find “The Door”, Jesus Christ (John 10:9-11). He is as close as your heart. If you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess Jesus Christ as Lord, you will be a new child of God and a citizen in the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is the way for you to go into God’s shelter where you will be saved and safe in the everlasting arms of your Father who loves you and gave everything to make Psalm 91 real for you. Believe on His sacrifice as atonement for your sin. Welcome home.

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