Psalm 91

Numbers 13-14

The Shelter

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1 NASB

The Tabernacle set up in the middle of the camp represents God in the midst of His people. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night represent God leading His people. With all this in place what could possibly go wrong? Apparently plenty.

In Chapter 11 we read that there were those who were complaining of adversity. It is apparent that these people were on the fringe of the camp since God sent a fire consuming some of the outskirts of the camp.  There were also those within the camp who were serving the idol of greed. (Colossians 3:5)  They were getting tired of the manna and wanted meat.  Finally, in Chapter 12, we read that within the leadership pride raised its ugly head and led Miriam and Aaron to challenge the leadership of Moses.

In all this it seems that although God is with them, the people are seeking their shelter from the world rather than the Most High. God has a plan, however, and that plan is to take the people from slavery in Egypt to the place of blessing in the Promised Land.

In Chapter 13 we read of the twelve men who were sent to spy out the Promised Land.  Indeed, the land was everything God had promised but there was a problem. The land looked like it was well defended and those defenders were giants. Ten of the men saw these as problems and became fearful. Two others saw the threats differently. In Chapter 14:8&9 we read that Joshua and Caleb said to the people, “If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it to us- a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” NASB

The Hebrew word translated “protection” here in verse 9 is the same word translated “shadow” in Psalm 91:1. The word can mean shelter from the heat of the day or the temporary, fleeting, strength and life of man. A study of the use of this word makes it clear that when man relies on himself his strength and power is like a shadow that disappears when the difficulties of life come against him. But, when one relies on the Lord even though there are difficulties ahead, God provides the strength when it is needed. What makes the difference is where one is dwelling. I find that fears abound when one “dwells” in the worries of the world. But when one dwells in the shadow of the Almighty by faith, even though the difficulties remain, we can say like the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJV

Unfortunately, the people didn’t listen to Joshua and Caleb and God did not allow them to enter into the Promised Land. This is the sad outcome of being in the right group but having the wrong focus. The shadow they trusted in disappeared in the heat of the problem.

This can be a problem in the Church as well. Christians were called Christians because they were like Christ Jesus. They were dwelling in the shelter of the Lord Jesus. It is the same today. The Church is most likely the place where a person will come to learn about Jesus and hopefully give their life to Jesus and become a Christian. But going to church does not automatically make a person a Christian. One must come with a willingness and desire to dwell in the shelter of the Most High, or in other words, with a right attitude and the goal of becoming a Christian. Please don’t get me wrong. I want to see non-believers in the Church. How will they know if they do not hear the Gospel? But there is a real danger of some people wanting to make the Church into a social club and the Pastor an activities director.

 It is important that the leadership remains in the shelter of the Most High. It is important that the Bible is being taught. It is also important that we study the Bible, and it is really important that the Bible leaves its mark on us and guides us in our walk with God in this wilderness. This can only happen if we are truly seeking the Lord and want a relationship with Him, walking by faith, trusting in His Word.  Those who are casual in these things will eventually drift away. *

May God bless and direct you as you study His Word!

Pastor Dave

*Years ago there was a Christian singles group in our area that drifted to the point that they made a rule that they would not talk about religion. They said one of these days they would get around to changing their name!