This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for November 21) is written by Don Hamilton who serves with Capital Area Christian Church in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
God Is Protector (Psalm 91:1-6, 9-16)
By Don Hamilton
I grew up in an Ozzie and Harriet kind of family. For those of you too young to remember, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson were parents in a television series that ran from 1952 to 1966. The program presented a wonderful, well-adjusted suburban family who thrived under the leadership of a good father.
My family was kind of like that. I had a really good father. One of the main characteristics Dad brought to our family was a sense of security. I grew up thinking Dad could fix anything or take care of any problem that might befall our family. Dad was wise and was always there for the family when we needed him. With my dad in leadership, all was well in the Hamilton household.
What a joy it was growing up in that kind of atmosphere. A good father provides a sense of security, discipline, and love to a household. He sets the atmosphere where every person in the family can thrive and grow into his or her potential.
In contrast to that, my wife works with young men who are going through a drug rehabilitation program. One common characteristic of these troubled teens is that very few of them have fathers who have provided a good example for them. Their fathers do not live in the same household. Many are in prison. Many are abusive to their wives and children, and most are drug addicts. These young men find no security, little love, and bad examples of fatherhood in their lives. Most will go back to the same bad habits that landed them in this unit, and most will end up in prison.
A Father’s Value
The value of a good father is beyond description. This leads us to today’s lesson. Psalm 91 tells of a Father who provides the very best atmosphere for his children. This perfect dad is God himself. Psalm 91 begins, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (v. 1).* We find rest in the places where we sense love and security. The psalmist states he has found this rest in the “secret place” of the Most High. He is describing his own trusting personal relationship with God, his heavenly Father.
Then, for the next 16 verses, the psalmist extols the virtues of living under the leadership of God. He says, “This I declare about the Lord . . .” (v. 2). Look at the list of benefits of living under the wings of God. Take a few moments and dwell upon each description. He is: my refuge, my place of safety, my rescuer, protector, shelter, armor, confidence, healer, responder, giver of my reward, and my salvation. These are the words of someone living with security and confidence no matter what life brings to them.
The Father’s Protection
The writer uses a variety of terms to describe the work of God in the lives of those who trust him. Verse 2 explains his work in military terms. He calls God “a fortress” (New International Version), Then again, in verse 4, he reveals that the Most High provides full armor and a shield. This description is similar to Paul’s explanation of wearing the full armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-20). It is likely the writer is thinking not just of the physical assaults of men, but of the demonic forces that battle against his soul. God is his defender and armor against all enemies.
In verse 4 he describes a mother hen who gathers her chicks under her feathers for protection. There is no love so fierce as that of a mother protecting her children.
The protected then encourages his readers to “make the Lord your refuge” (v. 9). He states that those who do cannot be conquered by evil.
Verse 11 reminds those protected by God that he even sends his angels to guard them. It is a comfort to know that heavenly beings guard our every step. This thought hearkens to Hebrews 1:14 which states, “Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”
The Father’s Love
The Psalm ends with God himself speaking of those whom he loves. It is encouraging to hear the words of the psalmist speak of the benefits of following God, but it is even more powerful to hear a quotation from God himself. “Because he loves me . . . I will rescue him . . . I will answer them; I will be with him in trouble” (vv. 14, 15, NIV).
It is clear that the Most High God wants his family to sense love, security, and protection. Ultimately God boldly states he will show his followers eternal salvation (deliverance).
Every person will encounter many difficulties and trials. But for those who trust in the Almighty, there is always hope and help from God himself. In this atmosphere, each of us can thrive and grow into our potential.
*Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|Nov. 15: Psalm 18:1-6|
|Nov. 16: Psalm 14|
|Nov. 17: Isaiah 25:1-5|
|Nov. 18: Proverbs 14:22-27|
|Nov. 19: Jeremiah 16:14-21|
|Nov. 20: Psalm 59:1-10|
|Nov. 21: Psalm 91:1-6, 9-16|
ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Don Hamilton serves as senior pastor with Capital Area Christian Church in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He holds a BA from Johnson Bible College, Knoxville, Tennessee; an MA from Cincinnati (Ohio) Bible Seminary; and a DMin from Northwest Graduate School of Ministry, Redmond, Washington. Don and his wife of more than 30 years, Gail, have three daughters.