Was how many Gentiles describe the Jewish nation in ancient times. The Jews were notorious for their contempt and lack of dealings with Non-Jews except for strictly commercial and financial reasons.
We have an instance of this attitude in Acts 22: 17-23
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,”
Hitherto the Jewish crowd had listened to Paul’s defense in silence. When the Apostle mentioned his appointed mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles the mob went wild.
It seems that although the Jewish religious leaders had no use or desire for the salvation of Jesus Christ themselves they still resented the idea that it should be freely proclaimed to the Gentile World at large.
They would not partake of the food set before them and yet would not spare a crumb for the Heathen nations dwelling in darkness.
Lest we unsparingly condemn these people, we must beware that there is nothing of this attitude in ourselves. We must guard ourselves from looking at some people as so far “beyond the pale” that they are not worth preaching the gospel of salvation to.
Jesus, when He saw the multitudes coming to Him had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. In such a way we should look at the sin be-nighted people we meet each day.
The Saint’s Refuge!
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
We have here the description of the person seeking protection and the identity of the One who protects. These are very concrete terms for something very intangible.
We can see and feel bricks, concrete or solid rock. We can vividly imagine mountain strongholds and other means of halting approaching enemies.
I fear we may all have a harder time in expressing like faith in our God as our fortress and defender.
Even when in the past, we have found God to be “a very present help in time of trouble” and a refuge from the assailing storm, we still doubt His ability and willingness to do so again in the present crisis.
Maybe it not actually the reality of God’s protection that is at stake but rather the fact of our abiding that is in question.
If we are seeking and putting our trust in other means of protection it is no wonder we are feeling exposed and vulnerable.
The non Christian indeed has hiding places he or she resorts to: unfortunately they will find at last that they are unavailing and futile.
If they do by chance resort to God it is coming to someone they know nothing of and have no relationship with.
It is only by believing in Christ and His saving work and taking God at His Word in the protection of His people that we can come into the hope and faith seen here in the Psalmist’s words.
“3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his opinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.” Psalm 91:3-6
The attacks we face are of various kinds, they are not always frontal assaults.
It could be the snare of a crafty enemy cunningly laid for us to fall into. It could be the virulent disease of false doctrine or moral laxity and compromise. The attack could come from any direction and at any time. Whether in the daytime of prosperity or the mid-night of moral, spiritual or doctrinal decline, God is as the mother hens protecting wings and sturdy shield.
No darkness, no stealth or cunning can prevail to thwart God’s perpetual keeping of His people at all times of peril.
‘7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.” Psalm 91:7-8
What a contrast is the fate and experience of the wicked?
No shift or dodge, No mere carnal defense will prevent their fall and avoid the just consequence of their rejection of God. They will be a visible object lesson of the results of rejecting freely offered mercy through Jesus Christ.
9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge —
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
Our choices in life have inevitable consequences even as Christians. By imitating the world’s attitudes and values we can fall into the habit of trusting in deceitful riches and carnal means of security.
God’s promises are truer than any insurance policy and our casting ourselves upon Him and His faithfulness are sure means of protection.
Despite the trials, tribulations and diseases that befall the Christian in common with others, the promise of verse 10 is still an absolute one, inasmuch as not only are we spared many of these ills by God’s grace, we also find the evil that happens to us transformed into lasting good and the plague that touches us is turned into Spiritual health.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
We have here the great mystery of the Angelic protection of the believer.
Satan used this verse to tempt Jesus into a presumptuous action to demonstrate His divine son ship which He totally rejected but it does not detract from the truth that the angels are ministering to and protecting God’s people in ways we know little of.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91 E.S.V.
These wondrous Old Testament promises hold true for the New Testament believer.
God had promised Moses and the children of Israel that He would send an Angel ahead of them to pave their way into the Promised Land. Yet Moses realized that no angelic being could substitute for the presence of God Himself.
Verses 14 to 16 show us that our security and protection is directly in the hands of God our Father.
While we are not promised freedom from ill we are promised ultimate deliverance and triumph.
Though we may indeed appear to be in peril and suffer in common with others, the difference is we will never fail or fall finally or fully through our being “kept by the power of God unto Salvation”.
The Day of our deliverance is at hand and our Saviour is ever near.
“Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:18
Faith finds its luster in action — and not just in notion. It enters our hearts — and not just our heads. (Samuel Ward)1577-1640.