The beginning of another year is a time to take stock. The turmoil gripping the world does not let up. Family and employment pressures make themselves felt. Financial storms have raged; civic unrest is found amongst the nations, terrorism leaves its ugly scar, and the hearts of men at times faint for fear. Believers are not immune from the effects of these forces and may see their hopes banished and their peace of mind attacked. If so, take heart! The Word of God, as always, is the source to which we turn.
The Psalmist, as he wrote Psalm 91, had discovered that when in need of a fortress he found it "in the secret place of the most High under the shadow of the Almighty". This "secret place", of which the world knows nothing, is where the believer can find peace and satisfaction, that which is vital in a turbulent age. To be alone with Him and also enjoy His presence and sustaining grace throughout a day is privilege indeed.
Those who dwell there enjoy the "shadow of the Almighty". This is a place where the people of God can come aside, into the shadow, quite apart from the heat and pressure of events. It is a place in which to enjoy the cool, invigorating atmosphere of His presence, calmed under the caress of heavenly breezes. Truly the "shadow of the Almighty" is a place of refreshment.
But note the One who calls us to enjoy His shadow. Four things are said of Him in the two opening verses of the Psalm. First, He is the "most High", the supreme ruler, the sovereign God, who sits high above all the storms of earth, with no circumstance beyond His control. In Genesis 14 the reader is introduced to Melchizedek, king of Salem, who was the priest of the most high God" (v.18). How remarkable that such a divine title is first found here, a chapter dealing with warfare and disturbance, reminding the reader that "the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsover he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men" (Dan 4.17). This knowledge, not possessed by most of the rulers of this world, is revealed to His own.
Second, He is also "the Almighty" so that not only is He above all powers of earth, no power can withstand Him. When God revealed Himself to Abraham as "the Almighty God" (Gen 17.1), after the period of silence that followed the birth of Ishmael, He was teaching Abraham that no scheming or planning can alter His purpose and that, despite our sin, His way will triumph.
Third, He is Jehovah, the God of the covenant, the God of grace who desires the presence and fellowship of His people. That we should desire to be with Him in His secret place is a delight to Him, far greater than we in our frailty can understand.
Fourth, the Psalmist declares that He is "my God". That He who is so great is "my God" is precious to the faithful soul. He personally cares for each of us; that is wealth beyond human measure. What more can be said of this - simply that under His shadow is a place of refuge.
The Hebrew for the AV translation "he that dwelleth" uses a verb meaning "to sit, to dwell, to inhabit, to endure, to stay. Apparently, to sit is the root idea, and other meanings are derived from this".1 For the believer this is the place to sit: it is a place of rest. There is also the thought that this need not be a temporary state, for the believer should inhabit this place in His shadow.
What a joy it would be to cultivate the habit of being in His presence, in that secret place, where we can enjoy such bounty, not just for a few minutes daily, but continually. There we will have Him as our shelter from all that is around. There He will be our fortress, preserving us from the attacks of our adversary. There we will be able to state, " in him will I trust". To trust is to be confident. It expresses the feeling of safety and security that is felt when we can rely fully on another. Our God is completely reliable. Let that be our confidence in all the days ahead in His will as we seek to dwell in the secret place, under the shadow of the Almighty.
1 Complete Word Study Dictionary