The Closer You Get

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High. 

—Psalm 91

SOME SCHOLARS believe the author of this psalm is Moses. Whether or not this is so, the Holy Spirit is the true inspiration for this and every chapter of the Bible, and He has a word for us today through these verses. It’s a very timely word in this world of terror, corruption, and evil leadership—a world where political correctness stifles truth, and evil is called good and good is called evil.

There is a “woe” pronounced against these things. Isaiah 5:9 states, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil,” but we still must live in this fallen world. That’s why we need a message that we can trust in our day. It’s important that we remember what to do when times are terrible and even frightening.

But take heart! There’s a key word in our text that’s a bit of hinge upon which all that we’re going to study hangs upon, and that word is “dwell.” In Hebrew, the word means “remain, sit, abide, to have one’s abode, endure, and establish.” Another way to understand it would be to take a fixed position or to be steadfast. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (v. 10:23). This gives us an idea of what is meant when the Scripture speaks of dwelling “in the secret place of the Most High.” But there’s also an antithesis of “dwelling in” that we must recognize, because it leads to the opposite of the results, benefits, and blessings that are recorded in our verse.

In Mark, we read, “They led Jesus away to the high priest; . . . But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire” (Mark 14:53-54). Although the idea of Peter “warming” himself may have been more of a practical gesture than spiritual, much like Peter’s following Jesus at a distance, the facts are irrefutable: Peter’s decision to enter into that courtyard tragically led to his denials of knowing Jesus Christ.

Here’s the lesson for us: to follow God at a distance is never a good idea. The use of the word “dwell” in the opening phrase of this psalm of trust, and the blessings in that, is a lesson all by itself. To dwell in the secret place of the Most High is what allows the rest of the verses of this psalm to be appropriated. In a world where many believe that the blessings of God belong to us no matter how we act or behave, there’s a valuable lesson before us that will remind us of the dangers of warming ourselves at the fires of complacency, and this is why the title of the message for this psalm is “The Closer You Get.” Implied in that phrase is the idea of getting closer to God, of course. There aren’t only blessings that we will receive from that closeness, but there are other benefits, too—among them, protection!

We’ll walk through all of this for a few days, so that the difference between “following at a distance” and “walking beside” becomes clearer, and the choices that we should make will become evident as well. Even though it messes up the rhythm a little bit, we may find ourselves singing, “I have decided to follow [close to] Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”

Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.

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BARRY STAGNER

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