The Hiding Place
Sometimes as a Child, when my Mother or Father wanted me for some chore or some unfinished duty, I would escape to what became “my hiding place”. If there was something frightening in the air, or I had been misbehaving, again I would flee to “my hiding place.” Its good to have a hiding place in times of trouble, mine was an old abandoned and rusty car that sat in the fields behind the house. Even in winter, if it was any-way sunny, that old car was a warm place of refuge.
Although eventually I had to invent others, once that one was discovered.
The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:v114 “Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word“. He had discovered that there was a safety and security in God that he could find no where else! In Psalm 91, (the focus of my sermon today) we find an even greater picture of this Divine Security,
which I’m calling “The Hiding Place”.
And its somewhere we all may hide in dark and difficult times.
I believe that there are hard times coming for us all. Times when the freedoms we currently enjoy may be removed from us. Times when the liberty and democracy we think we have today will be undermined even more. There may well be times ahead when there will be no security and no safety but in God, under His wings.
Some of you will have heard of Corrie Ten Boom. She lived with her Sister and Father in Amsterdam, Holland. Her Father had
a clock and watch-making business and he ran that from the house, and Corrie helped him. In fact Corrie was the first licensed woman watch maker in Holland. They sold and repaired clocks. When World War 2 came along, the Nazis overran the Netherlands and occupied it. They started rounding up Jews, packing them into trains and hauling them off to concentration camps. Corrie, her sister Betsy and her Father Casper, decided to give refuge to as many Jews as they could. They hired masons to construct a secret hiding place in their house. Corries bedroom was big; so they walled off part of it, creating an extra room. A three-foot high door was made and they put shelves in front of it. Nobody entering Corries bedroom would notice another room concealed behind that built in bookcase.
Corrie and her family hid about ten Jewish people at a time. When the German soldiers inspected the house, they couldn’t find the hiding place or the people.
Psalm 91 speaks of such a place. Let’s read from verses 1&2.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust“.
The Bible tells us that we have a hiding place in the Lord. There is a secret place we can go to, to escape from the Devil. This hiding place is also a refuge and a fortress. Martin Luther liked this thought, so he composed that hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” (with which we opened our Service today) Sometimes, I need a fortress; you need a fortress, a strong castle. We need a hiding place. Why? We see it in the next verses … 3-9.
“Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth
by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation”.
There are snares, thieves, assassins, diseases and devils all around us. Due to the Fall in the garden of Eden, lethal satanic forces lurk along the paths of life. Nightmares happen. An old copy of the National Geographic featured an article on the head-hunters of Africa. It pictured a headless corpse dangling from a pole carried by two naked warriors. These two had just killed a man and lopped off his head for shrinking. Headhunting was a lifestyle. People of that region faced a constant threat of ambush from enemy tribes. They needed to leave the relative safety of their villages to hunt and gather, but every trip into the jungle ran a risk. Terror was normal there. South America had a similar problem with the tribes there. Before missionaries arrived in the jungles of Ecuador, the Indians had a brutal existence. They were so vengeful and violent, that the idea of grandparents was foreign to them. Nobody ever lived long enough to be a grandparent. It was a culture of terror.
With the resurgence of militant Islam, terror haunts many places around the globe. Suicide bombers target pilgrims, job applicants standing in line, young people eating pizza at a café, and mothers pushing their babies in buggies. When a Muslim mother announces, “I am proud that my 14-year-old son blew himself up to kill innocent people;” when any mother says
something like that we are dealing with profound evil; blood-curdling terror. The Devil leads the forces of hellish wickedness, and we never know from one day to the next what snares he is setting to capture our lives. Yet we have a God who can deliver us from the snare of the fowler. If you trust in Him, He will keep you; he may not keep you from the storm, but he will most certainly keep you in the storm.
Twice the Psalmist mentions pestilence. That was more a menace in the past than it is today. In 1666 the Bubonic Plague struck Derbyshire in England. During the plague, the people of the city voluntarily sealed off all traffic entering and exiting their city. They imposed this quarantine to contain the bubonic disease, and protect people in other cities! While tumours, vomiting, and flaming fevers depopulated the area, the quarantine stopped the plague from spreading to other districts. God will deliver you from the perilous pestilence. He will deliver you from these terrors too.
Is Jesus Christ your Friend and Saviour? If so, He protects you in many ways. Look back over your life. Have you recovered from sickness, and avoided accidents? Have you found refuge? God has been good to you in a hundred ways. Verse four says, “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.” Is the Lord your refuge in times of trouble?
Years ago in a poor village in Angola, West Africa, a wildfire got out of control during the dry season. It wiped out an entire village. After the fire, while wisps of smoke rose gently from the charred and blackened remains, a missionary walked through the place examining things and he came upon a dead Chicken lying on the ground. Without thinking he gave the bird a little kick. To his surprise, five chicks came scurrying out from under. He picked up those baby chicks and gave them to a villager. The hen had stayed on her babies and protected them even as the fire burned her to death. What a beautiful picture this is of the Lord Jesus: “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.” the Psalmist says!
In a way, Christ covered you with His feathers on the cross. The wrath of God burned upon Jesus as He hanged upon the tree. Instead of you and I suffering the pain of God’s fiery wrath, Jesus took that punishment in our stead. Instead of you and I burning in Hell, Jesus burned in agony on the cross. Do you live in a personal relationship with God? Do you rest in the shadow of the Almighty? That is the most important hiding place you can have. Are you safe in Christ at this hour?
However, there are qualifications to God’s protection of His people. Does Psalm 91 guarantee that harm will never come? No! Teaching like this from Psalm 91 means that God normally defends His children when they are in danger, and He habitually does so. But we also know that there will be occasions when God refrains from granting us deliverance.
Bad things can happen to Good people, and God finally takes us to be with Himself; then Heaven becomes our hiding place, our refuge and fortress.
One night Corrie tells us – there was a dreadful knocking and pounding at the door of Ten Boom’s house door. The Nazi soldiers burst in. Corrie, her sister Betsy, and their Father were led away. One of Corries relatives had become attracted to the “Hitler Youth” and had told the Nazis what was happening; how they were hiding Jews. The beatings began. The three were packed like cattle in the boxcar of a train and taken to the infamous Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. Exposure, starvation, slavery, torment, and dreadful atrocities all took place there. They did not escape the barbed wire, the threats, the roll calls in the snow. After ten days Corries Father died, and the yawning mass grave at the far end of the camp eventually claimed Corries sister Betsy. So the Lord may not spare you every time from terror, or pain or trouble, yet He promises, “I am with you always.” Jesus will be with you in the midst of your most dreadful experiences. You may die of some disease, or get killed in some military conflict, but you will not die because God is judging your sin. If you’ve made Jesus your Saviour, Jesus already took that judgment himself.
God protects, but not always. This is no blanket guarantee of well-being. We cannot domesticate or manipulate the Lord, even the strongest Faith, cannot alter his purposes. A family I know, recently lost their teenage son to Cancer. It was a day or two before Christmas, while the preparations for Christmas were under way, cries of bereavement filled the house. Parents, grandparents and friends were – and still are – inconsolable. No words will heal the hearts of those who weep. Yet God remains God. He is our God, and His salvation is immovable.
So let’s understand how to use Psalm 91. It should not be used as a good luck charm; rather, this Psalm is a reminder that nothing “Will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39), and “Lo, I am with you always” Which means that nothing will be able to separate our souls from Christ. Even when a terrible incident transpires, as with Corries Sister and Father, or the young boy taken by Cancer, – we have the ultimate assurance that God will not abandon us, or our children. And then God sometimes brings good out of tragedy and defeat. Corrie Ten Boom went on to become one of the finest gifts God ever gave to His Church whose testimony and writings have captured the imagination of the whole Christian world. God brought good out of their families’ catastrophe, and He can bring good out of your calamities; just trust him and hide in him.
Let’s move on to the next verses. Psalm 91:10-13.
“There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet“.
“God shall give His angels charge over you.” The work of angels is recognized here. They keep us from tripping. Verse twelve says, “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” The passage suggests that we would stub our toes and tumble more frequently if it weren’t for the assistance of angels. The angels keep us from tripping, but they also keep us from “tripping up” or making disastrous decisions that could pull us down. The work they do for us is low and humble. They bend over and help. Angelic ministry is often like that. It is similar to the work that Jesus did in washing the feet of his disciples. The angels do us many kindnesses, and never look for thanks. They do us many favours that we are unaware of. Not only should we be grateful for what God sends His angels to do for us, we should try to emulate their humble
example by stooping to do menial or serving tasks for others.
In Matthew 4, Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple by quoting this Psalm. Let’s read Matthew 4:5-7.
“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth Jesus on the pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God“.
We learn from Jesus’ temptation in the desert that Satan knows the Scriptures and even memorizes them: That’s right. However, his study is head knowledge without commitment or experience. I knew of a journalist who had a job writing articles for sporting magazines. He read up on the subject and was a gifted writer, while never actually playing any game. That is the way Satan studies Scripture. The devil can download the Scriptures, but he knows nothing of the grace and power of God’s Word, because he has blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and rebelled against his Creator. He learns the Bible, even though he hates it, so that he can twist it, and destroy our lives. Jesus rebuked Satan for misusing the Bible, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.” (Matthew 4:7).
Look now at the last verses, Psalm 91:v14-16.
“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation“.
We see here that God desires to shower His own with blessings. Upon those who trust Him with all their hearts the Lord sends protection, deliverance, longevity, and salvation. Let’s consider longevity. This is a subject that doesn’t get much attention nowadays. Verse 14 says, “With long life I will satisfy him…” The phrase suggests that it is natural to desire long life. Life is good and death is bad; long life is very good. Key passages of Scripture highlight this lesson. Proverbs 3:1 says, “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.” The Fifth Commandment says, “Honour thy father and mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Ex. 20:12).
The tendency of Christianity has been to produce dramatic longevity. It can be justifiably argued that Christianity has been instrumental in bringing about hospitals, medical science and drugs. These have helped us enjoy longer lives. But more than any other factor, Godliness leads to a long life expectancy. Obedience to God’s Word affects our personal health. Spiritual health leads to Physical health. Things like moderation in eating and drinking, redeeming the time, thrift, industry, hard work, freedom from addictions, calmness of mind, love, joy, and peace; forgivingness, … these things tend to add more years to your life: as the statisticians have proved. God says:
“With long life I will satisfy him.”
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
Psalm 91 encourages you to trust God for protection and security. The Lord is your hiding place. Under his wings you
can take refuge. Lets go back for a moment to my old rusty car “my childhood hiding place“ for it reminds me that we need protection and safety in our cars too. Some years ago, I drove my almost new car underneath an articulated lorry, which pulled straight across the road in front of me. I watched in horror as the roof, the windshield, the steering wheel and the seats bucked around me and came in on top of me.
A man who was travelling behind me and saw the whole thing, immediately called 999 on his mobile phone and ordered all 3 (Fire, Police and Ambulance) services to the spot, for he said, “there’s no-one walking away from this“? But “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Thank God I did walk away from it, without even a broken fingernail, while my car was a total wreck- a total write-off.
Don’t forget to ask God to keep your going out and your coming in, and acknowledge that those “angels” who really do take a back seat, will look after you. I know it!
In closing, may I ask you a simple question, as things are clearly deteriorating all around us where are you going to hide?
Run to Jesus’ arms today, and hide in Him.
God Bless You – Amen