Posted on July 17, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
I fear that some of the things I write will mislead you concerning my complete devotion to the inerrancy of the Scripture. The truth is, I’m fighting for exactly that as I write. I continue to remind you that I am writing to cause you to think. This is one of those times.
My sincere conviction is that, in our desire to be so positive about the “spiritual life”, that we try make scripture to say what we want it to say rather than let it speak for itself.
We know that certain scriptures were given to certain specific people at specific times and must be interpreted and exegeted as such. We cannot simply read a passage and allow it to say what we want it to say. We cannot apply things to ourselves which were not meant for us. This is not honest and may well do more harm that good. (Just today I was speaking with a long-term ministry friend whose brother left the faith as a young adult because he didn’t see Christians living up to what they preach. I consistently encounter this situation.)
I ask you to read the following well-known passage and simply take the words as they appear in plain English without trying to enhance/interpret them. After reading them, try putting what you read in as few words as possible. Don’t cheat. Stop and think. Then go on.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
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 observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Stop. Think. Here’s what that says to me in plain English: “God’s got me covered. I don’t have to worry. I have a long life of protection from all sorts of evil and hard times.”
But I don’t believe that!!!!! That has not been my experience. I have had many troubles. Am I not living as close to the Lord as I should be? (Of course, I’m not, but who is?) Is that the reason?
“Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards.” (Job 5:7) Does the Bible contradict itself in such a simple manner? No, many times, no. So, what then do we make of this?
According to commentators, this Psalm was probably written by Moses during the journey through the wilderness. There were political enemies, nature and diseases of the climate, sun smiting during the heat of the day, moon smiting during the damp of the night, so as to render the miraculous canopy of the cloud that hung over them in the former season, and the miraculous column of fire that cheered and purified them in the latter, equally needful and refreshing. In Egypt, they had seen so much of the plague, in addition to all which, they had to be perpetually on their guard against the insidious attacks of the savage monsters and reptiles of “that great and terrible wilderness”. The imagery of the Psalm seems to be in part drawn from that Passover Night, when the Destroying Angel passed through Egypt, while the faithful and obedient Israelites were sheltered by God.
So this was written as encouragement and a reminder of God’s protection to the people of Israel, not Christians in the 21st century. Further, if this were written for today, the blessings here promised are not for all believers, but for those who live in ultimate close fellowship with God, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High.” Try selling it to the martyrs!
This passage is total truth to those for whom it was meant and is most encouraging, but you cannot hang your hat on being protected under all circumstances and guaranteed a long life.
I love God’s Word and I don’t need it enhanced beyond its meaning to satisfy my soul.
Written By Neil Fichthorn: Rev. Neil Fichthorn is a seasoned conference and camping servant having served at Gull Lake Bible Conference, Sandy Cove Ministries as President, and an interim Executive Director at Pinebrook Bible Conference. He also served in church music for decades as a choir director and arranger. He has been Bill Welte’s mentor and friend for over 45 years.
Think About This: “One man prevents Scripture with his hand, another with his exegesis. Marcion used the knife, not the pen, massacring Scripture to suit his own material. Valentinus spared the text, since he did not invent Scriptures to suit his manner, but matter to suit the Scriptures.” -Tertullian
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I, therefore, the prisoner [a]of the Lord, [b]beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.