Psalm 91 is the Psalm traditionally read by the church all over the world at the beginning of Lent. N.T. Wright imagines that Jesus, when he was tempted in the desert, memorized it “ahead of time and was already using it as a prayer, day by day, to help him through the tough test he was facing. And the devil, seeing he isn't going to succeed by a direct assault on Jesus’ senses or appetites, tries a different tack: ‘If you really believed this Psalm, then wouldn't you trust God so much that you could throw off the Temple? Doesn't it say he’ll send his angels to protect you? Perhaps you don’t believe it after all.'”
During this season of Lent when some of us deprive ourselves to help us focus on the Cross, it is easy to see how quickly we give in to our temptations. At the very least, our fasts are object lessons of our weakness as humans. If it’s so easy to sneak a chocolate let’s ask ourselves when we are under even a little pressure how easy it is to slander and lie and mistreat each other.
Psalm 91 is a song for us. It promises that under the greatest of pressures and temptations God is our refuge. His wings of mercy and grace enfold and protect us from the enemy without and the enemy within. This is where we find shelter: in the shadow of his wings. Let's say and sing Psalm 91 to each other this season. He is our refuge.
Paul van der Bijl
Director of Worship and Music
Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago