Tony's Reflection 12 


 Last week, our Psalm used a very daring image for God - a mother hen. We saw God's nurturing side and how he shelters us under his wings.

God keeps us safe, as a mother hen protects her chicks from wind, rain and being picked off by predators.

What happens to the hen and chicks, though, when a hungry fox arrives? She stands no chance of protecting herself or her offspring against that threat. Foxes can chew through chicken wire and once the fox gets into the chicken coop, nothing is safe.

Heavier defences are needed, such as electrified chicken wire!

Our Psalm recognises that there are times when we, too, need heavier defences than feathers to hide behind.

Sometimes we can just draw close to God and all seems well with the world. There are occasions, though, when something more is needed to keep us safe. Times when you are up against something as cunning, strong and destructive as a fox in a chicken coop.

Perhaps it is that recurring fear, or panic, or bad memory which will not go away. It fades when you pray, but is as strong as ever when you come out of your “secret place”.

Maybe it is a persistent temptation. It weakens when you come close to God, but is so much stronger when you leave your place of prayer.

Possibly you have a sense of being in spiritual warfare. You are up against something or someone as crafty and predatory as any fox.

In verse four of our Psalm, there is a sudden switch of imagery from the mother hen, to some altogether heavier duty defences.
            “… his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4.)

"Shields" and "ramparts" sound somewhat quaint to us.  But when the poet wrote our Psalm, these were cutting edge technology of warfare! They were the equivalent of machine gun bunkers and tanks.

The "shield" is something that you could hide behind, but you could also use it to ward off the enemy. These shields had sharp spikes on the outside. Not only would they protect you from blows, but if you hit your enemy with your shield, the spikes would do him a nasty injury.

The "rampart" (which could also be translated “tower wall” or “large shield”) is something that wraps around you and makes you untouchable. Something like the forcefield of modern sci-fi!

Last week, we saw how God shelters us. That was something he does for us. He takes the initiative and we are grateful recipients.

This week, we are going to be a bit more active. You have to pick up a shield. If you are going to use it against your enemy, you have to hit him with it. You need to run into a “rampart”, or switch on a force field. You are doing something towards your protection.

The Psalm says it is God's “faithfulness" which is our shield and rampart. "Faithfulness" is a Bible word for God's reliability, consistency and stability. Everything about God is good and, because he is faithful, everything good about him is constant.
He will never turn you away, if you come to him humbly. You can always rely on that.

He will never forsake those who look for him and look to him. That is unchanging.

He will give you strength to conquer whatever comes against you in life. That is consistently true.
All of these are promises in the Bible. God makes them to you, who trust in him.

Now here’s the bit you do. The part where you get active. You believe in these promises.

You remember them, when you are confronting your equivalent of the fox in the chicken coop. You deliberately bring them to mind, when you come up against that persistent fear, or panic, or bad memory, temptation or difficult situation. You mull them over. You reflect on how true they are. You focus on how brilliant God is. You speak them over to yourself, in your heart and mind.

After all, if this God is with you, who or what can stand against you? He is faithful and reliable. He will never let you down.

As you know, this Psalm was originally a hymn. It was meant to be sung. Singing is a great way of rooting God’s truth deep inside us.
Our big truth this week is that God is faithful. And that faithfulness is your strength.
Why not spend a few minutes rooting that truth in you by listening to, or even singing along with,
this lovely old song, all about God’s faithfulness?[1]
Next time your “fox” comes against you, say or sing in your spirit the words of this song. “Great is thy faithfulness”. And remember God’s promises. Be strong. Recall Psalm 91:4:
            “… his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

You will win through!

[1] If you are reading this and have the internet, go to YouTube and search “Great is Thy faithfulness Chris Rice”
signed Tony