Title: “When you rest, God performs His best.”
What is your immediate reaction to trouble?
- Get on google and find a solution
- Get your keys and fix it
- Cuss out your husband, kids, McDonald’s worker, etc. until you feel better
- Sit down and do nothing
If you said A…B…C…I would have chosen C too…don’t worry. How many chose ‘D’? This blog is proof that ‘D’ is God’s answer for us when problems arise. Our passage is Psalm 91. The 91st Psalm has 16 verses that contain imagery of going to battle but begins with an emphasis on sitting. Let’s read Psalm 91:1 in the NIV first: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Now, I am going to read it to you in the Message version: “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow.” Finally, let’s read the same verse in the Common English Bible: “Living in the Most High’s shelter, camping in the Almighty’s shade…” All 3 translations capture the meaning of “dwell”. In the Hebrew Qal form, “dwell” is yashab which means to “sit down, remain, dwell, have one’s abode.” “Dwell” in English has two definitions: 1) A place where you live and 2) something you think and speak. That’s interesting because verse 2 says this in the NIV…read it with me…”I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ “ The place where I sit is also a place where I think and ponder. A place where I will speak after I have pondered. This blog title is “When you rest, God performs His best.” When you quit, God takes over, When you do nothing, He can do everything.
Let’s read the next 14 verses of Psalms 91 together.
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 eye 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.”
Psalm 91:1-16 is a pep talk before battle. The priest would give this “oracle” prior to a battle according to the Tyndale commentary on Psalms. The Psalm has language that alludes to a “plague” or “pestilence” at night and “arrows” of warfare by day. Tyndale continues that the passage identifies there is a disease in the camp by night and warfare by day. Apparently, there is affliction in their tent and on the battleground. There was a battle happening “all the time”. There was no escape from the torment, no rest from the enemy. Constant besiege from inside and outside the camp. Anyone feel like that today? Have you felt attacked at home, at work or at life?
I know a man who has 2 kids between the ages of 14 and 10 and a wife who suffers from severe depression. She has sworn off her meds. She is confining herself to her bed most days and is unaware of her children or husband. Her past haunts her and she feels completely lost in her brokenness. This man I know struggles at work. He hates it. He hates his boss, his pay and his work. He is miserable at home and at work. So, he drinks. He gets off about 6 and he heads to the hometown bar where he is known, not judged and no one demands anything from him. His kids find dinner on their own when they get home from school and they go to their rooms to play video games, watch Tik Tok videos or lately, porn on the internet. The 14 year old girl got caught by her dad watching it and the daughter doesn’t see it being a problem. The 10 year old son got kicked off the baseball team because he didn’t have someone pick him up for a third time. Three strikes you’re off the team. Now, he just plays video games in his room and skips his homework. This family is in a battle at home, at school, at work, at the bar, at life. Disease plagues the mom. Pestilence attacks the daughter in darkness. Arrows of deception terrorize the dad. Midday plagues steal the son. Battles rage day and night. They dwell in plagues of division, deception and defilement. Their dwelling is a battleground.
Are you taking notes? It’s ok if you aren’t but if you have a piece of paper and a pencil, join me in a little exercise. Let’s pretend the page in your lap is a page in your diary or journal. It’s a private place for your thoughts. No one sees it or will see it but you and God. I don’t care about your art skills but I want you to draw this chair I have here on my page. Draw this chair on the center of your page. This family of four that I mentioned in the story is not to be judged, scolded or admonished. Because…”because of verse 14 in Psalm 91. “Because he loves me…” We are all this family. We are all susceptible to the same temptations or similar in our issues to this family. We have our own battles at home or at work or at school. I want you to look at my drawing.
Look at it on the screen or here on my paper if you are close. This is my chair and these are the day and night threats that are mentioned in Psalm 91:3,5-7. I placed them around the chair on the left, right, behind and front because these threats seem to attack from every side. Let’s look at each of them by the verses.
Psalm 91:3: Deadly pestilence and Fowler’s snare
Psalm 91: 5 Terror of night and Arrows by day
Psalm 91:6 Pestilence and Plague
Psalm 91:7 11,000 enemies
Now, I don’t want you to copy my drawing. It’s ok if you have. I want you to name the “pestilence, plague, terrors, snares and enemies” that are attacking you now. No one is looking at your paper. Put it all around your chair. What is attacking your mind, body and your family? Place it on the page around the chair. What wakes you in the middle of the night? What won’t let you rest? This Psalm does not pretend that you are not in a battle and it definitely doesn’t sugar-coat the threat. COVID-19 wants to destroy and divide. Porn wants my friends’ family. Depression seeks to destroy his marriage. Lies of the enemy want you to believe that alcohol is an escape, a place to belong.
Let’s read Psalm 91:1 again…”Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” What is your reaction to problems that appear out of nowhere? Are you one to sit and ponder on God’s promises, or do you try to fight? There is no judgment for this family. We all try to fight with what we know how to do. But, no matter what the trouble, God fought so we could choose answer ‘D’. Not only did God fight, but His son won. We sit because He won.
But, this family seems to be in an impossible battle. He needs to come home and pay attention to his children. She needs to start being a mother. The kids need some discipline and someone needs to pick that kid up from baseball, for goodness sake. That is easy to say, but this is all effort or schemes to “fix” their problems. It would only sound like judgment to them. The answer for this family is ‘D’…”sit down and do nothing.” That seems futile and lazy now that you know how bad things are with the family, but they think they are fixing it. Laying in bed, drinking until midnight, playing video games, indulging in wants all “fixes” it. How could sitting down and reading 16 verses of a Psalm possibly make a dent in this family’s problems?
You can’t sit down and rest in Jesus’ accomplishment at the cross until you know why sitting works. This chair on this stage represents the Almighty, the Most High. It is His presence. It is Jesus! Let’s skip to Psalm 91:10 together, “no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” This tent makes me think of an army camp where all are camping together at night awaiting instruction for tomorrow’s battle. This chair is your “tent”. It is the place where you rest and dwell before and after a battle. It is the place where you battle for your emotional and mental health. Read Psalm 91:4: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” See the words “cover, refuge, shield, rampart.” These words form an image of a tent. Let me draw what I mean.
(Start drawing a tent with a roof of feathers and walls of faithfulness.) See this drawing. The “feathers” fold to make a roof and the “ramparts” are walls of faithfulness. I believe the writer was intentional about the imagery. The place where they dwelled, where the sickness stalked in darkness, was a place of God’s refuge and faithfulness. The substance of this tent is the assurance of faith and the coverage of His refuge. It is HIS feathers. HIS coverage. HIS faithfulness! You dwell in HIM. You already dwell or sit in Christ.
Ephesians 2:6 says this, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” You are seated even when you choose A, B or C and not D. You are seated when you are striving and scheming. You are seated when you are at the bar instead of with your family. You are seated even when you think you are broken beyond repair.
“If you look at the entirety of Psalm 91, you see verses 2 and 9 repeat. They both provide the foundation for the salvation described in verse 16, “With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” It is in the sitting that we are saved. Remember, “When we are at rest, God performs His best.” This sitting is also a place where we can think clearly and meditate on what will save us. This is when we have the strength to speak His faithfulness with hope that comes from being in Christ. Point #1 is this…When trouble comes, sit down and speak.” When trouble is everywhere and the battle is unrelenting outside and inside the home, Jesus is everywhere and unrelenting. Jesus is “all in all”…”all the time”. You can sit down because you know you are not sitting and being lazy. You are already seated with Christ according to Ephesians 2:6. You are sitting in His ultimate strength to do what you could never do on your own. But, you aren’t silent in your sitting. Psalm 91:2 says, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Verse 9 repeats, “If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling,” You can speak because you know what power is fighting for you. You took the moment to sit before you schemed.
Let’s turn to Hebrews 4:7…”Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Don’t look at your notes and “harden your heart”. Enter into His “rest”. His way of doing things. Hebrews 4:10-11 says this, “for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Are choices A, B and C disobedient choices? It is disobedient because it is you thinking that your schemes will fix the problem when only your sitting assures your salvation. God is at his best when you are at rest. The only “labor” that works is a “labor to enter into His rest.” Ephesians 2:6 confirms you are already seated with Christ. Forgetting your position is why you chose to fight instead of allowing God to cover and save. Knowing that you’re seated keeps you from getting up to fight. Look at Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” The word of God speaks. Who is the word? John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The word was God and is God. See a theme? You are seated in Christ. The Word of God is Jesus, the Word made flesh. You speak the living Word in verses 2 and 9 of Psalm 91. “He is my refuge, my God in whom I will trust.” The words are confident and sure because it’s the Word speaking the Word. You are seated in Christ and the Word made flesh speaks your salvation.
Every soldier knows that you don’t go to battle without the proper armor, weapons and gear. Armies must “suit up” before battle. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” If you read all of Ephesians 6:10-18, you see a pattern between Psalm 91’s inclusion of armor like truth, faithfulness, and salvation. Psalm 91 and Ephesians 6 include the same suit of armor. This is our second point…When trouble comes, suit up. In Psalm 91:4, it says “his faithfulness is a shield”, while Ephesians 6:16 says that we are to “take up the shield of faith”. Psalm 91:4 in the King James says that “truth” is our “shield” and “buckler”. Ephesians 6:14 tells us that we are to “buckle” the “belt of truth”. Ephesians 6:15 says that our feet are fitted with peace and Psalm 91:12 confirms you won’t dash your foot against a stone because of the angel’s guidance. Both books speak of arrows where Ephesians 6:16 describes “flaming arrows” and Psalm 91:5 details that they “fly by day”. The “salvation” in Psalm 91:16 is the same as the “helmet of salvation” in Ephesians 6:17. This armor is not armor that is made of metal and consists of the latest technology. It is an armor of spirit. It is an armor that seems foolish to the world but mighty to God. The “devil’s schemes” are not “flesh and blood” according to Ephesians 6:11-12. The battle you wrote on your notes is not “flesh and blood” either. They are the devil’s schemes that can’t be fought by your scheme. They can only be fought with God’s plan of salvation, the gift of His son Jesus. Not only will you survive the battle or battles you are in right now, but you will dominate. You will “tread” and “trample” according to Psalm 91:13.
Let’s recap: “You are seated with Christ.”
“You speak Christ.”
“You are ‘suited-up’ in Christ.
“You wear his…
“…belt of truth.”
“…shield of faith”
“…shoes of peace.”
“…helmet of salvation.”
Psalm 91:9 confirms that I speak and sit in Christ. Don’t forget Hebrews 4:12 that says the Word is a quick, two-edged sword that divides soul and spirit. The Spirit sits while the soul wants to scheme. Remember the dad who drinks to escape? The Word can begin to detangle that lie. The mom can rise out of bed knowing that her refuge is not the covers of the bed but the feathers of His wings. When Christ speaks from your place of rest, the Word goes to work on your behalf. The Word fights the battles of estranged, undisciplined children. The Word battles the brokenness from the mom’s past. The Word tramples on alcoholism like it was never an issue. The Word saves, delivers and restores.
Jesus proves the power of the Word in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. This is the temptation of the Jesus in the wilderness. Satan actually used the words of Psalm 91:11-12 to mock Jesus. Satan tried to make Jesus prove his faith. Not only do we sometimes resort to sin to fix our problems, but we think we need to prove our faithfulness by speaking. This effort to prove yourself is also disobedience and effort that schemes to earn God’s salvation. Jesus responded to Satan with the words from Deuteronomy 6:16. He used the Word to fight the “devil’s schemes”. Jesus knew that it was not “flesh and blood” that would win but the power of the Word that wins. Do you feel stupid sitting in a chair praying for your trouble when culture and norms tell you to go and fight? How could an “invisible” being fight alcoholism, pornography, suicide and absentee parenting with truth, faith and spirit? Is the devil mocking your posture of faith? Is he wanting you to prove your salvation? No one is saying that researching google, making a phone call or sending an email is not going to help. But, it cannot be where your faith lies. Is it in your effort or scheme, or is it in your sitting? You will send an email or make a phone call, but it will be a response and not a reaction to what rest tells you to do. No one wants you to sit and do nothing while Satan kicks your tail. But, the Lord wants to take over and he can’t do that until you stop fighting, sit, speak and suit up. God is at his best when you are at rest. Did Jesus give in to the taunt? Nope. You are in Christ and the Word will speak and shut down the enemy’s test. The devil wants you to believe that you should “fight your battles” but this is a scheme. Do not scheme with the schemer. Allow Christ to speak through you from a place of rest. Psalm 91:9 could be said, “Because the Lord is your refuge and your dwelling, I will speak and not fight.” I labor to a place of rest in Christ’s full armor. This armor is composed of truth, faith, peace, salvation and spirit. This armor is found only when resting. Fighting causes strife, hopelessness, and lies. The only thing that works is His faithfulness when your effort fails.
Once we are suited-up, it is time to step against your trouble and see the salvation of the Lord. The third point is when trouble comes, step and see. Wait, you just told me for the last 30 minutes to sit and now you want me to step? 2 Chronicles 20 answers this question. Go to 2 Chronicles chapter 20 verse 9, “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.”4 Let’s look at this in light of Psalm 91:3-7. There is significant calamity described in our drawings…pestilence, plague and terrors. Yet, the “sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17 is speaking through King Jehosaphat, “we will cry”, “We will hear” and “you will save us.” This appears to be the entire chapter of Psalm 91. The Spirit of the Lord comes on the servant Jahaziel and speaks in 2 Chronicles 20:14-17 and says things like “For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” and “You will not have to fight this battle.” or my favorite “see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” This is the same promise in Psalm 91:8, “You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” The promise was spoken by the Spirit of God and confirmed in 2 Chronicles 20:23, “…they helped to destroy one another.” All Israel did was send worshippers to the frontline and they all watched their enemies slaughter each other. That is a “tread” and “trample”…a domination all at the comfort of their own seats. Verse 27 of 2 Chronicles says that they “rejoice over their enemies” and verse 30 says that “God had given [King Jehosaphat] rest on every side.” Did the Israelites fight? Nope. They worshipped and watched from the sidelines as their enemies slaughtered each other. How does worshipping rescue a marriage, end alcoholism and restore families? When you worship, you are fighting in your armor of truth, salvation, spirit and peace. When you worship, you are speaking from rest. When you worship, you are at rest. They worshipped because the promise confirmed their victory. They trusted in His shield and ramparts of faithfulness not their own devices or schemes. What wickedness stalks in darkness? Do you want to see the wicked and wickedness in your home and at work be punished before your eyes? What if they destroyed one another before your eyes? What if you had a front row seat to honor while your enemies were being destroyed? What if 1,000 fell at your left and 10,000 at your right? What if all future enemies heard of your favor and God gave you rest on every side? God performs best when you are at rest. See, after King Jehosaphat, Israel succumbed to defeat, but in Luke 4 and Matthew 4, Jesus secured and sustained our victory with the Word as the Word. Buckle up and rest in that truth. Jesus has silenced the tempter, mocker, schemer, teaser and tormentor. He has silenced the enemy with the Word. You are at rest on every side. Psalm 91:14-16 says this, “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” This was a Psalm spoken, praised and worshipped, before a battle. It was the first thing they did before going into battle. It was a foretaste or promise of victory.
God is saying to you…I will…
You are seated in HIS rescue. Protection. Answer. Deliverance. Honor. Satisfaction. Salvation.
God is at his best when you are at rest. “Today, hear his voice. Do not harden your heart and try to solve your trouble. Sit down, speak, suit-up, step and see IN CHRIST.
Christ is your seat.
Christ is your speech.
Christ is your suit.
Christ is your step(s).
Christ is your sight.
Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Nothing is hidden. No one else may know what you wrote on that note sheet but God knows it all. He sees what you wrote and try to hide. Jesus is here with a chair saying, “Come and sit. Let me take care of it…all.” The altar is open for anyone who needs prayer. Bring your notes, your scribbles and come sit and rest. Lay it all down before him. No more effort or strive to try and “fix” what is wrong. He doesn’t need your stellar faith. Just your desire to rest in Him.
 Tremper Longman. 2014. Psalms : An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.regent.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=904842&site=ehost-live. 329.