INSURANCE POLICY – NO EXCLUSIONS
Pastor Vernon Giesbrecht
Modern life includes insurance policies for just about everything – our vehicles, our homes, some of our gadgets, liabilities, medical needs, and even our own lives. With many policies, perhaps most, there is a list of exclusions in the fine print – the policy will not cover “this” particular occurrence, were it to happen. Although not a very good comparison, God’s promises in His Word are like insurance policies with NO exclusions. As His child you will be covered. When reading Scripture, however, one needs to read through the lens of the genre or literary style of the passage. This is often true of the Psalms.
Psalm 91 is a case in point, and it might be helpful if you have it in front of you as we look at just a few truths from the passage. Verses 1 and 2 are the motto or umbrella statements for the rest of the psalm, the preamble if you wish.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Two things are of tremendous encouragement right at the start. (1) The promise is not based on a “maybe” or “perhaps”, but a definitive “will abide”. As we dwell – or live all of our life – under the shelter of God’s sovereign plans, we “will abide” – or rest, or find peace – under the protection of His care and goodness. The result, then, is a firm statement of trust in Almighty God as our refuge and fortress during times of distress and fear.
(2) All the pronouns used in these two verses and in the entire psalm are in the singular! He, him, my, you, your – all refer to each of us as individuals. This is personal psalm with promises made to you and me personally, and in turn, faith statements made by each of us in the assurances God makes to each of us. Michael Wilcock summarizes these opening verses: “…line 1 is what you have to do, and line 2 is what you discover when you do it. In other words, take refuge in Him, and you will find safe lodging.” What a “comprehensive insurance policy” during this health pandemic when fear and anxiety is perhaps our close companions!
Much of the remainder of the psalm is filled with “vivid pictures of perils” that can overwhelm God’s people, but it also includes the promise of protection He provides for them. Many of these pictures are metaphorical and others seem quite real – they strike close to home. All represent trials and dangers that may enter a believer’s life. Here are three of the verses.
Verse 3a pictures us a bird protected from the hunter, while 3b promises deliverance from the “deadly pestilence”. What appropriate words for the virus that has invaded our world. This description occurs again in verses 6 and 10. While we feel like we’re being hunted down by this virus, we need to pray for vigilance on our part, for protection over healthcare workers and first responders, and for comfort for those who have lost loved ones. May God soon deliver us from this scourge.
Verse 4 pictures God covering us under His wings (pinions) and His faithfulness as a shield and buckler. Derik Kidner’s comments are comforting: “As for God’s care, it combines the warm protectiveness of a parent bird with the hard, unyielding strength of armor.”
Verse 5 pictures “the arrow that flies by day” – potentially contagious sneezes and droplets that remain on surfaces we may touch. Very real for some people might be the “terror by night” – anxious thoughts, perhaps nightmares. However, if we are grounded in our trust in God, we need not fear. He is our refuge, our fortress, a firm foundation!
Two more verses (11 & 12) deserve our attention because they are quoted in the New Testament. During the temptation of Christ, the devil used these verses as he was standing with Jesus on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written: ‘For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’”. What was wrong with the devil’s reasoning? He was manipulating the words of Scripture to apply to an “artificially created crisis, not of trusting God in the situations which result from obedient service.” (D. France) We are not given carte blanche to do anything we please or dream up believing it will be covered by the insurance policy. Rather it is for those who in humility submit to God’s way and not their own. Those who surrender to His sovereign will and plan. Just as Jesus responded, we are not to put God to the test.
A final quote from Michael Wilcock which I found very helpful and reassuring. In reflecting on all the metaphors used in this psalm, he writes: “Take them in a literal sense, and any of these troubles could happen to any of us. They are representative of the things people fear. Take them metaphorically, and they stand for an even wider range of ills; they are then in effect a comprehensive list, intended to tell us that there is nothing at all God’s people need to fear. There are no exclusions in the insurance policy, hidden away in the small print.” Now you know where the title for this devotional came from. I trust you will find that there are no exclusions in the promises of God for you, even during this crisis. Reread the psalm; it’s directed to you personally.