Sermon notes: The Psalm that the Devil can quote

Introduction

While Psalm 23 (which I covered here) is definitely the most popular Psalm of all, surveys prove Psalm 91 is among the 50 favorite passages of many Christians. Hilariously, some call it the Psalm that the devil can quote, because the devil actually quoted it when he tempted Jesus.

A large number of scholars attribute the authorship of this Psalm to Moses (authorship has not been established and remains uncertain). If correct, I assume that the Psalm was inspired by the events in Moses’ life which spans through three stages. (1) Life in the Pharaoh’s residence as an Egyptian prince (2) The wilderness experience (3) The sighting of the Promise Land and death on mount Nebo. There are three life implications we can draw from this passage in the light of the life of Moses.

1. Moses’ life as an Egyptian Prince

Sexual sin was so prominent in ancient Egypt, historians say there were schools in which young men of noble families received training in the area of homosexual relationships. Homosexuality was an ever present sin in the Egyptian Palace. The Bible however says that Moses refused to indulge in the sinful pleasures of the Egyptian culture (Hebrews 11:25). Moses probably remembered how he refused to conform to the ways of this world during his life as a prince, when he penned Psalm 91:1-2 because you cannot lead a sinful life and call yourself to be abiding in the shadow of the almighty God.

These verses remind us, that God expects us to follow a lifestyle that pleases him while living in a sinful world. When we do we can say we are abiding in the shadow of the almighty God and enjoy the divine providence promised to us in the proceeding verses.

2. Moses’ wilderness experience

Even though survival techniques have evolved very much, it is said that since the year 2001 over 2,100 migrants have perished in the Soronan desert. Some call it the Devil’s highway. If you are not careful, you will die by the sting of a Rattlesnake or a Scorpion if not by the terrible heat or a poisonous plant you stepped on.

Imagine how hard life must have been for Moses as he lead the children of Israel to the Promised land through the desert, (Deuteronomy 8:15). Psalm 91:3-14 corresponds to these hardships and the Lord’s deliverance Moses experienced while he lead the Israelites out of Egypt and to the promised land.

(A) Psalm 91:3-4

Moses remembers God dividing the Red sea and creating a pathway to safety, away from the Egyptian army who came to hunt down Moses and the fellow Israelites. (Exodus 14:21)

(B) Psalm 91:5-6

In this verse Moses remembers the divine providence he encountered around the clock, when he lead the Israelites through the wilderness. We know that the Lord was always with Moses because the Bible says by the day God went ahead of him in a pillar of cloud  to guide him on his way and by night in a pillar of fire to give him light. (Exodus 13:21)

(C) Psalm 91:7-14

Moses probably remembered the way God judged Korah and his company (Numbers 26:9-10) when he wrote verses 7 and 8.

(D) Psalm 91:15

Moses remembers that God answered his prayers and delivered him miraculously (Exodus 17:4). The Lord also honored him, (Deuteronomy 34:10).

All of us have to go through our own wilderness experience at some point in life. Psalm 91 in the light of Moses’ wilderness experience shows us that the Lord will always be present in our difficult times, if we make him our refuge.

3. The death of Moses

Although Psalms 91:16 promised long life, 120 years seems too short because it was the average lifespan of a man in the time of Moses. However note that Moses’ body had not worn out with his age (Deuteronomy 34:7).

In the same verse God has promised to show his salvation to Moses. We know this final promise also saw its fulfillment because Deuteronomy 34:1-5 reads that Moses saw the Promised land from a distance. (Promised land is a symbol of Messianic salvation)

The implication here is, God will not only protect the people that fulfill the condition drawn in Psalm 91:1-2 but he will save their souls also.

Conclusion

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