In my morning reading today mention was made of an oyster which secretes layer upon layer of a substance to cover an irritating object. Eventually a pearl results which gives us a good illustration regarding what can occur in the life of a believer. This is a topical subject in Kent as I write because the rich oyster beds on the north Kent coast have been seriously damaged by sewage pollution.

In my reading pressure was mentioned in regard to what can happen to a dirty looking piece of coal when subjected over a very long period to intense heat and pressure, a diamond can be produced.

Our nation has been suffering from much pressure due to Covid-19 and one wonders what the outcome will be, only time will tell. Like the oyster reacting to irritation and a lump of coal to intense heat, it is time which yields a result. In both cases a good result is forthcoming and can that be true regarding the pressures we experience as believers?

At some time in our lives, we will experience pressure, even young children seem to be increasingly pressurised in the realm of education and hopefully such pressure may help them to develop. Many adults are pressurised at work and even that can be stimulating so long as it does not cause undue stress.

Sadly, many are under pressure in the area of relationships and some regarding their health and it is important for us to know how to deal and cope with such difficulties.

In my morning reading it mentioned that in Psalm 91 there are twenty-five promises of God for those who cling to Him in trials. The Psalm begins with a statement regarding those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High and the promise is that they will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. They will be saved from the fowler’s snare and the deadly pestilence. The Lord will cover them with His feathers and under His wings they will find refuge. Fear of the night will be banished. Angels are promised to defend them.

So how do we cope with the thought that in this life such protection, rest and safety does not always come our way? One Pastor friend was told he was soon to be discharged from hospital after contracting covid, a few days later, he was unexpectedly taken to glory, leaving his wife and family in deep grief. Psalm 91 does not always seem to make sense in our era.

However, is this Psalm relevant to conditions present at the time of writing, is it set in a time of a threatening plague? Could it have been written by Moses during the times of the plagues that befell Egypt? The Israelites did dwell under the shelter of the Almighty. But the Israelites did not have an abiding place. Was the Psalm written just before things were going to change for the better as Canaan lay ahead?

Just as I write my phone rang and a friend who is a Bible expositor was calling and I was struggling with what I was writing, feeling I was letting the side down in my interpretation. His call was so timely and we found agreement together regarding the possible context and setting of Psalm 91. What a relief!

The Psalms, like all other passages of scripture must be considered in the context and setting, considering who wrote them, to whom they were written, when they were written and why they were written. A theologian helped me by likening scripture to getting a crossed line on a telephone. One can hear two voices but they only make sense if we know who is calling who and what about. The same is true of scripture.

Whilst Psalm 91 might not seem to always be true of our own lives, we can learn principles from it and see the benefits of dwelling under the shelter of God, resting in the shadow of the Almighty and seeking to fulfil the conditions attaching to God’s promises with the help of the Holy Spirit and the means of grace, prayer, Bible reading, fellowship with other believers and anything which draws us nearer to God.

“Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you!”