Monday, January 19. Psalm 91:9-12

Our main text for this whole week is Matthew 4:1-17. Jesus has been in the desert, fasting for forty days. He’s famished. Then Satan comes after him with three temptations. The reading for today has to do with the second temptation. Satan quotes Psalm 91:9-12 as part of his second temptation. He says to Jesus, “If you really are the Son of God, then throw yourself down from this tower.” The Psalm says that God will send his angels to pick you up.” Then Jesus responds,”Don’t put the Lord to the test.”

There’s a good lesson for us here. If you take the time to read the rest of Psalm 91, it basically says this: Put your trust in God,  he’ll protect you. That’s very comforting and a wonderful promise. Here’s the big question, though. Is it a magic protection spell? Notice what Satan asks Jesus to do. He asks Jesus to willfully throw himself down from the tower; a guaranteed death dive. Is this really the kind of protection that God promises in Psalm 91?

Here’s the lesson. Don’t push it. Don’t think that just because God loves you (which is absolutely true) that you are immune from the consequences of making really dumb choices. You wouldn’t walk in front of a bus and say, “God has to protect me,” would you? That would be putting God to the test. God’s protection doesn’t work that way.

God has promised to love you and to be with you when you step out in faith to do what God has called you to do. Here’s the grim reality about following God. Most of the people in the Bible who stood up for God got hurt or even killed for it. Did God protect them then? This is especially clear today when we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. He stepped out in faith for justice and equal rights, and he was assassinated. Most of Jesus’ disciples were executed for their faith.

I know this isn’t really encouraging, at one level. But the point is to be sure that we understand what the Bible is really saying. The temptation is to seek God’s protection for selfish reasons, out of fear. That’s the opposite of what God wants for you. God’s promise is to fill you with courage and cleanse you of selfishness, so that you can stand up and help others, no matter the cost. Be strong today. Walk in the knowledge that God loves you and that God is with you always.

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