“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge” (Psalm 91:4)

TENDER INTIMACY IN PSALM 91

This photograph of a greylag goose sheltering her chicks, under her ever-watchful eye, is a beautiful metaphor for the tender care that God extends to His children.  It is also a portrait of loving trust and intimacy.

The theme of the gentle yet powerful protection of God is clearly communicated right from the beginning of Psalm 91:

“He [or she] who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.’” (verses 1-2)

What is the “secret place of the Most High”?  It is a state of faith in all that God is, and in all that He has done for us in Jesus Christ.  It is the place which enfolds us in the love of God – the perfect love that casts out every fear (1 John 4:18).

The secret place is a tender call to intimacy with God. He wants us to look so deeply into the mirror of His love (that is, His Word) that we find ourselves drawn into His very heart and into the experience of divine Life Itself.  For He is our very Life.  Because of Calvary and the resurrection of Jesus, our life is indeed now hid with Christ in God, and – wondrously – we now carry within us the ultimate treasure of the Father, which is “Christ in you” (Col. 1:27).

The heart of Jesus was so set upon our understanding the depth and breadth of God’s love towards us that, in the gospel of John, it was the very last subject that He addressed before His torment in Gethsemane. Twice, in the same passage (John 17:23-26), Jesus effectively declared that the Father loves all believers with the same quality of love – and to the same degree – that He loves His only begotten Son.

That in itself is utterly staggering, isn’t it!  If we are ever tempted to doubt God’s loving purposes for us, these are very powerful verses to meditate upon to make our own, and to share with others.

The tender love of Jesus is portrayed in His familiar cry over Jerusalem: “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,” (Luke 13:34).  And the Song of Solomon expresses the love between Christ and ourselves, His bride, in deeply stirring words: “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”; and “His banner over me was love” (6:3 & 2:4).

In the book of Jude we are urged to do something practical, which is to “keep ourselves in the love of God”.  Most importantly, Jesus Himself specifically instructs us to “remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you]” (John 15: Amplified version).

Jesus therefore highlights the vital importance of reminding ourselves, over and over again, of the quality of love that constantly pours out from God into our lives.  God’s love is always active towards us, but we, in turn, are called to be proactive in keeping open the channel of His love, so that fear remains cast out, and so that we can live and walk peacefully, with our confidence in Christ, loving and serving others.

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Ann Shakespeare

Welcome to the Ann Shakespeare blog. Ann, a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, BBC World Service and The Daily Journal, is currently involved in editing and writing on Christian themes. She also ministers in a local ecumenical centre which provides prayer and pastoral support.

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