At the time of writing, the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic, a worldwide epidemic that mankind has difficulty in controlling. Thus far, 118 countries have diagnosed people with the Corona-virus COVID-19. It originated in China, and the government there has quarantined large areas of its country. The virus is being found in people in other nations who have not traveled overseas themselves. Italy is completely quarantined, with no public gatherings. Iran and South Korea are on the “do not travel” list. International conferences and sporting events have been cancelled.
Tourism is down by 70% to Australia, as many airlines have ceased flights to and from China, and Chinese university students will have to wait until May to resume their studies in Australia. And who wants to go on a cruise with the possibility of being quarantined in your cabin and not getting off the ship for weeks? All this has had a serious impact on the world’s stock exchanges worldwide, with fears of financial instability and a world-wide recession.
It is a time for Christians to meditate on the words of Psalm 91. “Live under the protection of God Most High and stay in the shadow of God All-Powerful” (verse 1, CEV). This psalm is structured with repetitions of God speaking followed by man’s response (“I will say… I will trust”). For those who prefer a more traditional translation, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (NKJV).
Previously we’ve had the Hong Kong flu (1968) which killed one million people worldwide; SARS, which spread to more than two dozen countries in 2003 before it was contained; and MERS, which like its predecessor, killed nearly a million people. Prior to that was the great influenza pandemic of 1918, when 27% of the world’s population contracted the virus and at least 17 million people died (some say up to 50 million). It reached the Pacific islands and even Arctic areas, at a time when few people traveled compared to the present. Further back in history was the Black Plague in the mid-1300s, which killed a minimum of 75 million people in Europe and the Near East, that was 30-60% of Europe’s population, and it took 200 years for the population to recover to the previous level.
Psalm 91 gives great strength and comfort to believers at this difficult time. Notice these verses from the NKJV:
(2)”I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’ (3)Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler [hunters] and from the perilous pestilence [deadly plagues].”
(5)”You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, (6)Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. (7)A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.”
(10)”No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; (11)For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”
Read the whole Psalm a few times, and read daily the verses I have quoted above. This is one powerful Psalm! Though written for Old Testament believers in God, we New Testament Christians have “a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). God is still on the throne and He still looks after His family.
Verses 1 and 2 show that we have to take action in order for the care of the Father to be effective. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High” (verse 1) is a condition, as well as “I will say of the Lord” (verse 2). “I will say” indicates an affirmation — a statement about a truth or fact. It is not spoken to make the truth or fact so, but because it is so. When you speak it out you are demonstrating that “in Him I will trust,” or as Job said, “Though he slay me yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). “You shall not be afraid” (verse 5) is yet another action you can do to indicate your trust in God.
Verse 3 onward tells how God will look after you. I have often quoted verse 7 and been criticized for my comments on it. Yet it is so personal that you could say that God’s primary purpose is to look after you! “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you” (verse 7, NKJV). “Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you” (Message Bible). What a great, big, wonderful God we have!
Read the Psalm again right now in your preferred version, and believe what you read!