The Plague Psalm & Easter Hope
There have been many plagues during the past seven thousand years of recorded history. The Bible mentions them nearly 100 times and their effect upon both individuals and nations (e.g. Deuteronomy 28:59, Hosea 13:14, and Revelation 16:9, 18:4).
One person even wrote a song about it (Psalm 91).
More songs have been written about Jesus Christ and his resurrection than any other subject in history. This Sunday billions of people will celebrate His victory over death–even while a plague stalks the planet.
Here’s some encouragement from the Plague Psalm and Easter hope.
The Plague Psalm and Easter Hope
Let’s set the stage with some Covid 19 perspective.
The current pandemic is unique to history because air travel allows a deadly virus to infect major portions of the planet quickly–in hours and days–as passengers travel internationally. It’s estimated that 430,000 people traveled from China into the U.S. after the virus surfaced before President Trump imposed travel restrictions January 31.
That’s a lot of highly contagious germs to infect 330 million residents (we have the third largest national population after China and India).
Our global news cycle also increases the panic and hysteria over the disease. It’s a helpful tool for preventative measures and information but an ominous cause for fear and possible manipulation of the masses. (Sometimes ignorance is bliss.)
During the recent lock-down, I have found myself listening to uplifting music and singing more than usual to strengthen my spirit while doing spiritual warfare in the heavenly realms where demonic forces use events on earth for their evil purposes.
We must not let the demons paralyze us–but conquer their temptations with greater expressions of prayer and praise.
Yes, we should exercise strict self-government with proper hygiene, social distancing (a term I’d never heard of until recently), and other preventive measures. Federal, state and local governments are using their power to keep people safe and help with the economic fall-out of job loss and shrinking stock portfolios.
The private sector is unleashing new medicines, re-directing factories to provide medical equipment and supplies, and will eventually create a vaccine to stop this disease in its tracks.
But nothing beats the human rush for solutions more than personal protection from God.
I’ve been reading the Bible from cover-to-cover annually since 1972. Each year I choose a different translation to appreciate different phrases and nuances of God’s revelation. This year I’m doing my daily devotions in Eugene Peterson’s The Message.
Psalm 91 has become a favorite during this time of isolation. Please meditate on its riches below and then allow me a little commentary.
There are important reasons why the Psalms (Songs) is the biggest book in the Bible and placed right in the dead center of it.
We need to worship and sing–to keep our eyes on God.
1 – “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
2 – Say this: ‘God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!’
3 – That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards (pestilence).
4 – His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.
5 – Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day,
6 – not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster (plague) that erupts at high noon.
7 – Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you.
8 – You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses.
9 – Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home,
10 – Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door.
11 – He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go.
12 – If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling.
13 – You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
14 – ‘If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,’ says God, ‘I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me.’
15 – Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
16 – I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!'”
Verse 1 tells us to “shelter in God’s presence” and “rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (El Shaddai). Are you practicing His presence during the quarantine? Are your walks and talks filled with a sense of His serenity and protection–the ultimate source of peace?
Verses 3-6 mention the array of problems we face on our hostile planet. They include accidents, pestilence (bugs), war, and disease (plagues). We face them all from time to time.
I’ve raised chickens for over twenty years (partly to be ready for hard times) and love to watch the doting and protective hens. Verse 4 tells us that God is our Mother Hen–and we’re safe under his wings. Are you cozy in his care or wandering outside His will where there’s danger?
Verses 5-10 explain that we should never be afraid–that God will powerfully protect us. Always? Will no believers die from the coronavirus?
No, they will. This is a general truth–not an absolute. It’s much like the book of Proverbs which contrasts the blessings of righteous (faithful) people with that of bad folks. In general, living a godly life will bring blessings, honor and life–but not always. In the same way, trusting God during difficult seasons–praying to him and resting in his care–will generally bring extra grace and power to your life.
God-centered living might even bring some miracles–through guardian angels. They weren’t made up by Disney or Hallmark. Psalm 91 tells us that God uses angels to protect us from harm–probably numerous times in our lives.
What a comfort.
In Dr. Corinthia Boone’s autobiography that I ghost-wrote this summer, she shares a remarkable childhood story:
“When I was ten…I hopped on my bike for a ride. After circling the yard, I decided to cross the highway. I did not look carefully.”
“Suddenly, my bike soared into the air while I held on for dear life! I saw the shadow of a car beneath me. In a split second I landed safely on the other side of the road. I froze where I was, looked around and saw my parents and neighbors staring at me in shock. They saw me ride right in front of the car and had expected me to crash.”
“Instead, the Lord delivered me safely to the other side. I told my parents what I saw–that somehow, I was ‘lifted’ over the car. My parents were greatly relieved, but I got a good talking to about looking both ways before crossing the street.”
Mother Hen God and his “messengers” are always at work.
This wonderful psalm-song ends with God promising to keep us from trouble (verse 14) if “we get to know and trust him.” We are to “call” (pray) and he will “answer” (verse 15). He will “rescue” us and even throw us a victory party.
That sure beats quarantine.
The keys are friendship with Him, singing his praises and knowing that eternal hope is found in a “salvation” relationship (verse 16) with Jesus Christ.
The writer of the Plague Psalm knew the true antidote for all maladies–faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13). This Easter we celebrate that Jesus Christ paid for our sins and became the first person to come back to life and never die again–thus proving his divinity.
You won’t perish either and live in great hope if you believe in Him (John 3:16) and keep singing his praises.
Including the Plague Psalm.
Hallelujah and Happy Easter.
Thank you, Ron, for pastoring us once again. These are truly times to “snuggle down” into the peace of God’s presence. But also a time to “sing out“ the hope of the Resurrection! As we prepare to stream our little neighborhood Sunrise Service online to more people than would have ever come to our local park (as churches are widely experiencing), it occurred to me: More people may gather for online Easter services this year than have ever gathered in history! And just think of the response for those who are feeling the need for God’s protection, when the gospel is clearly preached! Let’s pray for a powerful and massive return of people for salvation and submission to Almighty God!
Thank you Ron, for your faith-full writing and continued discipleship of your readers.
As noted in verse 2. Yes God, “You are my refuge. I trust in You and I am safe.”
Rejoice, for He has risen just as He said!
Peace+ to you and family