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Your Habitation is in the Rock ImmovableBy Steve Bishop
On November 3, Myra Adams, politico and contributor to the National Review, announced that the day after the election would be a national day of mourning. She writes:
“Now, as when Jesus wept over Jerusalem, knowing the city would eventually be destroyed by the Romans, millions of Americans will be weeping in their hearts knowing that our new long national nightmare is only just beginning.” Myra Adams, Thursday November 3, 2016, National Review
Her particular viewpoint was directed at a Clinton presidency, but when I read this quote out of context I thought that it could be true for either side if they lost. What appears to Ms. Adams as an eschatological moment not unlike the Roman destruction of Jerusalem feels correct when judged on a purely visceral level. So much energy expended over such a long time undoubtedly leaves the vanquished and the victor exhausted. And like the overthrow of Jerusalem, makes mortal enemies of the combatants.
Adams weaves together biblical imagery with political history by reprising Gerald Ford’s comment when Richard Nixon left office that ‘our long national nightmare’ had ended. She not so subtly equates Nixon with Clinton and the White House with Jerusalem. She juxtaposes the crook and the cross; the fallen star and the city set on a hill. She appears to assume that an election can only result in one of two realities: the darkness of destruction or the iridescent light of the morning sun.
Although many are elated at the election results, many are deeply saddened and afraid. Whether you are weeping or rejoicing Psalm 91 redirects our attention to an eternal truth and uses imagery grounded in the immovable firmness of a mountain, to the protective wings of Shaddai, and the careful ministration of God’s angels.
This psalm of trust is a stopping place as we survey the reactions this election has engendered. The language of this psalm lifts our vision from the plains of our entanglements and preoccupations, from anxiety, fear, and the too easy absorption into the ravings and alarms of this time and invites us to a mountain hideaway free from the tremors of anticipated doom or the siren song of utopia.
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *
abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
The language of this psalm emphasizes that our life in God is not a brief visit but a constant living in God’s presence. The semantic range of ‘dwells’ and ‘abides’ suggests an inhabitant and not a sojourner.
3 He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter *
and from the deadly pestilence.
Like the creatures of God who are hunted on the mountain, we are protected in the stronghold of God. Not even the violent winds (better translation than ‘deadly pestilence’) of the mountain, capable of literally knocking us off the face of the mountain, can harm us because we are sheltered in the fortress of God.
4 He shall cover you with his pinions,
and you shall find refuge under his wings; *
his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.
Nesting on the mountain, let yourself feel the protection of a parent bird who gathers its young under its wing to safeguard them from the slashing winds and rains common on the mountain.
9 Because you have made the LORD your refuge, *
and the Most High your habitation,
10 There shall no evil happen to you, *
neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.
And now we are back at the beginning of the psalm. The Lord is our shelter, our dwelling place. We can trust that Shaddai will keep us drawn near under His wing and be our comfort when danger is all around.
Whether you feel victorious or defeated, I say ‘go rest in that mountain that is Shaddai’. When it seems all is lost, nestle yourself under the wing that desires and offers comfort in the midst of fear and threat. Affirm that your habitation is in the rock immovable. Do this today until your heart is strengthened and your soul is nourished.
How do you find comfort in God’s protection in the face of danger?
How can you share God’s promise with those with whom you disagree?
Dr. Steve Bishop is the Associate Professor of Old Testament at Seminary of the Southwest. Steve served as an ordained minister in the Church of Christ prior to undertaking graduate studies. Steve’s academic interests include the poetry of the Hebrew Bible and literary translations of it into English.
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