Readings: 1 Samuel 17:40-51; 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Matthew 4:1-11
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Too many of our modern translations of the Psalms want to comfort us by making them about us. But that misses the point. It misses the interconnections of God’s Word when we filter everything through the lense of “me”. Because it’s not about you. It is always about Jesus. What did He say about all of the Old Testament Scriptures? They are entirely about Him (John 5:39; Luke 24:37). Luther summarized Jesus’ saying that all of Scripture is a cradle for Jesus. Sometimes Lutherans are accused of shoving Jesus in every nook and cranny of the Bible, whether He belongs there or not. But I assure you, He belongs there!
This place of refuge is so safe, it is such a sanctuary from evil, that the Most High commands His angels concerning it so that the tent of Our Lord’s body will never even stub His toe, for He will be lifted up by the holy angels whom the Most High has commanded to guard this refuge for all the world day and night.
This refuge carries you in safety throughout your pilgrimage here below. He can tread upon poisonous snakes and lions and tigers and bears and any vicious dragon confronting you and crushes them under foot (Psalm 91:13). He is not be harmed one bit. That is the wonder working power of this sanctuary. However, while it is valid to make the application that because He is our sanctuary, and He is safe from threat of lion or adder, so we are safe from such threats (ala Luke 10:19; Mark 16:17-18) such an application misses what its actually saying. This treading down serpents is not what we who take refuge in the Lord do. It is something already done by Him who is your refuge.
So it is not we who call on the Lord. It is Our Lord Jesus who calls on His Father, who invokes His name and the Father hearkens unto Him. He listens to His voice. He rushes to obey His Son. The way any loving father rushes to the aid of his child as soon as they cry out. In fact, this Father rushes before His children even cry (Luke 15:20). For “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) While you are still a long way off He rushes out to greet you (Luke 15:11-24, especially v.20), throwing off all restraint, not caring what the neighbours think, or the world says about Him. You are His Son. His only Son. You who were lost are found in Christ Jesus. He loves you and is eager to save you.
That’s what this psalm (Psalm 91) is about. Christ calls on the Father. The Father saves the Son because He perfectly delights in and places His trust in the Father. The Father saves Him from the power of death which He carried for you (2 Corinthians 5:21) killing it at the cross. For like the Prodigal Son, Jesus sallied forth from His Father’s house. He wasted His Father’s riches recklessly on sinners and reprobates, and fair weather friends like you and me. For while Our Lord Jesus was without sin, nonetheless, He was accused by the self-righteous of being a drunkard and a glutton who hangs out with prostitutes and their ilk (Matthew 11:18-20). He hangs out with you. Reckless living. Seeking out likes of you. Going where you have been, where you go, where you have taken yourself. Taking your burdens, your cares, your sins on Himself. Letting it bankrupt and kill Him. Invoking His Father’s name from the cross He forgives you saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Completing His work He breathed His last saying, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
He is your refuge. Even in this life. Even in the daily temptations and pressures. Call on the name of Jesus. Invoke the name in which you were baptized. Cry out to Him in temptations to sin and especially in temptations to despair once Satan has scratched that itch of yours raw and again you surrendered. For the little temptation to do some fleshly thing is nothing compared to the true temptation that Satan wants to place in front of you of denying your Lord who is your salvation, who is your refuge from guilt and shame. Satan wants you to have another god. A god of guilt, who says, “The Father can’t possibly forgive you.”
The Father has answered Jesus’ cries for you. You are saved. Don’t you doubt it. The Triune Name was invoked over you with water. The Word of God which feeds your eternal life is fed into your mouth. For Man can not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God. Especially, the Word made flesh. He who is in you is your rest. With the refuge of the Most High placed on your tongue and swallowed into you what can separate you from the love of Christ? The Father’s love and refuge are yours.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON