Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honour him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
This psalm affirms God’s protection for God’s people and has a long and cherished tradition of inclusion in the worship of the Christian church.
It has customarily been one of the psalms expressing God’s reassurance and continual presence which form part of the Compline service within the daily prayer cycle of Christian communities. For many centuries, Compline has been the last service of each day in religious communities living together in convents and monasteries. The prayers, psalms, hymns and responses included in Compline mark the close of each day as the people of God move into a ‘quiet night and perfect rest’.
And in the Great Silence of the night-time in a religious house, the words of Psalm 91 serve as an echoing prayer of assurance that ‘no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent’ – words which still resonate for all God’s people as we journey through the cycles of our planet and the rhythms of our lives.
God, our guide and protector,
help me to walk trustingly with you
through the days and nights of my life,
through the noise and the silence of my journey of faith,
knowing that you seek me and hold me in love
wherever I may find myself.
Philip Jones is a serving Elder at Wilbraham St Ninian’s in Chorlton, Manchester.
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