Friday, May 15
Psalm 91 and COVID-19
Scripture: 1 Kings 1, 1 Chronicles 28, Psalm 91, 1 Thessalonians 5
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91 is a beautiful and much-loved psalm about God’s protection and care for those who trust Him. It is worth memorizing. Here are a few of the beautiful promises:
- He will save you from the fowler’s snare and the deadly pestilence.
- He will cover you with his wings. (Picture a mother bird with her chicks.)
- You will not fear the terror of night, the pestilence or the plague.
- A thousand (or 10,000) may fall beside you, but it won’t come near you.
- No harm, no disaster will overtake you.
- God’s angels will guard you in all your ways.
- God will rescue and protect you.
- God will be with you in trouble and deliver you.
- God will give you a long life and save you.
All this is promised to those who trust the Lord, who dwell in the Lord’s presence.
What a great psalm for such a time as this! It is comforting—and troubling—at the same time.
While I don’t have comprehensive data to support this, it seems that Christians are not immune to the coronavirus. For example, 61 members of the Skagit Valley Choir met for practice on March 10 at the Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church. One of them had COVID-19 and didn’t know it. Within 3 days, other choir members began to fall sick; 52 of them were infected, and 2 died. (I am assuming that many of the choir members were Christians.). You can read the story here.
My niece, Whitney, is a nurse and a devoted Jesus-follower. She went to Italy at the height of the pandemic to care for the sick. She contracted COVID-19 and is stuck in Italy, quarantined until she has 2 negative tests on back to back days.
So here’s the troubling part. This psalm seems to promise that no harm, no plague, no pestilence will befall us. That doesn’t seem to be our experience, or the experience of Christians through history. Nor is it supported by many other Scriptures that tell us we will have trouble in this world. So what should we do with this?
First, we should trust the Lord to care for us. He does.
Second, we should trust the Lord to be with us. He is.
Third, we should act responsibly. Satan used v. 11-12 to tempt Jesus to put God to the test by jumping off the temple—see if the angels would really catch him as Psalm 91 says (see Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus rebuked Satan and said we should not test the Lord. Trusting God and acting responsibly are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both. There is a difference between trusting God and testing God.
Fourth, we should act bravely. During the great plagues in the Roman Empire and later in Europe, Christians were famous for risking their lives to bury the dead and care for the sick. Some of them contracted the plague and died; others contracted it and survived. But they acted bravely precisely because they trusted the Lord to care for them, and even if they got sick and died, they had the hope of eternal life.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for these beautiful promises, for your presence and your care and protection. Let those motivate us to trust you, and to act responsibly and bravely.