A Devotion for 19 August 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand;but it shall not come nigh thee. 8Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;” (Psalm 91:1-9; all scripture quoted is from the King James Bible)
“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)
When we were very young, we never ran to the security of our house when a threat such as a mean dog or a loud thunderclap arose. What did we do? We always ran to our father’s side for we knew wherever our father was we would find comfort and safety. Our father was big and strong, and plenty able to defend us from every imaginable threat – or at least so we supposed. Certainly, our father would protect us to the utter extent of his strength, but there are many sorrows and fears that arise in life that are beyond the power of a mortal father to address. But there are no threats or dangers in this life that are beyond the power of our Father in Heaven to neutralize. He is our fortress, shield and buckler; and, yes, His wings are strong and broad in covering His children from all evils.
In a sense, we enjoy even greater intimacy of protection than His wings. We abide in His Heart, and He abides in ours. No worldly power can enter in to threaten that abode in Christ. He does not sojourn as if a visitor, but He ABIDES in the Temples of our souls. This is the very Secret Place of the Most High – a place of security, joy, and hope of which the world cannot know or intrude.
The 91st Psalm is a psalm of encouragement throughout the long, dark night of our souls. It is preceded by a prayer of Moses (90th Psalm) which extolls our attention to our sins and the detriment they afford to our souls. That 90th Psalm sets the stage for our understanding of the wages of sin; and the 91st Psalm informs us the security that is made available in Christ where the penalty for sin has been satisfied by a Beautiful Savior and Redeemer.
It is the Godly love instilled in every believer by the Holy Ghost that, like Christ, we should have compassion on sinners whose hope is forlorn and whose souls are dead in trespasses and sins. We can relate to that unfortunate state of the soul for we walked in the same darkness ere the Light of the World lighted our path and brightened our steps. The close and intimate relationship we enjoy in Christ defines that Secret Place of our souls. This is not merely addressed in many of the Psalms, but throughout the Bible. That which our Beloved Teacher, the Holy Spirit, wishes us to remember with certain soundness, he reiterates over and over again. Repetition aids recall is a principle of learning of which God is the Master Teacher. “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (Isaiah 28:9-10)
It is within the hidden chambers of the heart that the Holy Ghost makes His Temple at the moment of conversion. There is none stronger in protection and security – none able to satisfy the thirst and hunger of the soul with such complete grace and harmony of spirit.
The outward appearance of piety may be deceiving. But the perfect representation of our Lord Jesus Christ is defined in the Wilderness Tabernacle. Within it was decorated in fine linens, silk, gold, silver, and burnished brass. But to the world viewing the Tabernacle from the outside, it was perhaps the most common in attraction of all structures – in fact, it was covered outside with goat hair. This presented a very plain and uncomely appearance compared to the beauty of the inner courts. This perfectly depicts our Lord whose outer appearance was common and ordinary, yet His divine Spirit and Soul was invested in beauty, compassion and love.
“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:2-7)
There is an old Gospel song which asks: “Where can I go but to the Lord?” The question is rhetorical since there is no other savior or redeemer to whom we may make appeal. He is the place of safety and our Ark of Salvation to which we must flee to avoid the coming day of wrath. As surely as that Ark of Noah rose higher and higher in the flood waters above the ruin and devastation below, so shall the believer in the Ark of Christ be lifted up in like manner on “the terrible day of the Lord.” “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD. 7Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.” (Psalms 27:5-7)
Every home has a ‘secret place’ of meeting with God – the prayer closet. It may be an enclosed structure in the house, merely a veil of covering, or a quiet and solitary place at which we can meet our Lord in prayer face-to-face. “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:5-6)
In His earthly ministry, even our Lord had a secret place of prayer to His Father in Heaven: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:34-35) Why did our Lord resort to a solitary place? Because the Voice of our Father may be drowned out in the hustle and bustle of the busy thoroughfare. When the noise of barter, trade and entertainment is blasting in our ears, it is not easy to hear that still small voice which spoke to Elijah. “And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. 8And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. 9And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 11And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13And it was so, when Elijah heard it that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:7-13”
Until the heart is still and attentive in prayer, it is unlikely that we will hear the Voice of the Lord though He is able under every circumstance to open our ears. Enter into that “secret place of the Most High” and make your appeal directly to the Lord of Mercy and Grace. His ears are not stopped by any extraneous circumstance.