The Psalms were written as prayers to God. In the Hebrew tradition the book was referred to as “The Prayers of David.” Our God gave us this extensive collection of recorded prayers for a reason – they are patterns and models for our own thoughts and prayers every day. Paraphrasing the Psalms into prayers is an effective way in which to pray as David prayed.
In the previous post on Covid-19 and prayer, I paraphrased the first six verses of Psalm 91 into a prayer. Going on from verse 7:
“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
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.”
This part of David’s prayer goes to the heart of many people’s fears today, the fear of dying or losing a loved one to this disease. I understand these fears. I have a mother in her nineties who lives 2200 miles from me. If she were to become sick with this, I will likely not even be able to go to her. This is what David refers to when he speaks of those who will fall at his side, at his right hand. These are people close to him, not enemies.
Here, David acknowledges several key understandings. First, great difficulty may befall us. Disasters, calamities, and terrible turns of events will befall all people, including God’s people. Second, those who are righteous will at some point see the recompense due the wicked. There is no necessary connection here between the fallen and the wicked. These can easily be two groups of people. Sometimes it is the righteous who fall, and sometimes it is the unrighteous. Sometimes it is both.
The issue here is that death will come, a fact we established in the last post on this topic. The manner and timing of our deaths is very important to our God, as is the status of our relationship to Him and His righteousness. If we are living near to our God and in His righteousness, we can be assured of at least these two things: We will not die outside the appointed time and manner, and we will look on when the wicked receive their due. Fortunately for the wicked, our God delays that judgment as long as possible in order that more may come into His righteousness.
Thus, David wrote, “If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” We avail ourselves of the righteousness of our God by making Him our only refuge and our life. The promises of our God are for those who seek to live in union with Him, surrendered to Him, and committed to Him before all else.
My paraphrasing of this section of the psalm in my praying often is along these lines:
“Lord, many may fall in these times. Many may be close to me, even at my right hand, even friends and family. I trust You in every circumstance, my God. Please keep me in Your righteousness and live Your holy life through me. Please retain me so that I am with You when judgment comes.
For You are my refuge, O Lord my God. You are the One in Whom I live and have my being. I trust You. I know that nothing that happens to me will occur while You are looking the other way. Nothing will be objectively harmful or disastrous to me. I trust You to guard me with Your Spirit and Your angels. They will guard me and bear me up as You will it. And Your will is enough for me. No matter what dangers or evils I must travel through or tread upon, You will trample down anything that harms me at the soul and spirit levels of my life.”
I hope these prayers taken from David’s prayer will be helpful to you not only in coping with these current difficulties, but also in shaping your view of your God and your New Covenant relationship with Him.
In the next post on Covid 19 and prayer, look for a story of how our God rescued a city through the prayers of just three people.