The Spiritual Security Provided for Us by God
“I will say to Jehovah: ‘You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God, in whom I will trust.’”—Ps. 91:2.
1, 2. (a) Reportedly, what did Bonaparte say about the sword and the spirit? (b) Hitler learned the statement’s truth in connection with what Christians?
IT IS reported that the sword-wielding Napoleon Bonaparte said: “There are two powers in the world—the sword and the spirit. But, in the long run, the spirit always wins out.”
2 Evidently dictator Adolf Hitler did not believe that observation made by a hardened warrior. By the power of the “sword” of sanguinary warfare, he set out to conquer the world. In the territory that he violently took over, Hitler tried to break the spirit of those who held to Christian neutrality toward worldly conflicts. In the year 1945 the power of his “sword” failed him and, in confession of defeat, he shot himself and had his corpse disposed of by fire. But the persecuted Christian witnesses of Jehovah, although reduced in ranks by some thousands, came forth triumphantly with unbroken spirit and openly resumed their work of proclaiming God’s kingdom in lands overrun by Hitler. The spirit of God in them won out after twelve years of Hitler rule.
3. (a) In what type of security did those warriors trust, and with what outcome? (b) In what type of security did Jehovah’s witnesses trust, and why?
3 Both Bonaparte and Hitler sought security for themselves in a mighty military organization, along with strong autocratic political power and influence. Such worldly-wise type of security proved disappointing, deceptive. The seemingly insecure, unprotected witnesses of Jehovah were interested in a different type of security. It was a spiritual security, for such security is what will preserve one in a condition where one is worthy of everlasting life in peace and happiness in God’s coming new system of things for mankind. To this day the surviving witnesses of Jehovah in Europe are seeking to remain within this spiritual security, for in the oncoming “great tribulation” man-made material, financial, military means of security will not result in preservation of one’s life into God’s new order. “The treasures of the wicked one will be of no benefit, but righteousness is what will deliver from death.”—Prov. 10:2.
4. Why is the spiritual security to be preferred to the physical kind, and what Bible psalm describes it?
4 Spiritual security means having God’s protection of our spiritual life in harmony with His requirements for everlasting life. It is those who have spiritual security whom God approves, even though he may permit them to suffer death for their faithfulness to Him at enemy hands. Their spirituality maintained down till death is what he will reward with resurrection to the blessings and opportunities of life in his righteous new order. Spiritual security is to be preferred to the physical security that materialistic men try to provide. The spiritual security is the essential kind that we desire. This is the security that the beautiful ninety-first Psalm of the Bible describes for us.
5. What is to be said of the composer of Psalm 91, and upon whom does it center our attention?
5 The inspired composer of Psalm 91 was likely the same man as the writer of Psalm 90, the last verse of which the ninety-first Psalm follows without any break by a superscription announcing who the composer is. In such a case it was the prophet Moses, whose name is given in the superscription of Psalm 90. But although circumstances seem to indicate this, there is no certainty of it. Nevertheless, it is one of the inspired writings of God’s Holy Word, and that is what counts, what makes it true and reliable. Written at least 460 years before our Common Era, it makes no direct mention of the long-promised Messiah, God’s Anointed One, or the Christ. It centers our attention upon the One who was the Divine Source for the spiritual security of even the Messiah, the Christ.
6, 7. How did Satan use Psalm 91:11, 12 in his trying to tempt Jesus Christ, and why without success?
6 For example, in the year 29 of our Common Era, God’s great Adversary applied Ps 91 verses eleven and twelve to a certain man in the Middle East. Satan the Devil, the Tempter, was out to wreck the spirituality of this man, deceptively by the misuse of God’s own inspired Word. In those verses 11, 12 of Psalm 91 the Tempter worked in the idea of physical security. He argued that especially a “son of God” would have such personal bodily protection and safeguarding. In proof of this to the Devil and to the Jewish people, the man should hurl himself down from the battlement of the temple at Jerusalem and let the angels carry him gently to the temple pavement against the laws of gravitation. This would be like a “sign from heaven.”
7 Of all persons, this Psalm 91 should fit this man who had recently been anointed with God’s spirit to be the Messiah, the Christ. So the Devil schemed what he thought was a real temptation for this man anointed of God. But the man, Jesus Christ, saw through the trick, saw the wrong thrust given to Psalm 91:11, 12. He refused to forsake his spiritual security.
8. How did Jesus counter the temptation by Satan, and with what benefit to himself?
8 He did this by appealing to the inspired command given through the prophet Moses. The Bible record tells us: “Jesus said to him [that is, to the Devil]: ‘Again it is written, “You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.”’” (Matt. 4:7; Deut. 6:16) Jesus believed in holy angels all right, but he did not believe that those angels would protect him against himself if he improperly tried to defy God’s known law of gravitation to make a selfish, foolhardy display of himself before the Jewish people at the temple. Wisely, in this case, Jesus’ keeping to his place of spiritual security resulted in his physical security. He did not die a premature death in a way that did not fulfill Scripture. He remained alive, “in the secret place of the Most High.”—Ps. 91:1.
“THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH”
9, 10. (a) Was Jesus rejecting Psalm 91 as having an application to himself individually? (b) To whom also does this psalm apply, and in what way?
9 Psalm 91 applies to a time of many dangers such as are mentioned by the psalmist, in order to give comfort, confidence and assurance to those passing through the perilous time. Jesus Christ, when on earth as a man, could take to heart this marvelous psalm, for there can be no doubt that it applied to him as an individual. When he rejected the Devil’s proposal, falsely based on Ps 91 verses eleven and twelve, he was not rejecting the psalm as applying to him in a right way. If there was anyone that set his affection upon Jehovah God, it was Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of Ps 91 verse fourteen.
10 Logically it would apply to all his baptized disciples who faithfully follow in his footsteps and copy his example. Not that each one of these can say, ‘This psalm applies to me individually just as it did to Jesus Christ.’ No, but it applies to these true disciples as a class, and anyone who finds himself in that class can draw spiritual strength from it. The psalm did not foretell any particular one of Christ’s true and loyal disciples.
11-13. (a) Where does Revelation speak of the remnant of spiritual brothers of Jesus Christ, and why must they need to be in the place of security provided by God? (b) How did the Watch Tower issue of August 1, 1927, show who was in the “secret place of safety”?
11 The Bible book of Revelation, chapter twelve, verse seventeen, mentions a “remnant” of spiritual brothers of Jesus Christ as being on the woe-afflicted earth after the birth of God’s Messianic kingdom in the heavens in the year 1914 C.E.
12 Concerning the remaining ones of the “seed” of the heavenly mother of that kingdom, Revelation 12:17 (King James Authorized Version) says: “And the dragon [Satan the Devil] was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Since this remnant of the woman’s seed on earth is warred upon by Satan the Devil and his demon angels, the remnant must certainly need to be in the place of spiritual security provided by the God whose commandments the remnant keeps. In harmony with this obvious fact, in the article “Place of Security,” published in the Watch Tower issue of August 1, 1927, the opening paragraph on page 227 cited Revelation 12:17 and then said:
13 “Those who are of the ‘remnant’ will surely seek with diligence to know the secret place of safety and, being brought into it, will be anxious to abide there.”
14, 15. (a) With that understanding, what series of articles was started off back there in 1927? (b) This was eight years before what modern-day crowd of people was discussed in The Watchtower?
14 So, with that understanding of those who were then dwelling in the “secret place of the Most High,” the series of three consecutive articles dealing with Psalm 91 was started off, entitled “Place of Security,” “Why in Security,” and “Defence and Security,” and published in the Watch Tower issues of August 1 and 15 and September 1, 1927.a As matters turned out, that commentary on Psalm 91 was published eight years before the “great multitude” described in Revelation 7:9-17 (AV) began forming, or from the year 1935 onward. (See the two-part article entitled “The Great Multitude,” published in the Watchtower issues of August 1 and 15, 1935.) In describing this “great multitude,” the inspired apostle John says, in Revelation 7:14, 15, (AV):
15 “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them [or, will spread his tent over them, New World Translation].”
16. (a) The “great crowd” also should be in what place of security, and why? (b) Aside from Jesus Christ, who is the one foretold in Psalm 91, and from when on is the time of special need for Psalm 91 to apply?
16 According to that prophetic description, the faithful members of the “great multitude” or “great crowd” (NW) should today be sharing spiritual security with the “remnant” of the woman’s seed in the “secret place of the Most High.” Otherwise, the Most High God would not preserve them during the “great tribulation” so that they may come out of it alive on earth and into God’s new order. In that righteous new order those of the “great crowd” continue rendering sacred service to God day and night in the courtyards of his spiritual temple. It can thus be seen that, aside from Jesus Christ himself, Psalm 91 did not foretell any individual disciple of Christ, but did refer to his baptized disciples as a class or congregation, down till this day. The time for special need of its application is from the year 1919 onward, after the ousting of Satan and his demon angels from heaven down to the vicinity of this earth, which ouster of them followed the birth of God’s Messianic kingdom in the heavens in 1914 C.E.—Rev. 12:1-13.
17. As we now take up an examination of Psalm 91, what personal question can we ask ourselves?
17 While we now take up an examination of Psalm 91, we can ask ourselves personally, Do I belong to the favored class that is referred to and addressed in this faith-strengthening psalm? If we can say Yes, then we can be sure that we shall have the spiritual security that is described in the psalm. Descriptively, the psalm opens up, saying: “Anyone dwelling in the secret place of the Most High will procure himself lodging under the very shadow of the Almighty One.”—Ps. 91:1.
18. What is that “secret place of the Most High,” and why cannot worldlings see or discern it?
18 The “secret place of the Most High” is not the place where he himself resides in the heavens invisible to human eyes, or even secluded from the heavenly hosts. It is not the heavenly place that was pictured by the Most Holy, the innermost compartment of the tent of worship constructed by the prophet Moses in the wilderness of Mount Sinai in the year 1513 B.C.E. There the divine presence was symbolized by the miraculous Shekinah light that hovered above the mercy seat of the golden Ark of the Covenant. The Most High needs no secret place for himself, in order to be sheltered from the threats and dangers described in Psalm 91. Rather, the “secret place” is the concealed place, the covert, that he has provided for those who fulfill the requirements that are set out in Psalm 91. It is a place of shelter for them, a place of protection for them. Since it is a place of spiritual security, the people of the world cannot see it with their natural eyes, and, not having spiritual discernment, they cannot see that the dwellers therein are in that “secret place.”
19. (a) Those in the “secret place” were spiritually safeguarded on what issue, as suggested in what designation? (b) When was this issue published to the world?
19 However, the spiritual security that those faithfully dwelling there enjoy testifies to their really being there. The facts show that they are spiritually safeguarded on the paramount issue that is now before all heaven and earth. It is the issue indicated by the designation of the One providing the “secret place,” namely, “the Most High.” Ah yes, it is the issue of Universal Sovereignty. It was called to the attention of the world of mankind in the midst of World War II, in which the nations were battling over the question of who shall rule the earth, and some months before the United States of America became involved in that world struggle. At the international assembly of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses at St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., in the summer of 1941, the then president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society delivered the speech on the subject “Integrity.” In that speech to scores of thousands of conventioners, he stated and made clear that the issue before all creation was Universal Domination.—See the leading article “Integrity,” published in the Watchtower issue of August 15, 1941, page 245, paragraph 19.
20. When is the time for settlement of this paramount issue, and who are the ones that see and take their stand on the issue in favor of the one to be vindicated respecting it?
20 The questions of the domination of the earth and the national sovereignties of the peoples are hotly contested at present. The world situation as well as Bible chronology marks this as the generation in which the Most High must once and for all time settle the age-long issue of Universal Domination or Universal Sovereignty. The ones occupying the “secret place of the Most High” are the ones who see the issue and have unequivocally come out in favor of His universal sovereignty and therefore maintain Christian neutrality toward the conflicts of the worldly nations for national sovereignty and domination of the earth. The nonpolitical dwellers in the “secret place of the Most High” could not enter and remain there unless they recognized and held fast to His universal sovereignty. They eagerly look forward to His vindicating of his universal sovereignty within this generation, in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the symbolic place called Har–Magedon.—Rev. 16:13-16.
21. In the twentieth century B.C.E., what king was on the right side of the issue of universal sovereignty, and what patriarch did he bless and with what words?
21 On Bible record Melchizedek, the king of Salem in the Middle East, was on the right side of the issue of universal sovereignty in the twentieth century before our Common Era. The short account written about him by the prophet Moses proves that. To the Universal Sovereign this ancient king ascribed the victory gained by the patriarch Abram (or Abraham) over the four invader kings from the land of Mesopotamia. To this effect, Genesis 14:18-20 tells us: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine, and he was priest of the Most High God. Then he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth; and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your oppressors into your hand!’ At that Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
22, 23. (a) How did Abram, immediately afterward, give public evidence of taking his stand on the side of the Universal Sovereign? (b) How did the Universal Sovereign act within his right, as recorded in Deuteronomy 32:8?
22 By giving Melchizedek as the priest of the Producer of heaven and earth a tenth part of all the spoils of victory over the four marauder kings, Abram took his stand with priest-king Melchizedek on the side of the Universal Sovereign. In public evidence of this Abram swore in the name of the Universal Sovereign. This he did when restoring to the king of Sodom the properties that he, Abram, had recovered for him. Genesis 14:21-24 informs us: “After that the king of Sodom said to Abram: ‘Give me the souls [the rescued people], but take the goods for yourself.’ At this Abram said to the king of Sodom: ‘I do lift up my hand in an oath to Jehovah the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth, that, from a thread to a sandal lace, no, I shall take nothing from anything that is yours, in order that you may not say, “It was I who made Abram rich.” Nothing for me!’” The One in whose name Abram swore acted as the Universal Sovereign when he reserved for Abram’s descendants, the Israelites, the land in the Middle East that he had promised to Abraham. Says Moses on this:
23 “When the Most High gave the nations an inheritance, when he parted the sons of Adam from one another, he proceeded to fix the boundary of the peoples with regard for the number of the sons of Israel.”—Deut. 32:8.
24. How in the annunciation to Mary was it shown that faithful angels recognize the Universal Sovereign, and how did Jesus Christ show such recognition in his words to his disciples on lending?
24 Even the faithful heavenly angels recognize the universal sovereignty of the creative Producer of heaven and earth. So, when the angel Gabriel explained to the Jewish virgin, Mary, how she would miraculously become the mother of her firstborn son, who was to be called Jesus, he said to her: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God’s Son.” (Luke 1:35) And later that full-grown Son showed that he also recognized who was the Universal Sovereign when he said to his disciples: “Continue to love your enemies and to do good and to lend without interest, not hoping for anything back; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked.”—Luke 6:35.
25. What prayer regarding the issue of paramount importance is to be answered within our generation, and where does our security lie therefore?
25 The time has drawn near when the inspired prayer will be answered against those who oppose the universal sovereignty of the Producer of heaven and earth: “O may they be ashamed and be disturbed for all times, and may they become abashed and perish; that people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” (Ps. 83:17, 18) Hence, in this generation when the paramount issue of universal sovereignty is to be permanently settled, our security lies in dwelling in the “secret place of the Most High,” unwaveringly upholding His side of the issue. Our dwelling there will be a protection against our being disastrously influenced and misguided by all the controversial political propaganda now rampant in the earth.—Ps. 27:5.
“THE VERY SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY ONE”
26, 27. (a) Who are the ones that are taken as guests into the “secret place of the Most High”? (b) Why can this One enforce his sovereignty, and so what is the reasonable thing for us to do?
26 What will “anyone dwelling in the secret place of the Most High” procure for himself? The complete opening verse of Psalm 91 answers: “Anyone dwelling in the secret place of the Most High will procure himself lodging under the very shadow of the Almighty One.” In this case, the procuring of lodging for oneself means that one will be treated as the guest of the Almighty One. This Almighty One is the same as the Most High. The one and the same Being has both qualities of supreme highness and almightiness.
27 Because of being all-powerful, he can maintain his supremacy, his universal sovereignty. He can enforce his sovereignty in any and all parts of creation, against any intelligent, living creatures who may rebel against it. It is useless for any creature to oppose or ignore the sovereignty of the Most High, for He is the Almighty One. The reasonable thing to do is to recognize His rightful sovereignty and be submissive, loyal and true to it, always acknowledging him as the Sovereign of one’s life. The ones that do this are the ones that are taken into the “secret place of the Most High,” as the guests of the Almighty One.
28. When did the Most High call his being all-powerful to Abraham’s attention, and how did He prove it?
28 For hundreds of millions of people today who are not familiar with the Holy Bible, it is hard to grasp the idea of an almighty Being, without equal in all the realm of existence. But as long ago as the twentieth century before our Common Era, the Most High, the Producer of heaven and earth, called that fact to the attention of his earthly friend, the patriarch Abram. In the year before the birth of Abram’s son Isaac, the Most High by means of His angel spoke of himself as all-powerful. Genesis 17:1, 2 tells us: “When Abram got to be ninety-nine years old, then Jehovah appeared to Abram and said to him: ‘I am God Almighty. Walk before me and prove yourself faultless. And I will give my covenant between me and you, that I may multiply you very, very much.’” He proved that nothing was impossible for him by miraculously giving to Abram and his aged wife their son Isaac, when they were both dead as far as reproducing children was concerned. He was a hundred years old and she ninety years old at Isaac’s birth. (Gen. 17:17; 21:1-5; Rom. 4:19-21) This Almighty One still exists.
29. Today we can come into the “secret place of the Most High” only by means of whom, and why?
29 The Almighty One was as a very intimate Being to Abraham’s grandson Jacob. (Gen. 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; 49:25; Ex. 6:3) He can be very intimate to us also, even though we are such puny creatures in contrast. Just think of being a guest of His in the “secret place of the Most High”! But today, we must remember, we are admitted into this intimacy only through the good offices of his most intimate heavenly Son, Jesus Christ. During the night before laying down his perfect human life as a sacrifice to God for our sins, Jesus said to his faithful apostles: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) So it is through him that we approach to the Loftiest One in all existence and acknowledge Him as the Universal Sovereign, our Sovereign to whom our lives and loving loyalty and devotion belong. In this way we procure for ourselves “lodging under the very shadow of the Almighty One.”
30, 31. What picture evidently was in the mind of the psalmist when speaking about being “under the very shadow of the Almighty One?”
30 What a wonderful thing it is for us to be overshadowed by the Almighty One! This betokens our having his interest, concern and attention. The picture here is not that of a smaller person being in the shadow of some much larger person or that of being in the shadow of something lifeless, “the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” (Isa. 32:2) The right picture in the mind of the composing psalmist is that which is suggested in Psalm 17:8, where David prays to the Most High: “Keep me as the pupil of the eyeball, in the shadow of your wings may you conceal me.”
31 Yes, the picture drawn upon is that of a parent bird hovering aloft over its young and casting a shadow upon them. As long as the young ones down below see that they are in the shadow of their parent above, they know that they have its attention and are protected and are safe from predatory birds. That such bird flight overhead denotes attention and protection is confirmed by what is said in Isaiah 31:4, 5: “In the same way Jehovah of armies will come down to wage war over Mount Zion and over her hill. Like birds flying, Jehovah of armies will in the same way defend Jerusalem. Defending her, he will also certainly deliver her. Sparing her, he must also cause her to escape.”
32. (a) Thus the Almighty One and we in His “very shadow” are likened to what? (b) His being also the Most High enables Him to do what as a faithful Host?
32 Thus the Almighty One is likened to a mighty bird, and those who are in the “secret place” of spiritual security are likened to the young brood of that parent bird. Their being “under the very shadow of the Almighty One” makes the “secret place” all the more secure for them. He being the Most High, everything else is beneath him, and nothing below can escape his almighty powers of vision. He can at once detect any movement on the part of anything or anyone below against those who are under his “very shadow.” Instantly he can come to the defense and preservation of his overshadowed ones who are lodging with him as spiritual guests. He as Host faithfully keeps his honor with regard to his responsibility toward those whom he entertains as his guests. How consoling this thought! Where else could we find real spiritual security?
a Many years earlier, the book entitled “The Battle of Armageddon,” published in the year 1897, said, on page 592, paragraph 1: “A psalm describing this period declares:—‘A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee [the faithful saints, members of the body of Christ, whose elect members will now shortly be completed.]’—Psalm 91:7.”
Thus already back there in 1897 the individual addressed in Psalm 91 was regarded as a composite person, a class of disciples of Jesus Christ.
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When urging Jesus to hurl himself from the battlement of the temple, the Devil dishonestly quoted Psalm 91 as if it were a guarantee of physical security