Wednesday, February 17

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 (ESV)

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

The Israeli scholar Yair Hoffman calls this an example of an “amulet psalm.”  Recitation of it puts one in touch with God’s guarding power, as no aspect of our existence is beneath his unflagging care of our well-being.

On making his way through the rocky Judean countryside, the speaker is upheld by angelic intervention against stumbling, a providential intervention against harm.  Agents and messengers from God, the angels guarantee the protection of men bound for glory (Matt 18:10; Acts 12:15; Heb 1:14).

“The soul of man,” Father Simeon Leiva-Merikakis writes, “is either a vast cavern of demons or a haven for angels–such is the blessing or the curse of being gifted with spirit.  And this ample abode is never empty:  it must ever be animated by the dance of the divine vitality and the music of the angelic harmony or be the scene where bitter spirits in revolt pour out their bile and twirl in a haunting round of death.”

St. Paul writes of his experiences with both the Lord’s angels and those of Satan.  “So to keep me from becoming conceited … a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me” (2 Cor 12:7).  Even the fell ministrations of evil beings can be caused by God, the saint observes, to work for the good of those who love him (Rom 6:28).

O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and men in a wonderful order:  Mercifully grant that, as thy holy angels always serve and worship thee in heaven, so by thy appointment they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


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