“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” — Psalm 91:1-2
This is by far my favorite psalm. I recite it before every game and throughout my everyday life. I love what the Psalmist is doing here in these verses. In verse 1, he is describing a place of safety, with shelter, where we can abide and be secure. But in order to fully appreciate the context of this passage, we need to think about where and why it was written.
The Middle East is a dry, arid, hot environment, and we have to remember they had no air conditioning back then. The sun was used as a metaphor for oppression or difficulties we face because anyone who worked or traveled outside for very long knew how brutal the sun’s blaze could be. People often sought out shelter in the shadow of something; they’d search for anything that could be a source of reprieve from the heat. If you’ve ever found a shady tree on a brutally hot day, you know what this feels like. In the same way that these people look for a retreat from the sun’s oppression, we too have a lot of things in this world that can beat us down and zap us of our strength.
Living in kingdoms, these people understood that a good king was someone who could cast a big shadow and be a fortress for people to find refuge in. Likewise, we serve a vast, magnificent God who stands in the way of all our difficulties. He takes the brunt of our burdens and protects us from the battles we face. We only need to stand in His shadow.
As an athlete, there are so many things we can try to find security in. The world tells us to look for rest in many things, but these things only cast a really small shadow; they don’t give us the comfort and peace we need. But if we rest in the shadow of our strong God, not only will we find the shelter we need, we’ll be filled with the strength and power only He provides!
I’m 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, facing men on the field who are 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds. I have to find my strength daily in the Lord to overcome the physical limitations I have. I need to trust in Him to be my refuge and shield to do what He’s called me to do. As I recite this psalm, I need to constantly check my heart and realize this strength is not my own; it comes from a much greater Source. I need to ask myself, “Am I trying to take the brunt of this on myself, which can only crush me? Or am I allowing the Lord to stand in that place for me so I can rest in His shadow?”
When we abide in Him — a place of strength — we find everything we need.
— Chris Maragos, Philadelphia Eagles safety
Chris Maragos is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out Chris’ Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/chris-maragos/
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