Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Shadow Shelter Of God

I love this Psalm! No one knows for sure who wrote it, but most Bible scholars believe it was penned by either Moses or King David. Some scholars believe that the beautiful shadow image was inspired by the pillar of cloud that hung over the Israelites in the desert by day and the pillar of fire at night.

And yet, the shadow image does not just appear in this psalm. We find it again in Psalms 17:8-9: “Keep me as the apple of Your eye: hide me under the shadow of Your wing.”

Psalm 57:1: “O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge.”

 Psalm 63:7: “Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.”

 All of these psalms using the shadow metaphor were written by King David. All of which suggests to me that psalm 91 was also written by him. But I am not a Bible scholar.

As a visual artist I am always trying to envision the scriptures in my mind as I read because I love to illustrate them. The image of the “shadow of the Almighty” presented a challenge though since 1 John 1:5 says: “God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in Him.” (NLT) Shadows are clearly dark.

 “Lord, how could Your light produce a shadow?” I asked Him, my mind trying to conjure a literal vision to satisfy my imagination.

The Holy Spirit reminded me that the Psalms are poetry, and that poetry is art made of metaphor, simile, and symbols.
One of my favorite artists, Edgar Whitney, once said that “Art is more concerned with the Truth of a thing than the fact of it.”

The shadow image in Psalm 91:1 reveals a powerful truth about the reality of God that goes far deeper than its literal meaning.
The Psalmist is saying that the shelter of the Most High is God’s shadow. A shadow is similar to a reflection in a mirror in that, although it might be an intangible thing in and of itself, it is always being cast by something that is actually there---a reality on the other side of it.

For King David, known as “the man after God’s own heart,” God’s shadow is the secret place of the Almighty, and that though it is an invisible fortress, a refuge not made with hands, forged of faith, and seen only with the eyes of the heart, it is a Living Truth so strong and powerful that he could bank his very life on it.

Many people love this psalm. We like to claim every one of the verses and imagine we are abiding in the shadow shelter of the Almighty--until the bottom falls out of our lives and we come apart. 

Suddenly we are confronted with a major challenge that reveals to us either a heart of faith as flimsy as the fortress we’ve been trusting in or it moves us closer to the shadow shelter where we come to know that God and God alone is in control and we must be still and trust and wait on Him.

God is asking us to stop trusting in the things we can see—to stop demanding that we be in control of our lives. For that is the very essence of idolatry and it breaks God’s heart.

Our human nature recoils at putting our trust in a shadow fortress. We want a pill to stop our pain, a program to fix the schools, a guaranteed plan to keep us healthy. We want our lives to be predictable.

But what happens when pills no longer stop the pain, when they run out of antibiotics to fight the infection and the doctors can’t fix what’s wrong with us? When schools are falling apart, leaders don’t know what they are doing and no one seems to have the answers?

What happens when all the fortresses we’re trusting in come falling down on us one by one and there is no one to help?
God wants us to know that He is still on the throne; He is in control of our destiny.

He who counts the very hairs on our head and who measures the dust of the earth loves us with an immeasurable love and will never leave or forsake us.

He says, “Be still and know that I am God, trust Me. Come abide in My shadow shelter; all will be well.”

Every single promise in Psalm 91 is true and all are contingent upon our faith in the first two verses. The issue is: do we really believe in them?  

God is very real. A shadow is always an intangible projection of a solid reality beyond itself. God’s shadow is the safest, most comforting place you will ever know.

Prayer: Almighty God of love, thank you for your priceless gift of faith. May you open our eyes to see your shadow shelter and draw us closer to you that we may abide in the secret place of Your heart. In the name of Jesus we ask. Amen.

The Shadow Shelter of God © 2012 Suzanne Davis Harden All Rights Reserved. 
Unto The Least Of These

*I first shared this message Tuesday, July 17, 2012 on the Encourage 365 Devotional Website; but I wanted to post it on my blog for those who have not had a chance to read it. God bless you!


  1. Thank you so much, Denise! May the Lord overshadow you with His great love and mercy and always keep you as the apple of His eye. Love and many hugs, Suzanne :)

  2. A very timely post! I needed the message!
    Blessings Suzanne!

  3. Thanks, Jeannette, for stopping by! May the Lord hide you beneath the shadow of His wings and fill you with rivers of faith and hope to meet every challenge that comes your way. In His love, Suzanne :)

  4. Thank you, 'Zette <3!

  5. Thanks for visiting and sharing, my friend! May the Lord hold you securely beneath the shadow of His wings and fill you with rivers of His peace and hope; may you know you are His cherished jewel. (Malachi 3:17) love in Christ and many hugs and prayers! :)


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