Government And Peace

Let me sketch you a picture out of a children’s storybook as best I recall it from my childhood. Perhaps you’ve seen something like it yourself—a castle high on a hill, and below it the whole kingdom round about inhabited by happy and contented people. Throughout the land a stream wends its way; along its banks are fields and orchards, abundance for all. The people live without fear, safe and secure from all alarms and enemies because of the king who resides in the castle and protects them. He is a great king, and powerful. He watches over his kingdom night and day lest any attempt to invade it and disturb its peace.

What a lovely picture, eh? If only… Yes, if only it were real. If only we could live in that picture instead of in the real world with its troubles of the present and forebodings of the future. Peace and Confidence (transients from the world) have packed up and left the home of the heart; the unwelcome intruders Anxiety and Fear have moved in, and growing numbers can’t evict them. Neither, it seems, can their government. Thus, many these days have lost faith in their government; they are anxious and angry about the things their government is doing. Or not doing.

Oh that they might discover the reality of which my storybook picture is but a wistful imagination, and delight themselves in a peace that the world with all its governments cannot give. Here is that reality in the words of a prophecy 700 years before it began to be fulfilled, and which continues to this day, and shall forever:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isa 9:6,7 KJV)

Here then is the king, and here is His throne and His kingdom. Its government, its rule, is upon His shoulder—it is His responsibility—and He is more than up to the job; it only takes one of His shoulders, the other, as someone has said, He reserves for His lambs.

The promise is that “of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end…” Those two words government and peace are one. His government is peace.  Peace is His government. Dearly beloved, let this lay hold of us. In vain do we seek peace apart from His government in our lives. But when we have bowed the knee and the heart to this king, His government, that is to say His peace, rules over us and in us and nothing can disquiet it.

“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom…” There is the seat of His government—the throne of David. This reminds me of the prophecy of the priest Zacharias upon the birth of his son John the Baptist. The time of the fulfillment of prophecy and promise, of an oath and a covenant, had arrived. It’s a lengthy prophecy so I’ll compress it here (but I encourage you to read it in full; even if you’ve read it many times it’s well worth savouring again).

Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David…” (Lk 1:67-69 NKJV). This, then, is a prophecy of a coming king in the line of David. The horn in Scripture is symbolic of power, and the result of this power is “salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us…” Zacharias knew his Bible; he is almost quoting from it here: “for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies” (2 Sam 3:18). Zacharias continued: “…To grant that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.” So this deliverance from, this salvation from, is also salvation to. Under this king’s rule his subjects are not only liberated from their enemies, they are also provisioned with the grace of holiness and righteousness so that they may to serve their God without fear, for their enemies cannot penetrate His domain, fear is banished, and sin can no longer molest.

And so it is from the throne of David that this king’s kingdom—His government and peace—is ruled. The king of this kingdom, the Son of David, reigns on the throne of David in the castle of His kingdom high on the hill Zion at the right hand of God. It is from this throne in the heavens that His kingdom is administered here in the earth—by the Holy Spirit sent from that throne. Oh that we might be awakened to the reality of this. To be led by the Spirit of God is to be governed by the throne of God. Beloved, when that Government is in our hearts, its peace is inviolable. For the very throne of God is in that peace, and His throne is inviolable.

Be careful for nothing

Here’s another New Testament passage that has this same government and peace in mind:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6,7 KJV)

That’s from the old King James version of 1611. The word through here is a mistranslation of the Greek word en. Newer translations have “in Christ Jesus.”

And some of the words in the KJV have lost the meaning they had back then. For careful other translations now have anxious. That is, full of care. Be not full of care, but careless, or rather carefree, by bringing every care in prayer to God. That is the emphasis here. “…Let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God that passeth all understanding shall keep…” As in another much-loved verse in Isaiah: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa 26:3). Note who it is that does the keeping. “Thou wilt keep..” The perfect peace is the evidence of a mind stayed on God, it is the evidence of trust in God. It’s quite something that the word trust here (Heb batach) is elsewhere translated careless. “Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women…” (Isa 32:9,10). Careless is the same word translated trust. You mean when we trust God it’s okay to be careless? Apparently, yes. Not in our walk, this is not advocating a lax walk. But we can breathe a sigh of relief, can relax, be no longer on edge. We may be careless even in the midst of cares. We may not be “out of the woods,” but we may “sleep in the woods” (Ez 34:25). That’s pretty careless, wouldn’t you say? Better stay awake and worry. Not when we are in the care of the Shepherd King of David’s line who keeps His flock. Wild beasts may prowl round about roaring and howling in the darkness, cares and troubles may lurk in the shadows threatening to devour us, but we are kept in perfect peace, a peace that passes all understanding. Because we trust in Him.

Kept in the Keep

I love the word keep, this is another of the old KJV words that has lost its original force. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace…” “And the peace of God… shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus…” Among the many definitions of keep the Merriam Webster online dictionary has this: “to preserve, maintain. To watch over and defend, to keep from harm.” That’s the verb. Where the KJV has “shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” newer translations have “shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus…” Guard is the same word Paul used when he said that “In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me…” (2 Cor 11:32). So the peace of God that surpasses all understanding shall be a garrison keeping guard over our hearts and minds, permitting no escape, and keeping out any anxious thought attempting entry. For—let’s not miss this—how can they enter into Christ Jesus? Because…

…Keep is also a noun: “one that keeps or protects: such as aFORTESS, CASTLE specificallythe strongest and securest part of a medieval castle. bone whose job is to keep or tend. cPRISON, JAIL.”

 Here we find keep used two ways. The keep is “one whose job is to keep or tend.” And the keep is also a fortress, a castle, “specifically the strongest and securest part of a medieval castle.” I love that. To be guarded by the peace of God is to be kept in a keep—the strongest and securest part of a castle, the very purpose of which was to defend against the worst onslaught of the enemy. It is the keep’s (or keeper’s) job to do the keeping—not the one who is being kept. It’s not our responsibility to come up with peace in times of turmoil. Many these days are anxious for peace, longing for peace.  But once again, it’s a misguided and fruitless endeavour to pursue peace as an end in itself. I know that the Scriptures exhort us to seek peace (Ps 34:12). But we must know where to look for it. Peace will not be found apart from the government of the King of Righteousness. It is His righteousness that effects peace.

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; when it shall hail, coming down on the forest… (Isa 32:17-19 KJV)

Peace in the very midst of a devastating storm of evil? Yes. To pursue the God of righteousness inevitably means finding His peace. Regardless of our circumstances. The keeping peace is just there when we have come to God—our loving God—on bended knee with all our cares. That is our responsibility. When we do that, we find ourselves garrisoned in His peace, that is, in the keep of the castle Christ Jesus Himself.

Dear Lord Jesus Christ our king on the throne of David, we pray, keep us in there; keep us in Your keep. It has proven to be true according to Your words, that “in the world you will have tribulation.” To our sorrow we know that to be true. But, then, it must also be true according to your word—and we may prove this also—that since you have overcome the world we may be of good cheer, and in You have peace, the kind of peace the world cannot give. And cannot take away either. We will, then, according to Your words dear Jesus our king, put our trust in You and let not our heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. Amen. (Jn 14:27, 16:33).

 

 

17 responses »

  1. Allan, thanks for drawing-out the meaning of these words in this passage. For me the meaning of, “the increase of His kingdom there shall be no end” keeps growing and His grace and love keeps drawing me to want more of His increase in me. I can see how each trial I go through by His grace brings me to wanting more of HIS Kingdom after it is over and even I invite Him to do whatever it takes. I think that the increase of His kingdom will continue in us the rest of our lives and throughout eternity,

    Love you my brother,
    Michael

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    • Thanks, Michael. The scriptures bear abundant witness to what you have said. “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations” (Ps. 145:13). And this one from Daniel:

      “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 
      And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13,14).

      As wondrous as that is, the thing that lays me on my face–this is holy ground– is that when Daniel asks “one standing by” for the interpretation of the dream/vision he has seen, after it is explained to him he is told: “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever” (Dan. 7:18). That’s quite something. How does this “one standing by” go from “One like a Son of man” to “the saints of the most High”? He says the same thing in verse 27: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” There it is again. “The people of the saints (plural) of the most high…” in the same breath as “all dominions shall serve and obey him (singular).”

      I bring this up with reference to what you said in your comment: “I think that the increase of His kingdom will continue in us the rest of our lives and throughout eternity.” What love is that, Michael. I tremble at that. I never seem able to get over this– and no doubt we are not intended to ever get over this– that the significance of One like a Son of man receiving the everlasting kingdom is that the saints are given that everlasting kingdom. After His death and resurrection the Son of man ascended in the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of days and received a kingdom– on behalf of His own, the saints.

      This means His government and peace, His kingdom, not only being enjoyed by us, but being increased as we impart it to others. “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end upon the thrones of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it and to establish it with justice and righteousness from henceforth even forever.” It is all such a God-sized thing. Who is sufficient for such a thing? I am glad beyond words to read that “The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall perform this.” That’s His part, He will certainly perform it. Our part is to seek Him earnestly for the grace to walk as saints– holy ones– entirely separated unto Him and this high and holy calling.

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      • Allan, thanks for bringing to mind these other supporting verses to what the Spirit has been showing me. You wrote, “What love is that, Michael. I tremble at that. I never seem able to get over this– and no doubt we are not intended to ever get over this– that the significance of One like a Son of man receiving the everlasting kingdom is that the saints are given that everlasting kingdom.” Yes, Allan, what a magnificent love Jesus and the Father have for us and what patience!

        I came to Christ and He set up His abode in me, but at first in my immaturity I saw Him as my “house guest”. He had His room and the rest of the house was mine. But He kept drawing me with His great love and even cleaned up my messes for I was a sloppy housekeeper. As time went on I started to yield a greater place to Him in my house (a good house cleaning brings us a lot of freedom from all that accumulated junk). But the flesh wars against the Spirit and treats Him like an invader because it likes living in a dirty house. At some point I saw that everything He had been doing in my house was for the better even though all this cleaning hurt at the time. I started to allow His kingdom (the place where He has dominion) to increase without kicking against it because I saw Him no longer as a house guest, but as my Husband and I as His beloved bride and he was no longer confined to “His room” (Sunday services, Bible studies, 10% of my earnings, a half hour devotional and prayer each morning, etc).

        Like any marriage, the fun of the initial honeymoon has to end and the real work begins and it takes many years to truly become ONE and harmoniously in love and that is still going on in me (I think where we are in our earthly marriages might be a barometer of where we really are in our Christian maturity). This is what I mean in that He has been showing me about the “increase of His government.” It has been without end and I think that we will continue to grow into an ever increasing love bound relationship with Jesus, the Father and the saints for all eternity. What an adventure! The heavens and the earth will pass away, but His government will continue to grow in the Father’s house and in our hearts because of His irresistible love.

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        • Indeed, Michael, the Paraclete comes in, not as a “house guest,” but as Lord of the house. “Know ye not,” writes Paul, “that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19). This is our stand regarding “the flesh” that wants to maintain lordship over the body. In your comment you wrote of that– “the flesh wars against the Spirit”– attempting to prevent us from doing what the Spirit would have us do. The encouraging thing is that the opposite is also true, and this is the very context that Paul has in mind in Galatians. “This I say, then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that you would” (Gal 5:17). We cannot do the things that we would? Wonderful discovery! That as we abide in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, we are empowered to do the things the Spirit would have us do, and not do the things the flesh would have us do. That is the government of the Spirit in session in our lives.

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          • Thanks for sharing these scriptures, Allan. They home the solution, “Walk after the Spirit” not the flesh. The following verse gives me great hope,

            Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1John 3:2, KJV)

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  2. Anxiety and Fear are indeed ‘intruders,’ which ultimately can only be cast out by the Prince of Peace, so that we may live ‘carelessly’ under his government which will never end. Thank you for this, bro Allan, a truth with which you have obviously lived for many a year.

    The reference to Phil. 4:5-7 is one that has pulled my wife Melanie and myself through many a crisis, including moving house with nowhere to stay until God provided at the very last moment. Including a major health-crisis for each of us. And so I could go on. This promise has proved true on every occasion – how many of my earlier years I personally spent ‘entertaining the intruders’ of Anxiety and Fear, even to the point of total burnout and clinical depression that lasted close on a year. Here I’m writing 28 years later, having gradually learned to rely on this promise, among so many others given to the children of God.

    And of course, Philippi was a Roman garrison city, so that every citizen of that city would have been familiar with the imagery of guards and being guarded. Surely the living God is a guard like no other, over our minds, emotions, choices and destiny. Praise be to God.

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    • Thank you, Erroll, yes, I’ve lived with this truth for many a year, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been a slow learner in this matter. Anxiety and Fear are specters of darkness that have loomed very large at times. I too have “entertained these intruders,” not knowing how to give them the boot. How thankful I am that when I got low grades, and even completely failed at times, my Teacher determined to keep me in class till l fully learned my lessons. I’m still in that class, dear brother. Still learning.

      It appears that our God is very intent upon our learning His peace that passes understanding– in the midst of all that would rob us of it. T. Austin-Sparks has said that our peace is just as strong as the smallest attack upon it that takes it away. I can’t recall what writing this was in; it was about the throne of God, I believe, and a peace that cannot be moved by anything whatsoever. That is, God’s own peace. The peace of the kingdom of God.

      Good point about the Philippians being familiar with the “garrison” image Paul was using. Roman soldiers were the very “wallpaper” of Philippi, so its citizens lived without fear of invading marauders bent on destruction and looting. Keep us guarded like that, dear Lord, let the peace of God be always with us like that, whatever we are doing. Amen.

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  3. Being kept in the keep, I like that picture, too, Allan. Also, your description of this beautiful and peaceful scenery taken out of a children’s storybook, that spoke to me. How we all long for THIS to become true in our days!

    Reading your (paraphrased) quote from T. Austin-Sparks concerning our peace in your response to Erroll above, I tried to find something about it on TAS’ website yet I couldn’t. Instead, I found an explanation from TAS regarding Jesus’ perfect peace which confirms what you said here,

    “Those two words government and peace are one. His government is peace. Peace is His government. Dearly beloved, let this lay hold of us. In vain do we seek peace apart from His government in our lives.”

    The quote from Sparks I found was pasted below (btw, I interchanged the two paragraphs as it made sense to me).

    “The word “peace” in the Greek simply means unity, or concord. It does not mean a quiet state of things. That is perhaps a result, an effect, an issue; but it is not the meaning of the word. Peace is harmony, concord, unity. When He spoke of “My peace” He was not offering them merely a tranquil atmosphere, a quiescent condition, He was offering them a union with Himself similar to His union with the Father, which would mean that the conflict, the unrest, the discord would cease. Peace then is the tranquility of oneness: “That they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:22), – oneness as in the Father and the Son. Rest for Him was the result of a united being; no strain, no inward controversy with God.”

    […]

    “Now note again the nature of the temptations which came to Him. All the temptations which ever came to the Lord Jesus – and they were a great many more than those which He met in the wilderness at the beginning – were intended to make a breach between Himself and His Father. You can trace that in every case as the object, to get in between Him and His Father, to cause Him to act out of correspondence with His Father; to induce Him to move apart, independently, of Himself; to bring about a division to break this unity. That was the Devil’s persistent effort, and if he could have made two where there was one he would have achieved with the Son of Man what he achieved with the first Adam. It was the oneness of His being, by reason of the utter union with the Father, which was at once the object of the enemy’s attack and the ground of His own undisturbed peace.”

    https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002223.html

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    • Hi Susanne, thanks for doing that digging in TAS. I agree that “peace” is primarily “harmony, concord, unity,” and that it is this that effects tranquility of heart. Peace is unity with God– the reconciliation (the one-making) with God that is in Christ Jesus (and nowhere else).

      I’m glad you liked the “picture” of being kept in the keep of the castle. “Keep” is a very powerful word and is used countless times in Scripture. I have come to love Psalm 121 for its repeated use of this one word. The KJV uses “preserve” in two of the places, so I’ve quoted it here from the ASV. I think you’ll love it too:

      A Song of Ascents.
      I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains: From whence shall my help come?
      My help cometh from Jehovah, Who made heaven and earth.
      He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
      Behold, he that keepeth Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.
      Jehovah is thy keeper: Jehovah is thy shade upon thy right hand.
      The sun shall not smite thee by day, Nor the moon by night.
      Jehovah will keep thee from all evil; He will keep thy soul.
      Jehovah will keep thy going out and thy coming in From this time forth and for evermore.

      How encouraging, eh! The psalmist repeats this over and over to make sure we “get it.” Let us believe the inspired word of God, let us put our trust in God our keeper.

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      • Allan, In the :Lord of the Rings,” the final battle was fought against the hoards of evil from inside The Keep. It was a castle built into the side of a great Rock, a cliff. When it looked like the enemy would prevail and all was about to be lost Gandalf and the forces of light came swooping down on the forces of darkness and the battle was won. I see a lot of similarities here in the relentless assault of the enemy upon God’s people in this final hour and the promise of His coming that will put an end to it, giving us the victory as we abide in THE Rock, our Keep.

        “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Matt 7:24-25, ESV2011)

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        • I haven’t got around to watching the Lord of the Rings, Michael, but I like the imagery that it was out from the Keep that they won the battle. That’s something I’ve been thinking about. Being in the Keep Christ Jesus is not just an insular thing for our own benefit. It is not just a defense against evil, a place of retreat, but a Place of offense from whence we war a good warfare.
          But surely the Keep in the Rock is the only Place of safety in the day of the Lord. When many are crying out for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, the meek and lowly are responding to the invitation to “enter into the Rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of His majesty. For the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isa 2:10,11).

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    • Very good comment, Susanne! The peace (unity in the Spirit) and government of Christ among believers is under constant assault and our enemy is always trying to get us to add our fleshly part to what Jesus is doing in and through us (the flesh wars against the Spirit and is unwittingly in league with the devil). The surgery of that sword in His hand that separates the soul’s death grip on our spirits so His Spirit can reign in us is often painful, but it is worth it when we see the “peaceable fruit of His righteousness” growing in our members. Don’t you agree?

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      • Yes, I agree, Michael. The division of soul and spirit is painful. But alas, there is no other way. However, I believe that Jesus sooner or later fulfills His promises as He is God who alone can be trusted to keep every promise given. Our Lord said,

        “Peace I leave with you; MY PEACE I GIVE TO YOU. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (Jn 14:27 ESV – emphasis in caps added)

        How often do we have troubled hearts? 🙄 And how often are we afraid? 🙄 Well, even if we have to wait for some time until we experience the same peace Jesus had due to His oneness with God, there must be a reason why He encouraged us to not be troubled. Wasn’t the Holy Spirit given to us to be(come) our Divine Troubleshooter? 🙄 As for being afraid (or rather not), I love this short verse that is engraved on the figurine on the right side of my computer. There is a woman kneeling over an open Bible and underneath there is one of my favorite verses that reads,

        “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Ps 34:4 ESV)

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    • Thanks for the above, Susanne. Beautiful.

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  4. Yes, very encouraging, Allan, reminds me somehow of Psalm 91:1-13 (ESV), which per se is Messianic. However, God spoke to me through these verses in difficult times when no human being could help any longer.

    “Psalm 91 
    1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
    2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
    3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
    4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
    5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
    6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
    7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
    8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
    9 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.”

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    • He has spoken to me from this psalm as well, Susanne. Especially the last three verses. I’ll add them here, carrying on from where you left off.
      “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. 
      He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 
      With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”
      That is one of my most frequent prayers these days– “Lord, show me Your salvation.” Yes, I know I’m saved. But the writer of Hebrews calls this salvation “so great salvation.” Reveal this salvation to us, dear Lord, in all its fullness. Do it today, for “now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).  

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