Psalm 91 is incredible: “You will not fear the terror of the night… no evil shall be allowed to befall you… On their hands (the angels) will bear you up lest you strike your foot against a stone… the serpent you will trample underfoot.”
Ancient Hebrews used to recite this Psalm as a weapon against the Devil.
Psalm 91 is incredible, but is it true?
It doesn’t seem to be true for us, or for Jesus.
Liberals tend to say, “It’s not literally true, but we should prove it to be true with snake-bite kits and hospitals.”
Conservatives tend to say, “It is literally true. And we can prove it to be true with faith.” Some even pick up poisonous serpents to prove it.
In Matthew chapter 4, the ancient serpent quotes Psalm 91 to Jesus, just when it would seem to be least true. After the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness and he is starving, the Devil quotes this very Psalm that the Jews would quote to ward off the Devil. Evil certainly appears to “befall him”; the Devil puts Jesus to the test.
The Devil says, “IF you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread… IF you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from the temple, for it is written, ‘…on their hands the angels will bear you up.’”
The Devil says, “IF” you are the Son of God, prove it.
But for Jesus, there is no “IF.”
Just before the Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the heavens opened to him, and a voice declared, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus heard that before doing anything to earn that, justify that, or prove that.
And now he believes that—that Word. He feeds on it like manna.
For Jesus, there is no “IF” and so, Jesus has nothing to prove.
It’s as if he has no “ego,” and certainly no “ego needs.”
For Jesus there is no “IF,” about the Word he heard from the opened heaven.
And there appears to be no “IF” about the Word he hears in Psalm 91.
Jesus does not say what liberals say: “Well, clearly Psalm 91 was written by an overenthusiastic, Bronze Age worshipper who didn’t comprehend the depths of the human existential crisis.”
But Jesus also does not say what conservatives so often say: “It’s true and I’ll prove it! I’ll wind up some faith, heal the sick, and pick up snakes.”
After Satan tempts and tests Jesus with, basically, religion—providing bread for the hungry, miracles for the doubters, and a congregation the size of the world—Jesus quotes Scripture back to Satan, saying, “It is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Scripture attests, and we should all know, that there is one thing that cannot be put to the test, and that’s the thing we test everything with: The Truth.
You can’t even say “If,” if you don’t have faith that Truth exists, or Existence is true.
Scripture testifies that God’s name is “I am that I am.”
God is Existence, and his Word is Truth.
Scripture records the Word of God, so if we ask, “Am I hearing the Word of God in Scripture?” we’re asking a question that can’t simply be answered by the empirical method.
And if we ask, “Is the man Jesus actually the Word of God in human flesh?” we’re asking a question that can’t simply be answered by putting Jesus to the test.
The Word of God IS God and upholds all things; so if we could put God’s Word to the test, the sky would grow black and creation would fail.
And if we put “the man” Jesus to the test, it wouldn’t answer the question.
At best it would only show that we couldn’t provide the answer—we would’ve just crucified the answer.
Well anyway, Jesus resisted the temptation in the wilderness.
Where the first Adam failed, the last Adam conquered.
And then, Psalm 91 appeared to happen… until one Friday night, three years later, when it appeared to no longer happen.
The man Jesus, allowed us to put him to the test.
The sky grew black, the earth shook, creation failed, but Love didn’t fail.
Then man Jesus died, as he delivered up his Spirit—Eternal Life.
Then God raised that man in a new body… even your body. We are his body.
When we cry “Abba Father,” it is his Spirit, bearing witness with our Spirit that we are children of God. It is Faith.
It can’t simply be put to some sort of empirical test, for with it, reality is tested.
And with it, you will step on the head of the ancient serpent.
We tested God, but I think he was testing us. And giving us the answer.
Faith within you is Christ Jesus rising within you.
It comes as revelation and manifests as worship—that is Faith in our Father, who is Love.
“Is the Word of Love true?”
That’s not a question that we can answer with any test administered by us.
But it is a question that God is answering, and the answer manifests as us.
The Devil quotes the Bible to justify himself. He is the Father of Lies.
Jesus quotes the Bible because He is justified. And you are his Body.
Look at the Good and the Life hanging on the tree in the garden.
If you take “knowledge of the Good,” if you take his “Life” to justify yourself and test all things, everything dies.
But if you receive his Life as the Good Gift that it is, you will have been tested, and everything lives.
Perhaps we are all being tested in this wilderness world.
And God is giving us the answer: His Word.
He is the one thing that cannot be tested, for he is the test of all things.
He is the Judgment of God. He is Truth in Love.
He is the Father’s Word. He is the Promise.
“You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased… No ‘IF’”