More / Book of the Month / Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service




Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday September 4th 2019: Season of Pentecost / Psalm 91 "Escaping the Snares of Temptation"

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.”

            For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

                        and from the deadly pestilence.

            He will cover you with His pinions,

                        and under His wings you will find refuge;

                        His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

            You will not fear the terror of the night,

                        nor the arrow that flies by day,

            nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

                        nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

            A thousand may fall at your side,

                        ten thousand at your right hand,

                        but it will not come near you.

            You will only look with your eyes

                        and see the recompense of the wicked. 

            Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—

                        the Most High, who is my refuge—

            no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

                        no plague come near your tent.

            For He will command His angels concerning You

                        to guard You in all Your ways.

            On their hands they will bear You up,

                        lest You strike Your foot against a stone.

            You will tread on the lion and the adder;

                        the young lion and the serpent You will trample underfoot.

            “Because He holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver Him;

                        I will protect Him, because He knows My name.

            When He calls to Me, I will answer Him;

                        I will be with Him in trouble;

                        I will rescue Him and honour Him.

            With long life I will satisfy Him

                        and show Him My salvation.”

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. As is the case over and over again in the Psalms, the Psalms have a threefold meaning; they apply to the life of the original writer, they apply to your life as a member of the body of Christ, and at their core, at their centre, is Jesus Christ Himself. Today we will look mainly at how Psalm 91 applies to Jesus and then how it applies to you.

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 4First you may recognize a phrase from this Psalm, when the Psalmist says, “He will command His angels concerning You to guard You in all Your ways. On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone,” you may recognize these words from another part of the Bible, from Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, during the temptation of Jesus these words are quoted to Jesus from this Psalm by Satan. The Gospel of Mark gives us a thumbnail sketch of what happened after Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River when, “the Spirit immediately drove [Jesus] out into the wilderness. And [Jesus] was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And He was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to Him.”[1] This Psalm then is a Psalm about rescue in the face of temptation.

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 6Was Satan shadowing Jesus? Was Satan an invisible witness there at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River? Did Satan hear the voice of God the Father from Heaven say, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”[2] A careful reading of Scripture suggests that this is a very real possibility. The Bible talks about how the fallen angel Satan “stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.”[3] In His earliest years Jesus was repeatedly protected from death, from the work of Satan to murder Him. Protected by angels, Jesus’ father was warned by an angel about King Herod who plotted the Christ Childs death so they could slip away to Egypt.[4] St. Peter describes this adversary Satan, the devil, prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,[5] and Jesus later in the Gospel of John describes him as “a murderer from the beginning, [who has] no truth in him.” Jesus says, “When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”[6] With those lies in his mouth, like the fowlers snare in the hand of the bird hunter, Satan followed Jesus into the wilderness to hunt Jesus down, with the sole purpose to capture Jesus, murder Him and devour Him.  

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 1The bird snare is a little loop of string, or light wire, camouflaged and hidden with food as bait. While eating the food the foot of the bird gets entangled in the loop and in the struggle to remove the foot the loop tightens around the foot capturing the bird so it cannot fly away. How perfect the analogy. Jesus who after 40 days in the wilderness without food is like the hungry bird and Satan then is like the fowler, like the bird hunter with his snare setting his traps, baited with food, when he says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” [7] His snare in his second attempt to catch Christ is camouflaged in the very words of Psalm 91 when Satan takes Jesus to the holy city setting Him on the pinnacle of the temple and say, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning You,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’”[8] Then one more time Satan tries to get Jesus’ foot into the snare when on his third attempt he takes Jesus “to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory [saying] to Jesus, “All these I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.”[9]

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 2The bait of the temptation to make food from stones, the snare camouflaged in God’s Word from Psalm 91 and even the trap of worldly glory and earthly kingdoms fail to capture the foot of Jesus and the other words of Psalm 91 come to pass for Jesus when the Psalmist writes how God, “will deliver You from the snare of the fowler,” and why because Jesus is one “who dwells in the shelter of the Most High [Jesus is one who for this reason] will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. [And in confidence, no matter how hungry, no matter how tempted Jesus can say of His heavenly Father, “My refuge and My fortress, My God, in whom I trust.” In the face of temptation, in the face of the snares of the devil with all of Satan’s cleaver camouflage Jesus repeats back to him the Word of God saying, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God,’[10] and, ‘you shall not put the Lord your God to the test,’[11] and then at last, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’”[12]

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 5The nature of Satan and his temptations can be found by studying and praying Psalm 91 keeping Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in mind. Satan quotes this Psalm but doesn’t understand it. Had Satan understood the Psalm and how it applied to Jesus he would have know that his snares of temptations were doomed to fail. They would only succeed if Jesus had lost His faith in His heavenly Father, in the Gospel of John we see Jesus’ relationship with His heavenly Father when He says things like, “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me,”[13] and “as the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love,”[14] and “Whoever hates Me hates My Father also.”[15] This love between the Father and the Son was mutual Jesus’ heavenly Father had conveyed it to Him at His Baptism as I mentioned earlier and Jesus would again hear similar words, as would His disciples Peter, James and John, when the voice of God the Father later at the Mount of Transfiguration said to them, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”[16] And so it was in the wilderness that Satan was made to listen to the beleaguered and hungry voice of Jesus as Jesus rebuffed Satan’s snares and traps with the very Word of God filled with Jesus’ unbreakable trust in His heavenly Father.

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 7Unable to catch Jesus because God His Father had delivered Him from Satan’s snares “the devil left [Jesus], and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him.”[17] That Day Psalm 91 was fulfilled, Jesus’ foot un-trapped by the snare of the fowler instead became the foot of Psalm 91 the foot for which it was said, “You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent You will trample underfoot.” The Gospel of Luke says that “when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from [Jesus] until an opportune time.”[18] Jesus and the Devil would tangle again and again as Jesus cast out demons, healed the sick, and forgave sins until at the cross the foot of Jesus would find itself wrapped up not in the fowler snare but rather in the prophetic words of Scripture from Genesis chapter 3 when God says to that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan,[19] “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”[20]

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 9In the natural world the kind of birds that might be caught by a cleaver hunter’s snare are generally not the kind of bird that would tread, trample, bruise or crush a serpent or lions head underfoot and yet this is what Psalm 91 describes. In light of His temptation into sin in the wilderness and His successful avoidance of, and deliverance from, the snares of the Devil Jesus is like that bird and while He might have looked like one who could be caught His trust in His heavenly Father and the protection He received far exceeded what Satan expected therefore Psalm 91 prophetically describes this help from God like this, “He [that is God] will cover You with His pinions, and under His wings You will find refuge.” Pinions are the outer part of a bird's wing including the flight feathers, so Jesus who is described as a bird is hidden away, protected, and sheltered under the feathers, the wings of His heavenly Father.  Jesus who would later look out over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives as His crucifixion drew near would describe Himself in similar terms saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”[21] Jesus then is the one who is willing to be hidden under His Father’s wings and in return He desires to hide you under His wings.

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 8This then is where you come into the Psalm. Where are we to take refuge in the terror of the night, in the heat of temptation, when the flaming darts and arrows of the evil one[22] fly by day, when the pestilence that stalks in darkness comes upon you, when in the day of trouble destruction finds us even at noonday? Where are we to take refuge? We are to be like ones gathered up under Jesus’ outstretched arms. Like little chicks hidden under the hens wings. Like little birds protected from the fowlers snares. St. James writes, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [Therefore do not face temptations on your own, by your own might or power, you will fail, your foot will be caught in the snare, you will be fooled by Satan’s cleaver camouflage, you will take the bait, rather take St. James’ advice and] submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”[23] Keep also in mind what St. Paul says, “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”[24] The way of escape is trust in God, leaning on His Word and not on your own abilities; this refuge you will find only in Him and Psalm 91 then becomes your prayer of comfort and hope, in Christ Jesus, in the midst of temptations. Where we fail in enduring the temptations and snares of the devil and require rescue from our sin, and forgiveness, there it is that we can rest assured that Jesus did not fail; He did not fall into the tempters snares. He leaned faultlessly on God’s Word and trusted His heavenly Father without fail so the words that round out and end Psalm 91 are truly then words of God the Father about Jesus Christ His Son,

         “Because He holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver Him;

                   I will protect Him, because He knows My name.

          When He calls to Me, I will answer Him;

                   I will be with Him in trouble;

                   I will rescue Him and honour Him.

          With long life I will satisfy Him

                   and show Him My salvation.”

Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 3Escaping the Snares of Temptation - Psalm 91 Sermon, September Prayer Service - Image 10And so it is that when Jesus later died with His trust in His heavenly Father at the cross of Good Friday, God the Father even there rescued His Son from death and the grave when on the third day, that first Easter, God the Father raised His dead Son Jesus from the dead;[25] You dear Christian have this same rescue from death and the grave as a guarantee in your baptism into Jesus,[26] we confess this in the Apostles Creed. For the sake of Jesus on That Day which is to come, when your body is raised up from the snares of death, and the temptations and snares of Satan are burnt up in fire never to catch your foot again, on That Day, the Day of Resurrection, “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place … no evil shall be allowed to befall you [ever again, and] no plague come near your tent,” on That Day Psalm 91 will come to perfect completion and you “shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever,”[27] never to face the temptation to sin again. In the mean time pray Psalm 91 and remember your escape from the tempting snares of Satan is God’s Word and trust in Him, therefore turn your eyes to Jesus in all circumstances, in all times of temptation. Amen.

Let us pray:

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.


[1] Mark 1:12–13
[2] Matthew 3:17
[3] Revelation 12:4
[4] Matthew 2:13
[5] 1 Peter 5:8
[6] John 8:44
[7] Matthew 4:3
[8] Matthew 4:6
[9] Matthew 4:8-9
[10] Matthew 4:4
[11] Matthew 4:7
[12] Matthew 4:10
[13] John 14:11
[14] John 15:9
[15] John 15:23
[16] Matthew 17:5
[17] Matthew 4:11
[18] Luke 4:13
[19] Revelation 20:2
[20] Genesis 3:15
[21] Matthew 23:37
[22] Ephesians 6:16
[23] James 4:6–7
[24] 1 Corinthians 10:12–13
[25] Galatians 1:1, Romans 6:4
[26] Romans 6:5
[27] Psalm 23:6


Comments