The Secret Place of the Most High
Rev. Lily Lim | On 21, Feb 2019
Psalm 91:1 (KJV)- “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Last week, the Department of Health, Philippines, declared MEASLES OUTBREAK in Metro Manila, other areas of Luzon and Visayas, with Western Visayas (Region 6) ranking fourth in measles incidences.
In times like this, we need Psalms 91 because it is the best preservative in times of outbreak and in truth, it is a heavenly medicine against plagues and pests. But can all claim this heavenly medicine?
Psalms 91 is believed to be written by Moses. It is a Psalms about the absolute protection of God for his people. People love to read Psalms 91 but it starts with a powerful statement that describes WHOM this psalm applies to. If you want to enjoy God’s protection like it was described in Psalms 91, then you must understand the deeper meaning of this powerful chapter!
Can all believers get to enjoy the promise of God’s protection mentioned in Psalms 91? The study of Psalms 91 will show you that the promises outlined in this chapter are conditional. It is given only to those who dwell in the secret place of God. And that will be my title for the sermon this morning – THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH.
I would like to share about 5 Things about this Secret Place:
• Who will God protect?
• What is the secret place of the Most High?
• What does it mean to dwell in this secret place?
• What are the promises to those who dwell in this secret place?
• Jesus – The Owner of this Secret Place
(1) WHO WILL GOD PROTECT?
Psalms 91 starts with the statement, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Psalms 91 starts with the statement, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Many of us are familiar with this verse. However, not all know the deep meaning behind it.
With this opening statement, Psalms 91 makes it clear right from the start whom God will protect.
God protects His people. He will protect those who choose to live with Him and act upon that decision.
While it is true that God can protect anyone whom He wishes, THOSE WHO CONSTANTLY LIVE A LIFE CLOSE TO GOD WILL RECEIVE SPECIAL TREATMENT. They can live in peace, serenity and security because of God’s assurance that they will be protected.
Illustration: The Golden Gate Bridge, located at the entrance of San Francisco Bay, is one of the largest and most spectacular suspension bridges in the world, spanning 8,981 feet through midair. When this world-famous bridge was being constructed, several workmen lost their lives, falling from precariously high positions, two hundred feet above the waters. Consequently, the work was constantly behind schedule. That is, until someone hit upon the idea of building a safety net directly under the construction area. Then, with such security in place, any workmen who fell would not tumble to his death but would be caught by the net.
So, a giant safety net was made of stout, sturdy cord and swung under the construction work – the first time in the history of major construction that such a net was used. The cost for the net was one hundred thousand dollars, a staggering figure in those post-depression days. But the effect was both immediate and noticeable. The work suddenly proceeded at a much faster rate because the workmen knew that if they did slip, the net would catch them and their lives would be spared.
Application: This was the same effect that God’s protection had upon the Psalmist, as recorded in Psalm 91. But his security was not beneath him; it was above him. God himself was his security, the one who would protect him from the harm that surrounded him. He would rest under the shadow of the Almighty as God, the Most High would be his refuge and fortress. Under this Sovereign security, the psalmist could move forward in his life with great confidence and efficiency. This psalms vividly describes God’s continuous sovereign protection of his people from their many threatening dangers and alarming terrors but it is conditioned upon his people’s willingness to DWELL IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH.
(2) WHAT IS THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH?
God will not just shelter His people in the open court or in the part of the house where people can easily come and go. But God will shelter His people in the SECRET PLACE.
What then is this secret place?
• It is a private and reserved place
God will shelter His people in a private and reserved place. It would be a place where God, Himself, withdraw to be alone. God is willing to share with His people even the most private and exclusive part of His dwelling area.
• It is a difficult place to find
It is a place not known to most people. The place is so HIDDEN that it takes a lot of effort, energy and sacrifice for a person to find it. This secret place isn’t reserved for lazy, wicked and apathetic people. It isn’t for the people who don’t see the value of being alone with their Creator. After all, would God allow someone to be part of His secret place if that person doesn’t even respect its Owner?
E.g. Many years ago, I had a full-time staff who worshiped a guest speaker who came to speak at our church. After the service, she approached the speaker to autograph her Bible and that speaker wrote Psalm 91:1 down in her Bible. She was so gleeful to receive this quotation. Sadly, she didn’t do what Psalm 91:1 commanded. She failed to dwell in the secret place of God. She wasn’t willing to pay the price to find this secret place and she even stepped out of our church to pursue her own whims and fancy. She ended up marrying this man who worked at Uncle Tom’s chicken who wasn’t born again. Then the guy went to Manila and then abandoned her. She found another guy who was a drug pusher and addict and the next thing we found out, that guy was imprisoned and she was stranded with a twin. Does Psalm 91:1 work for her? No? This is because she failed to pay the price to find that secret place of the Most High. You may memorize Psalm 91:1 or have a famous man of God scribble it on your book but if you do not make effort, energy and sacrifice to find that secret place, you won’t be protected in your marriage or family.
Therefore, the righteous should exert every effort to find this secret place of the Most High. While searching for this secret place can be difficult, you and I can be assured that once we found it, we can look back and tell ourselves, “It was all worth it.”
• It is place of concealment
Simply put, it is a hiding place.
It is said that Moses wrote Psalm 91 as he dwelt in the SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST GOD, in the “midst of dark cloud” (Exodus 24:18) – a place of sacred and holy CONCEALMENT. The thick clouds are a “hiding place” for him (Job 22:14).
Since God HIDES Himself in this world (Isa 45:15), we must humbly seek His face to enter into the place of His holy concealment in all things.
Application: If God hides himself in this world, then as believers, we need to hide ourselves from the world and go to this secret place to seek Him. It is talking about the need on our part to seek God privately, secretly- hidden away from the clutter and noise of this world.
Are you hiding away from the clutters of this world to seek God? Do you have a secret prayer closet to go to in order to commune with the Most High?
• It is an ascended place
The secret place is an ascended place because the OWNER of this place is GOD THE MOST HIGH.
Now the Hebrew word for GOD THE MOST HIGH is “El Elyon”. The name “Elyon” comes from a root word that means “TO ASCEND”. God is the Great God transcending all other devotions.
The name El Elyon is used four times in the story of Melchizedek in Genesis 4. Abram met Melchizedek after returning home from war and Melchizedek introduced himself as the King of Salem and the Priest of the Most High (El Elyon).
The name “El Elyon” is a title of God as the Supreme One. As the Supreme One, He is superior to all beings, the Creator and Preserver of them, God over all, higher than the highest of angels or men. It identifies God as the sovereign ruler of the universe. Our world may feel like no one is in control but please know that El Elyon has perfect control of all that happens in this world and nothing happens that He does not permit. And this El Elyon is the owner of the secret place.
Application: So, the one who “dwells in the secret place of the Most High” dwells in an ASCENDED PLACE OF REST – being lifted up above the surrounding madness of this fallen world of flux and shadows.
• It is a safe place
The secret place is also known as a “covering”, a “shelter” or a “refuge”. Yes! The secret place is a place of refuge from the storms of the world under the secret of His providence who cares for all his children.
It is like the castle or fortress of His mighty defense, to which His people run to, being pursued by enemies just like a wild animal would run to his hole or den when the hunter pursues it.
Can you see the river fronting the castle in the picture? In the height of the demonic attack against me in 2012, God assured me that as long as I ran to Him to hide in the fortress/castle, no evil shall befall me. To reinforce His protection upon me, God gave me a rhema from Isaiah 33:21, “The LORD will be our Mighty One. He will be like a WIDE RIVER OF PROTECTION that no enemy can cross, that no enemy ship [no matter how stately they may be] can sail upon.” Come to think about it now – Yahweh really ensured that no stately enemies ship could cross over to me to attack or destroy me. He really became my wide river of protection. Glory be to God.
This secret place is guarded by the most powerful and Supreme Being. No one can breach its defenses. Absolutely no one. Therefore, this secret place of the Most High is the SAFEST place in the universe. Can you now see how God protects His people and how His people can live their lives with the incredible confidence in the fact that God shields them from harm? Indeed, if you want someone to protect you, then let it be God.
• It is a place of intimacy and communion
This secret place is like the Holy of Holies which is the secret of His presence. Believers who dwell in this secret place will enjoy intimate communion with El Elyon. Those who seek to enter into the Holy of Holies and dwell there will obtain the rich grace of unusual and continuous communion with God. They will experience the Holy Presence of God where God will make known His secrets to them. They become the possessors of rare and special benefits which are missed by those who follow afar off. To those who seek and dwell in the secret place of the Most, the veil is rent, the mercy seat is revealed, the covering cherubs are manifest and the awful glory of the Most High is apparent.
The secret place of God is His heart, His bosom, where His only begotten Son lies. This is the place where He takes his people into. There, His people are set as a seal and who enjoy intimate communion with him.
• It is the Tabernacle of God
The secret place of the Most High can also refer to the Tabernacle of God- His Church.
Psalms 27:5- For in times of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion [shelter]: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me upon a rock.
The Church in Psalms 27:5 is known as the SECRET OF HIS TABERNACLE.
What is this rock that God says can be found in the secret of His tabernacle? In Song of Solomon 2:14, the church is said to dwell “in the clefts of the rock and in the covert of the cliff”. Do you want to know how God looks at you each time you gather in His tabernacle?
“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely” (Song of Solomon 2:14).
Each time we come to church, we are like the DOVE hiding “in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff [in the hiding place of the mountain crevices.” God looks at us as doves. Dove was a common figure for romantic love in ancient Near Eastern love literature. The emphasis seems to be suggested by His use of the term “my dove.” Doves were often associated with timidity in the ancient world. Being virtually defenseless, they would often take refuge in crevice and cliffs for safety (Jeremiah 48:238). The emphasis on timidity and the need for security is undoubtedly the emphasis here because of the explicitly description of this “dove” hiding in “the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff [hiding places of the mountain crevice.” Fortresses were sometime built in the clefts of the rocks on mountainside because they were inaccessible and therefore is a secure place of safety.
Application: When we come to church, we are coming into the secret of His tabernacle where His presence tabernacles. We are like doves coming to hide from the wind of this world in the cleft of God’s presence, just as doves are hiding in the cleft of the rock. There in “cleft of the rocks”, our Jesus loves to see our face and hear our voices because to Him our voices are very sweet and our faces are lovely. This revelation of the love from Jesus to us can only take place in this secret place of His Tabernacle called the Church.
The Church is a place where the “secrets” of God are revealed through the ministry of the word. It is place where the saints can feel the presence of God and enjoy much communion with Him. If you are in the church, then you are under the special providence, protection and power of God the Almighty.
Application: Why is your life always exposed to the whirlwind of this cruel life? Could it be that you have never taken seriously taking covering or hiding in the secret of His tabernacle? Could it be that you have always been missing church and thus you are no more under His covering?
This secret place is the intimacy of God’s presence. It is our secure and secret communion with Him. By dwelling in this secret place of the Most High, we are like Moses, who was put in the cleft of the rock and covered with God’s hand while His glory passed by (Exodus 33:22).
(3) WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DWELL IN THIS SECRET PLACE?
There is a condition to which the promises of Psalms 91 allude to- they are for those believers who DWELL in the secret place of the Most High.
Notice, the key text says, “He who dwells.” It does NOT say, “He who dwelt” or “He who will dwell.” It is in the PRESENT TENSE. God won’t protect those who stop dwelling with Him or those who don’t make the decision yet to be with Him.
The word “dwells” comes from the Hebrew word yashab, which means to “sit down, stay, settle, remain, inhabit and have one’s abode, tarry or endure.” It implies that DWELLING is………
• A conscious choice
It is something that we decide to do, not out of necessity or grudge but out of a willing heart.
• A constant seeking
Dwelling in the secret place of the Most High means that we constantly seek His love, comfort and protection. God will protect those who want to know Him better and on a deeper level.
• A permanent seeking
It is not seeking God only when you are in emergency. You don’t come to the secret place like you would visit a hotel – touch and go. Rather, it is to build your permanent home in that secret place of God. You rest in God’s presence – symbolized by the word “sit.”
When we make a conscious, constant and permanent choice to seek God and dwell and remain in the secret place of the Most High, it will lead to HIS PROTECTION.
Psalm 91:1 (KJV)- “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide [lodge] under the shadow of the Almighty.”
THE WORD “ABIDE”
The word “abide” is the metaphor of a mother hen who gathers her chicks under her feathers. David prays, “Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me” (Psalms 17:8-9).
The word “abide” also denotes a constant and continuous dwelling of the believers in the assistance and protection of God. That divine help and protection of God is not like a lodge in a garden of cucumbers or in a vineyard which is destroyed in a moment. Nor is it like a tent that is abandoned by the traveler. It is a strong tower, a paternal home, where we spend our life with the best, wealthiest and mightiest of parents.
The word “abide” in Hebrew signifies “he shall pass the night.” It denotes security and rest in time of darkness, temptation and calamities. With God Abraham passed the night, when He foretold to him the affliction of his descendants in Egypt and their deliverance (Genesis 15:12-16). Then also God said to him, “Fear not Abram, I am thy Shield.” And leading him forth he showed him the stars and the sands.
THE WORD “SHADOW”
“Under the shadow of the Almighty” is an expression which implies GREAT NEARNESS. We must walk very close to a companion if we would want to have his shadow fall on us. Can we imagine any expression more perfect in describing the CONSTANT PRESENCE OF GOD with his chosen ones than this – they shall “abide under his shadow”?
In Solomon beautiful allegory, the church in a time of special communion with Christ, says of Him –“I sat down under his shadow with great delight” (Song of Solomon 2:3). Notice the words “sat down”. It denotes “desiring not to leave it but to abide there for ever”.
THE WORD “THE ALMIGHTY”
The Hebrew word is El Shaddai. Shaddai comes from the Hebrew root word shad, which means either “mountain” or “breast”. These are references to the nurturing breasts of God and the goodness of God. When Jacob blessed his sons in Genesis 49:25, he connected the blessings of Shaddai with the breasts and the womb. In Isaiah 66:11, Zion is a “consoling breast” (shad).
“El-Shaddai” therefore means the “All-Sufficient One.” This means God has the sufficiency of happiness in and for Himself. God has the sufficiency of PROVISION for his people. God has the sufficiency of GRACE AND POWER for his own children.
Application: To abide under the shadow of the Almighty God is to have the omnipotent Lord SHIELD us. The more closely we cling to our Almighty Father, the more confident we may be.
Illustration: During the time of the Roman Empire, there was a stag that roamed about in the greatest security just because of a LABEL on its neck – “Touch me not. I belong to Caesar.”
Thus the true servants of God are always safe even among lions, bears, serpents, fire, water, thunder and tempest for all creatures know and reverence the SHADOW OF GOD ALMIGHTY upon us.
The psalmist uses four names of God…..
• “Most High” – El Elyon – The Supreme One – We commune with Him because He is the Most High.
• “Almighty”– El Shaddai – The All-Sufficient One -We rest in Him as the Almighty.
• “LORD” (verse 2 – I will say to the LORD….)- Yahweh – The Covenant Keeping God- We rejoice in Him as our Yahweh
• “God” (verse 2- My refuge, and my fortress and my God)- Elohim – The supreme deity, the strong one, mighty leader- We trust Him as El, the mighty God.
He who chooses to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, shall “abide under the shadow of the Almighty”. There is a condition and a promise attached to it.
The condition – we dwell in the secret place
The promise -the protection of God from verse 9-13.
(4) WHAT ARE THE PROMISES TO THOSE WHO DWELL IN THIS SECRET PLACE?
• Divine Protection
Psalms 91:9-10- Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
“Thy habitation”- It is our duty to be at home in God, to make our choice of him and then to live our life in him as our HABITATION- to converse with him and delight in him and depend upon him. Then this promise of DIVINE PROTECTION shall be upon me.
“There shall be no evil befall thee” means that though trouble or affliction befall us, yet there shall be NO REAL EVIL IN IT, for it shall come from the love of God and shall be sanctified. Trouble and affliction will come but not to hurt us but for our good. Even though for the present, the trouble and affliction are not joyous but grievous, yet in the end, it shall yield good things to our lives. It is not an evil, an only evil but there is a mixture of good in it and a product of good by it.
There shall no evil that will befall US as well as no evil coming near to our DWELLING. No plague shall come near to our house.
The protected person prospers because the Lord is his “refuge” (verse 2) and the “Most High” (v1) his “habitation” (dwelling place). There living in God’s presence (v10), “No evil [distress, calamity] shall befall you.” Moreover, no “plague” [scourge] will “come near your dwelling” [tent]. His family and possessions will be safe as well. By dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, armed with His truth, we cannot be touched by Satan or his minions of evil. He cannot penetrate that secret place, near to God’s heart. He cannot gain advantage over those of us who are now held in Jesus’ hand.
• Angelic Aids
V11-12 – For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
The angels “keep the charge of the Lord their God” and this is the charge they receive from Him. It denotes the great care God takes of the saints in that the angels themselves shall be charged with the saints and employed for them. The charge is to “keep thee in all thy ways”. In amplified version, it reads, “to protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service]. Meaning, as long as we keep to the ways of obedience and service to our Most High, we put ourselves under the angelic protection. But if we go out of this boundary, we put ourselves out of God’s protection. The devil left out this word when he quoted the promise to enforce a temptation, knowing how it made against him.
“To keep thee in all thy ways” means wherever we go (whether there is danger or not), the angels are charged with us, as the servants are with the children.
“They shall bear thee up in their hands” denotes both their great ability and their great affection. They are able to bear up the saints out of the reach of danger, and they do it with all the tenderness and affection just like a nurse carrying the little child in her arms. It is referring to our helplessness and the angels’ helpfulness. The angels are very humble in their ministry to us – they keep the feet of the saints “lest they dash them against a stone”- lest they stumble and fall into sin and trouble.
E.g. John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came, they were amazed to see their attackers leave. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present – but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station.
Application: If we are to see the miracles and angelic sign like this, we must dwell in that secret place of God.
• Triumph over the Demonic Realm
Verse 13- Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall experience victory over all the demonic realm: Treading upon “the lion and the adder” and trampling “the young lion and the dragon”.
In Mark 16:18 (NLT), Jesus promises His people, “They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them.” Paul also promises, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom 16:20). The fact that the devil took these verses in this Psalm, and used them to tempt Jesus is ironic since this same Psalm promises complete protection from the malignant and supernatural evil.
(5) JESUS – THE OWNER OF THIS SECRET PLACE
Jesus is our El-Elyon – The Ascended One – the Resurrected One who overcame all the powers of hell and utterly vanquished death’s power. As the Ascended One, “Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9:24). “Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain [veil] into God’s inner sanctuary [Holy of Holies]. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrew 6:18-20).
By His resurrection, Jesus has ascended into the Holy of Holies – Heaven, the secret place of the Most High. Jesus – our El Elyon, is now the OWNER of this secret place and today, He is calling out to us as His blood-bought disciples to come and “abide” or “dwell” in Him through eating His flesh and drinking of His blood (John 6:56); dwelling in His word (John 8:31); dwelling in Him as branches dwelling or abiding in the vine (John 15:7-8). To dwell in the secret place of the Most High in Psalms 91:1 is to live and remain in Jesus according to John 15:7-8. Our Ascended Jesus has broken through the Holy of Holies- the secret place of God’s presence, tearing the veil between God and sinner and opening this secret door for you and me. We can have access to this secret place of the Most High if we are willing to pay the price to seek and dwell in that secret place.
The secret place of the Most High is a private and reserved place; it is a difficult place to find; it is a place of concealment; it is a ascended place owned by El Elyon; it is a safe place; it is a place of intimacy and communion and it also refers to the Church.
Only those who dwell in this secret place of the Most High- only those who are willing to pay the price to consciously, constantly and permanently seek the face of God in intimate communion and tarry with Him, will be those with the privilege of enjoying the protection of the Almighty God- the Omnipotent One and the All-Sufficient One in the form of Divine protection from evil, Angelic aids from on high and Triumph over the demonic realm.
Are you willing to pay that price? The promises of Psalm 91 are conditioned upon our willingness to dwell in that secret place.
My Testimony: It was in year 2000 that my prayer life took an upturn. That year I purposed in my heart to draw close to God by seeking Him in the secret place of my prayer closet in the wee hours of the night. By the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit, He helped me to master this discipline of “dwelling in the secret place of the Most Hight” consistently for the next decades to come. In 17 February 2001, God gave me a rhema in Isaiah 26:20 –“Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past.” At that time, I was too young to understand the prophetic message behind this rhema. I thought God gave that word to me to commend me of my consistent seeking of His face in the secret place. Little did I know it was a prophetic preparation for the great wrath to come in 2012. And those 12 years of invested time in the secret place of the Most High began to yield huge dividends for me when all evil and demonic forces in 4 different levels were assailed against me and the church in 2012.
Lions in the form of evil people were trying to devour and kill us off from our ministry in Iloilo City. Cobras in the form of character assassination, accusation, lies and slanders were spewing from the mouth of people with the serpentine spirit of betrayal. Young lions in the form of young leaders who used to be under us began to rebel and became ferociously disloyal and upstaging. The dragon, Satan Himself “seemed” to have a hay time causing chaos and instability in our church like the sea monster stirring up storms in the sea. Yet in the midst of all the chaos and the pain, I continued to hide in the secret place of the Most High and subsequently I experienced the “shadow of the Almighty” protecting us from all of them and even giving me the power to tread and trample upon all the demonic forces.
Today, God has restored everything back to its proper order and our ministry now in Iloilo City is doing well. Glory be to God! But I was thinking – Had the Lord not trained me to learn to dwell in the secret place of Most High 12 years ago, I would have been overcome by the evil designs of the devil and the evil people. I would perish and lose this church in Iloilo City. I would even lose my calling.
Though evil befell me, yet due to this abiding in the secret place of God, I see God sanctifying the evil and making it good for me. Our church became a better church as a result of that tempest.
Today, dwelling in the secret place of the Most High is my delight. It is my safety net because of God’s assurance that I will be protected. Today, I dare to attempt big things for God. I dare to be holy. I dare to be obedient. I dare because I know the eternal arms of God will hold me if I fall. Knowing of this divine protection, especially in the face of mounting dangers, as the hidden ones of God, I have courage to move forward with great faith. He is my El Elyon, El Shaddai, My Yahweh and My Elohim. The secret place of God – is worth all my effort!!!
PREACHED AT ETAB 1 ST ENG SV ON 17 FEB 2019