You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, 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, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or 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 punishment of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge 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, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.
I can hear the opening chords, as I begin to read aloud Psalm 91, the song On Eagle’s Wings by Michael Joncas accompanies. As the psalm speaks to us, of comfort and care, so too does this song bringing this ancient hymn to speak of faith in the present. A song, I trained in singing as I hoped to join a more elite choir in High School, spoke to me then and continues to hold this hymn close to my heart. The chorus of the song, “And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand,’ builds from verse 4. While all of verses are direct quotes of the rest of the song, it brings comfort. The psalm speaks to the terrors and fears out there in the world, while may be of concern for us, are not of God. The Lord is our refuge, our strenght. And as the Psalm turns from addressing You to speak directly from God, I will deliver. God speaks directly. God speaks unwaveringly and unflinchingly in the face of all dangers, I will rescue them.
My final memory around this Psalm and the song, On Eagle’s Wings was the silence at a grandmother’s funeral and stepping forward to sing this song again. This song and psalm is a refuge in the face of death as well.
Sheltering Lord, our place of safety in the face of dangers and fears that are so real in the world, even death, may we truly find rest under your wings. May your words of love, protection and rescue truly be where we trust. Raise us up and allow us to shine that hope out into the world, Amen.