I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them. Psalm 34:1-7 ESV
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints. Proverbs 2:6-8 ESV
There was once a time in the United States in some places where black and white young people weren’t allowed to go to the same school. Black students were kept out of the white schools, which had more money to buy better books and to pay better teachers. This changed when laws were passed to make schools open to all people. In 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas, nine black young people enrolled in a high school that had only been open to whites. Many people were upset and scared about this and a huge angry crowd gathered to keep these young people from going into the school. The nine students entered their school surrounded by federal troops. These servicemen encircled the students and kept them safe.
Psalm 34 says that the angel of the Lord encamps around people who fear God. To fear God means to respect him and to want to serve and obey him. God’s people face trouble and danger, and they might sometimes feel as if they are beaten. But looking to God gives us hope and strength, because we can be sure that God knows what we are facing and is there to help us. Instead of sad, hopeless faces, God gives us faces that are radiant and shine with his joy. When we hear that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, we might see a picture of an army surrounding and shielding people who need protection. But since this psalm only talks about one angel, we picture a huge angel with his arms surrounding God’s people, protecting and helping them.
Angels are God’s messengers, and the greatest messenger God ever sent is Jesus, his own Son. Jesus is with us all the time, surrounding us with his love and care and helping us when we have trouble. Our worst trouble is sin and death, but even in our worst problems Jesus surrounds us with his love. He showed us that love when he died on the cross to win life and forgiveness for us. He covers our sins with his forgiveness and protects us from death and hell. We are safe with Jesus encamped around us.
Dear Jesus, thank you for surrounding us and saving us from sin and death and all our troubles. Amen.