Psalm 91:11-12: Angels Unaware; Not Them, Us

The more you traverse the text of Scripture, the more the angels fly forth from its pages.  The book of Judges alone mentions angels some 20 times.  Read through the Psalms with a careful eye, and you will find them in more places than imagined. 

For example, Psalm 8 informs we are created a little lower than the angels.  Another, Psalm 103, tells us they do God’s bidding, which is, as Psalm 91 reveals, to shield us from harm.  From Psalm 35, these prodigious warriors defeat our enemies, and Psalm 148 urges us to sing God’s praises because of them.  Impressive in power, they also surround God’s throne, singing His glories, and carrying out His commands. 

Both righteous and wicked angels exist, and both are formidable.  A single angel killed 185,000 soldiers in Sennacherib’s army, rescuing Israel from its evil intentions.  In another place and time, an evil angel destroyed Job’s property and took away his family.  After Daniel wound up in a pit of hungry lions, because he refused to pray to some false god in a foreign land, angels came to close their mouths.  To preserve Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three saints of old, one angel entered a burning furnace, resembling “a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25).

Today, our Old-Testament reading gives us reason to exalt our gracious God, including His oath to charge His sacred angels to safeguard and keep us.  Without fail, day or night, without spotting or noticing them, they are with us at every turn. 

These defenders deter countless perils in the night.  Like a wall, they ward off advancing danger.  How many times, did you escape harm?  A careless driver tailed you, crisscrossing lanes in traffic, without checking the road. 

Ponder the possible times God shunted a disaster.  In foolishness, we wandered into physical or mortal danger, threatening us above our ability.  Holy angels interceded as our protectors, stepping in at God’s behest.  By divine mandate, they keep us from some unforeseen calamity, from claiming us before our time.

How about when we are walking in God’s ways and staying close to Him?  In these situations, His angels still accompany us.  Why?  So, we do not so much as trip our toes upon any stone, no matter the sickness, affliction, or ache we experience. 

In ways we cannot detect, God is behind the scene.  Every moment, He is directing trillions of events for our eternal benefit, using His devoted angels, bringing His will for you into being.  No pain or loss will intrude into your life because He forgot about His promises.  No, angels become His appointed means, through which we come to rely on Him in every circumstance of life.  Yes, God assures us of this and does not lie. 

Why should we be grateful?  In part, based on the achievements of His faithful angels, beyond all our capacity to count.  Still, we must not be remiss to cite a few, lest we should forget or neglect them.  Consider how startling that God directs His holy beings to uphold and protect us, we descendants of unholy stock.  The angels embody virtue and strength, but not a drop of self-interest or arrogance governs their actions. 

In our way of thinking, angels should despise us since our failures are so many, none of which remains hidden to them.  Should they not fill with disgust when they witness how often we fall, risking danger to body and soul?  Somehow, they don’t give up on us, turn away, and leave us to our own devices. 

No, this is not their way.  The work, into which God sends His numerous angels, neither damages their holiness nor gives them any cause to complain.  In every moment, they stand as sentinels so “you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Your loving Father above instructs these heaven-born princes to serve us, though we are but breathing dust and ashes, ailing and dying mortals.  Rare is the earthly ruler who will act in such a way, to send his most noble and formidable warriors to fight for the corrupt, foolish, and the fallen.  Most think such an act is a squandering of resources, taking from others who can benefit better. 

No, this perception is incomplete, for the Apostle John teaches, “What love the Father bestows on us, calling us his children” (1 John 3:1)!  Every one of God’s actions shows Him constant in generosity, untiring in love, supplying more than we can absorb or fathom.  With compassion and kindness beyond measure, He sends these untainted, steadfast soldiers to defend us, regardless of how feeble and fragile we may be. 

On this day, we thank God for all the love He lavishes on us, protecting His people by His ever-watchful angels, His guardians for us.  Praise and acknowledge Him, for what these trusty angels do at His command, they do for Him.  Whatever they accomplish for us, they do because they want to, pleased that God delights in such deeds.

In Luke’s Gospel, we learn of their joy when something serves our salvation.  On the night of Jesus’ birth, they formed into a celestial choir, singing of our Savior’s entrance into this world.  The foretold Messiah descended from heaven for a while, lowering Himself below His created angels, all to release us from Satan’s clutches. 

Oh, they understand well that what Jesus came to do will cause enormous suffering for Him.  Still, they sing of the One they love, worship, and adore.  Unbounded joy stirs within them, for Jesus chose to be born as a human to restore us.  For them, this is reason enough, for our Father’s will is their delight.  How marvelous and extraordinary.  Oh, if only the Lord’s desires also shaped and ordered our wants and wishes!

In their activity, we spot what we discover so much of in the Bible.  Often, God will bind the high and mighty to the helpless and humble.  The mighty angels exemplify this, always beholding the face of God above.  Still, they guard and shelter us, frail and struggling sinners.  Here’s the craziest part of all—they do this despite how seldom we turn our faces toward God, as we yearn for the corrupted dust of this fallen creation.

These ceaseless spirits surround the Father’s throne.  Able to multitask, they attend to us, to the last second of our death, the moment, which proves how weak and infirm we are.  Not yet done with their sacred calling, these dignified attendants enfold our souls and take us to the waiting embrace of Jesus in heaven (Luke 16:22).  So, they next to us, await the resurrection of the body, the fulfillment of our redemption.

Once we are home in eternity, we will encounter these wondrous protectors first-hand, joining them in the unveiled glory of our Lord, and savoring God’s presence!  To celebrate with those who guarded us in such love will be astounding.  Though we may not discern all their doings, let us not fail to appreciate God, by marveling at their work.

With God as our Maker, we can honor everything He made, including angels.  For when we do, we are rejoicing in the One who created all things.  Still, we must never worship any part of creation, only the Creator.  To worship anything else is idolatry since saving us required something beyond any creatures’ capabilities.  Only the One from eternity’s throne, Christ Jesus, can save, who is above all the angels.  To rescue us, He descended to us we, who in our fallen state, are inferior to the angels. 

Detect how God ordered everything at His Son’s birth.  First, He dispatches His angel, Gabriel, to tell a young virgin she will become the mother of our incarnate God.  Though what the angel and the mother do is nothing trivial, their efforts are secondary.  Both are previews, supporting God’s grand plan of our restoration, for what follows is the central event of human history.  The Son, Jesus, breaks into the brutal bite of a fallen world, opening for us God’s loving and forgiving compassion. 

Still, how can we not honor them, both Mary and all God’s angels?  Without them, salvation remains an unfilled promise.  Nevertheless, Gabriel and Mary can never crush the dragon and all his host.  Only God’s Son can, who died the death of a grim cross to conquer Satan and his many minions.  This Vanquisher, Jesus, started from His magnificent and eternal throne, choosing to become man, all to open heaven’s throne room for us.

This day, the Church recognizes the work of angels.  Why does this matter?  So we don’t disrespect God, their Creator.  For when we are indifferent to what God does and how, in this case, using angels, we find ourselves disparaging Him.  Realize, faith never creates a false dichotomy, pitting something God accomplishes against how He achieves this.  For when we refuse to recognize and honor the ways God chooses to do something, we also dishonor Him.

So, here we are, thanking God, who protects and works through all for our everlasting welfare.  Some of this, He does by sending His angels, ensuring nothing outside of yourself can steal you from Him.  Thank God for His angelic presence and protection. 

Through angels, created creatures every one, we come to realize God uses the things His creation to bring us into His divine deliverance.  Didn’t Jesus wear the robe of created flesh to redeem us?  Yes!  In the same way, God delivers His saving graces to us, using the created things He selects: The preached Word, water, bread and wine. 

Never neglect the angels.  To do so is to misunderstand how Your God saves you.  Amen.

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