Camping With An Angel
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him [with awe-inspired reverence and worship Him with obedience], And He rescues [each of] them.
The fear of God is a strange term in the ears of many modern people. In ancient times, kings ruled with absolute sovereignty. They could bestow riches or remove someone’s cranium on a whim. Their supreme power and authority made people afraid of them- and rightly so! With God, though, we don’t have to worry about capricious actions. His infinite wisdom, mercy, and justice always guide His actions.
Ah, justice. That’s the problem. God isn’t a Santa Claus who only gives us good gifts. He is a strong, loving Father who requires loyalty from His children. If we are loyal, God pulls out all the stops to bless us and encourage us. He also continues to strengthen our relationship with Him when we are faced with difficult situations so that our roots go down deep into Him.
In this wonderful psalm, David describes a miraculous deliverance when it looked as though he was going to be killed. He ascribed God’s protection to an angel’s presence camping around him. Angels aren’t chubby little babies with cute wings and bare bottoms. When we see them in the Scriptures, they are terrifying creatures who inspire awe! They are the ones who camp out with you and me all day every day. They act in concert with God’s purposes to direct us an provide for us.
Today, realize that you are camping out with an angel.
When God contemplates some great work, He begins it by the hand of some poor, weak, human creature, to whom He afterwards gives aid, so that enemies who seek to obstruct it are overcome.
Our text opens with the words, “the angel of the Lord encamps.” What power there is in those words for every child of God. Those powerful creatures, angels, who have been with God since before the creation of humans, are dispatched by our Heavenly Father to surround and protect us at all times. I realize that we have assigned other attributes to angels that are myths rather than biblical truths. They are not nor have they ever been human and humans don’t become angels. They aren’t cute little creatures with bows and arrows. That’s Greek mythology. The angels of heaven are mighty messengers and powerful warriors who stand ready to carry out God’s orders. They have been screened and vetted and never will they do anything contrary to the will of God.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you know and have understanding. When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God (angels) shouted for joy?
Corresponding to that [rescue through the flood], baptism [which is an expression of a believer’s new life in Christ] now saves you, not by removing dirt from the body, but by an appeal to God for a good (clear) conscience, [demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God [that is, the place of honor and authority], with [all] angels and authorities and powers made subservient to Him.
1 Peter 3:21-22
10 “See that you do not despise or think less of one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven [are in the presence of and] continually look upon the face of My Father who is in heaven.
Whether or not we each have a guardian angel specifically assigned to us is unclear but we can know that when there is a need God sends angels to assist us. We read that an angel brought food to Elijah when he was hiding in the cave. Paul declared an angel of the Lord stood by him on the ship and proclaimed that none aboard would perish. We read that an angel freed Peter from prison. And we also read that angels came and ministered to Christ before the crucifixion. And we also know that the women who came to anoint Jesus’ body for burial met and spoke with an angel.
What amazing and powerful helpers God has given us. And we dare not forget the angels who appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth of Christ.
The condition to having these mighty assistants from heaven is that we are those “who fear the Lord.” This is not the same as being afraid of the Lord. Indeed we have no reason to be afraid for God Himself often opens the meeting with humans with the words, “Be not afraid.” What the psalm is saying is when we begin to know the mighty power of God, the awesome Creator of all that exist, the Supreme Ruler of the universe, the strongest of the strong, and the One whose love is far beyond human ability, there comes a sense of deep reverence and awe into our being. David captures this when he pens the words, “when I see all that you have created, the wonders of heaven and earth, who am I that you would take notice.”
Our text says that those who are so filled with awe that their response of worship and praise moves God to dispatch angels on their behalf. While we may not be able to withstand pressure of the devil, indeed we are no match for him alone, we can rest assured that we do not war against him alone. Remember Daniel’s response to the king’s query, “The Lord sent an angel and he shut the mouths of the lions.” Or maybe to recollect the story of Elisha being surrounded by the Syrian army and when his servant cried out in fear asked the Lord to open his eyes to see. The servant saw the army of angels surrounding Elijah and the Syrians were struck blind.
It’s easy to become so focused on this world and it’s tangibles that even we who are Christians; we who have read the stories of the Bible often forget that there is an unseen spirit realm where angels operate. Many of our battles take place on a spiritual as Gabriel told Daniel and so perhaps as Elisha’s servant we might ask God to help us see the help that He gives us daily.
Let me sum up our assets. For us we have the Father who loved us so that He gave up His Son for us. We have the Son who gave up His life for us. We have the Holy Spirit that has been given as a gift to us. And we have 2/3 of all of the angels that were created working for our good. Against us we have the devil- a fallen angel. Working with him are the 1/3 of the angels who rebelled against God with him. And we have demons-disembodied spirits who constantly plague us and try to control us. Now I don’t know about you but when I stack all this up, it seems to me that we can’t lose. So if you feel surrounded by trouble or oppressed by the devil, look up and know that as a beloved child of God you are encamped around by the angels of the Lord. And God never loses a battle.
Dr. John Thompson