Psalm 91: 1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
In American football, there is a term called “the pocket”. This refers to the area of protection that a quarterback has after the ball is snapped to him. The pocket describes five men (offensive linesmen) who protect their leader from the oncoming defensive linesmen. The defensive linesmen will push and attack head odd and from the sides and you generally see what once was a straight line, turn into a horseshoe shaped line of opposing players pushing with all their might – the one team desperately trying to reach and tackle the quarterback, the other team straining to keep a wall of protection around him. As long as the line is not penetrated, the quarterback can “step up in the pocket” (that space within the horseshoe) and have time to survey the field for an open receiver to whom he can throw the ball.
It is a really impressive thing to watch when a team has a strong offensive line and to observe the pocket form around the quarterback. In the recent era, particularly when Tom Brady was with the New England Patriots, he certainly benefitted from a dominant offensive line. While talented, it would have been impossible for Brady to enjoy success without the time his offensive line provided. I once read a www.bleacherreport.com article entitled: Super Bowl Shield: Ranking the Top Offensive Lines in Super Bowl History (Jan. 27, 2016) where the 1972 Miami Dolphins had the best ever. This is not surprising as they continue to be the only undefeated team (regular season and playoffs) in the history of the NFL (17-0). To support arguments for their dominance, the offensive line guarded two separate quarterbacks over the season: Bob Griese and Earl Morrall (after Griese was injured), and they still remained undefeated.
This picture of the pocket came to mind as I heard a preacher speak about Psalm 91. When you read this chapter, you can easily visualize a strong fortified castle. The author uses the words refuge, shelter, shield and fortress. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91: 1-2).
The message is clear by the end of this chapter, if we choose to remain under the covering of our Lord, we are covered by his protection; we have a spiritual shield. However, we have the option of walking out from that covering, an option not to “dwell in the shelter of the Most High”. But why would we do that?
It is a very reasonable question to ask why we would leave God’s covering. It seems counterintuitive that followers of Christ would leave the covering of God, but it happens all the time. Maybe it is because there are times where it seems rather tough inside the fortress where we feel the giants closing in on us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4: 8-9). Or perhaps the fortress is not what we would have designed it to look like, but for whatever reason we choose to turn our faces from God for a time. The grave danger, however, is that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8b). Turn back to God and come back to his covering before your lives and others around you are attacked. “Step up into the pocket”.