He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
There are two very important words in this verse: dwell and abide. The word dwell in Hebrew is used for a lot of words. It can be translated as some form of inhabit, sit, stay, remain, and even married. Do you get the impression that dwelling in the shelter of the Most High is a place where not only do you want to stay, but it is a place where you are welcome. And it is a place that is close, maybe even home.
And though the Hebrew word for abide doesn’t have quite so many definitions or appearances in the OT, some of its translations are spend the night, abide, and lodge. There is within its definitions an aspect of rest. So, abiding also gives you a sense of a place where you can find rest.
The word shelter can also be a hiding place or a secret place. The same word appears in Psalm 32, which you may recognize: You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. (v.7) So now we see the LORD God welcoming us in a place of safety, a place known only by Him.
The word shadow can also mean protection or shade. It is important to note, as we read in James, Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. You see, there is no shadow with in God, it is not part of his nature; but He certainly can cast a very long shadow, and has been known to use darkness, as seen in Psalm 18: He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. (v.9)
I’ve thrown a lot more definitions at you than I typically do; but I want you to understand what it means to dwell and abide with the Most High. It is a place of rest and safety. It is a place where you are welcome and you can call home. And most importantly, He is there.
There’s one more aspect to the word abide that I want you to see. We find it in part of Christ’s teaching to His disciples at the Last Supper:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
From this passage, we learn that abiding in Christ is a living, organic, intimate condition. In the Greek definitions, you still get the aspect of resting, remaining, staying, and even being held. But it also has the meaning of standing fast in a battle, holding your position. Understand that home is not a static place. If you abide in Christ, He is your home. Then you can join with the psalmist in the very next verse of Psalm 91: “You are my fortress, my place of safety; you are my God, and I trust you.”.