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  • Brent Nelson

Known, Held, and Called (Psalm 91:14-16)

"Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. ¹⁵When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. ¹⁶With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." —Psalm 91:14-16

The sheer mass of God’s promises overwhelms. In this passage, He makes eight promises in one paragraph, pledging to deliver, protect, answer, be with us, rescue and honor us, and satisfy us and show us His salvation. God’s love moves Him not to negotiate arduous contracts with his beloved, but joyfully commit to lavish and extravagant promises!

We can tell no contract is in view because of what He asks of us. His expectations are three: we must hold fast to Him in love, know His name, and call to Him in trouble. I take this to mean that when I know God in the fullness of His glorious attributes, then I will love Him with a steadfast love. My confidence in His love mingles with the paucity of my strength, springing forth in a deep cry for salvation. He gets the acclaim, I get the acquittal. He gets the glory, I get the rescue.

You might ask, aren't knowing him, holding fast, and calling on Him works we must contribute to our salvation? If you mean works as things God lacks till we add them, then no. But if you mean necessary works God both requires and supplies, then yes! We only contribute what He has already given.

We know Him only because He knew us first and enabled our knowing Him. As Galatians 4:8-9 says, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now ... you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God..." We know God because He knew us first—that empowers our knowing him.

We hold fast in love, not by our strength or virtue, but because He holds fast to us. “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).

We call upon Him because He has called us first: “To those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). We only call on Him for salvation because He has already called us to salvation.

To whom are these great promises made? Most simply it is to the one who trusts in God: “I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’” (Psalm 91:2). As you trust in Him, like apples from a strong tree, you will know him more clearly, love him more deeply, and call on him more freely. The root of every good fruit is trust in God.

Why did Satan seek to tempt Christ with verses 11-12 of this Psalm? Because he knew that Jesus Christ is God. Christ’s refusal to put His Father to the test shows His obedience is perfect. His obedience is credited to us if we are in him.

Know God then, in the face of Christ, because in Christ you are fully known. Hold fast in love to Christ because it is God’s love in Christ that holds you fast. Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for in Christ you have been called.


For Reflection

  1. What signs in your life tell you God holds you fast?

  2. How are you learning more and more about God’s name, especially about Jesus?

  3. What things keep you from calling on the Lord when you feel troubled?

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