Portraits of Father and Son (Psalm 91:11-13)
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. ¹²On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. ¹³You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. —Psalm 91:11-13
The walls of the Vatican are hung with imposing paintings of former popes. The estates and castles of Europe boast gilded, framed portraits of the celebrated ancestors who lived in them. American corporations salute their founders and CEOs with prominent likenesses mounted in lobbies where they will be seen.
Because God is a Spirit, and because Jesus is in heaven and can’t be seen by us right now on earth, God has also painted portraits using words instead of oils and watercolors. He has put them throughout the whole Bible so we can see and know the God we love. They are striking and unforgettable scenes of Himself and His only begotten Son for us to discover—and then be amazed by them. They are there for us to ponder and memorize so we will never forget Him. (You might want to look up a couple of my favorites to give you an idea of what these pictures look like. Isaiah 6:1-5 and Revelation 5:1-14 are powerful pictures of God.)
Our Fighter Verse passage for this week paints a beautiful picture, one that opens our eyes to the gentle, loving care of God our Father for His Son and those of us who are in Christ through salvation.
When we read it slowly and carefully, our eyes can almost see God the Father speaking to Jesus and telling His Son, “When the time comes to send you to earth, I am going to command my angels to watch over you, to guard you in everything you do, and in every place you go (“all your ways”). The angels will hold you up so that you won’t hurt yourself; you won’t even trip over a stone. In fact, you will be able to tread on the lion and the adder; even a young, powerful lion and a lethal serpent you are going to trample under your foot!”
God’s love and care for His Son is easily seen because He makes sure that His Son knows ahead of time that He will be watching over Jesus every moment. That is loving. The Father promises Jesus that He will be protected and cared for, and that the Father will give Him the power to overcome any wild animals that might attack Him. That is loving. Our picture of God the Father is of a loving, powerful, careful protector.
But wait, look again. There is another picture here in these same verses, like a picture inside the picture of the Father being protective and loving to the Lord. This hidden picture is of Jesus—but it is not a picture of Jesus trampling a snake or a lion with His physical foot.
Let’s look at the words of Scripture very closely. Why do you think that God, when He was writing these verses, chose the lion and the serpent as animals that would harm Jesus? Do you remember in the garden of Eden when Satan entered into a serpent? And do you remember that the Scripture says that Satan is like a lion, looking for people to devour? The lion and the adder are word pictures of Satan!
God is telling Jesus not only that He will have power over animals that attack, but He is promising Jesus protection against Satan himself. When God tells Jesus that He will trample the lion and serpent under His feet, He is also promising that Jesus will certainly be victorious over Satan. We know that this is so because God says the same thing about Jesus in Psalm 8:5b-6, “Yet you have…crowned Him with glory and honor. You have given Him dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet” (emphasis added).
Because we can understand what God meant in our verse—that the lion and the serpent really mean Satan, we can see the hidden picture. We see the Son of God standing tall and powerful in our verses. Even though it takes super-human strength to kill a lion or a dangerous serpent, Jesus is much more powerful than just being able to tread down a lion or a snake. Jesus is mighty and able to tread down and destroy all the power of Satan himself. At the beginning of His ministry, when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus overpowered Satan in His thinking and reasoning with him. But at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus trampled Satan all the way down when He was on the cross. When Jesus was dying and looked most defeated, He was really at the greatest point of His victory over Satan, and evil and death. It is there that God put His enemies under Jesus’ feet!
May we pray with joy:
Thank you, dear Father, for painting beautiful pictures of You and your Son in the Word so that we can know you more completely. Thank you, too, for guarding Jesus and us against the Evil One. Thank you for sending Jesus to save us!
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your great power, and glory, and goodness, and beauty. Thank you for obeying your Father. Thank you for triumphing over your enemy and ours by dying on the cross, and rising in three days as you said you would. We are grateful forever, and we love you forever!
Name one of your favorite portraits that God painted in the Word of Himself or of His Son. Ask your family to join you.
Find the pictures you chose in the Bible, then read them together.
Make a list from each painting of the attributes and characteristics of God.