Many of our readers will remember the old Sunday School chorus suggested by the title of this article. Copyrighted 1938, its words and melody are deeply imbedded in our collective memories.
Safe am I, safe am I, in the hollow of His hand.
Sheltered o’er, sheltered o’er with His love forevermore.
No ill can harm me, no foe alarm me; for He keeps both day and night.
Safe am I, safe am I, in the hollow of His hand.1
How encouraging these words are in the times in which we now live. For over two years we have become all too conscious of our vulnerability: health-wise, economically, socially, spiritually, and in almost every way imaginable. We have hidden ourselves behind masks as some are still doing. Inflation is eating away the buying power of our hard-earned or carefully saved monies. What we’ve held sacred for all our lives is being cancelled, torn down, and cast away—monuments, heroes, even the meaning of words such as male and female, husband and wife, even truth itself. Expressions like fake news, cancel culture, and transgender, to name a few, bombard our ears and leave our spirits troubled.
With the psalmist we ask: “If the foundations be removed, what shall the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3). The next verse is most reassuring: “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven.” And so, we take comfort!
Again, we read: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Ps. 2:1-4).
Our Lord’s words are equally encouraging. “Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:28-31).
Still troubled? We need only recall the familiar Old Testament story recorded in 2 Kings 6:8-17. The king of Syria, having learned that in Israel Elisha knew every plan he made, endeavored to capture him by surrounding the city of Dothan where the prophet was staying. When Elisha’s servant saw they were surrounded, he cried out in fear, “What shall we do?” God opened his eyes to see that “the mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire.” Are we not similarly protected?
I’m reminded of the lyrics of a Gaither song that became popular a couple of decades ago.
Well, it’s all night, all day,
Angels watching over me, my Lord.
Well it’s all night, all day,
Angels watching over me.2
So, what do we know about angels?
- They are in the Bible from Genesis (3:24) to Revelation (22:6-9).
- They are real—Abraham and Lot saw them. So, did Balaam’s donkey, the virgin Mary, Peter, and others.
- They are virtually numberless—“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne, the beasts, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Rev. 5:11).
- Jesus said to Peter: “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:52, 53). A Roman legion numbered about 6,000 soldiers; multiplied by 12 equals 72,000 angels! Hilary of Poitiers, early 4th century, wrote that “everything that seems empty is filled with the angels of God, and there is no place that is not inhabited by them as they go about their ministry.”
- They are highly organized—The Scriptures indicate that angels are organized according to a hierarchy, with Michael being named as “archangel.” Gabriel is named four times.
- They are there for us—“What are the angels, then? They are spirits who serve God and are sent by him to help those who are to receive salvation.” (Heb. 1:13,14).
- Even for little children—“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 18:10).
- They protect us—“Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Ps. 91:9-12).
Let me quote from the article that set me to thinking about angels. “Every day, whether we like it or not, we must enter vulnerability to sleep. We can be harmed. We can be robbed. We are at the mercy of the night. We sleep in our ordinary beds in our ordinary homes in our ordinary lives. And we do so in a universe filled to the brim with mystery and wonder. We always sleep in a crowded cosmos, so we ask for crazy things—that God send unimaginable supernatural beings to watch over us as we drool on our pillows.3
Whether awake or asleep we may be and indeed are vulnerable but praise God, day and night we’re surrounded by His almighty power. And just for good measure, here’s another one of those unforgettable old choruses.
Cheer up ye saints of God, there’s nothing to worry about
Nothing to make you feel afraid; nothing to make you doubt.
Remember Jesus never fails so why not trust Him and shout.
You’ll be sorry you worried at all tomorrow morning.4
- “Safe Am I,” music and words by Mildred Leightner Dillon, 1938.
- “Angels Watching Over Me,” music and words by Bill and Gloria Gaither, 2001.
- “Angels in my Bedroom,” by Tish Warren, Christianity Today, January-February 2022, page 40.