Under the Canopy

I slept in a canopy bed every night from the time I was five or six until I got married. I can remember looking up at the canopy above me and feeling totally protected. A metal framework held pink and white Holly Hobby fabric, forming a “tent” over my head. In my mind, nothing could hurt me under the canopy. I’m not sure how it was accomplished, but that metal frame and the thin piece of fabric created a haven around me. There wasn’t a monster, a nightmare or figment of my imagination that could harm me. I was safe and protected under that canopy. It wasn’t until recently I realized how much my childhood “canopy” experience had Scriptural significance.

“But let them all be glad, those who turn aside to hide themselves in you. May they keep shouting for joy forever! Overshadow them in your presence as they sing and rejoice. Then every lover of your name will burst forth with endless joy. Lord, how wonderfully you bless the righteous. Your favor wraps around each one and covers them under your canopy of kindness and joy” (Psalm 5:11, 12, Passion Translation).

Turning Aside to Hide

In other words, unpleasant circumstances will come. They will try to force their way into our lives, but there is a shelter, a place of protection where we can “turn aside to hide.” That place is in the presence of the Lord. David describes the “overshadowing” presence of the Lord as a hiding place. It’s a canopy of kindness and joy. This is great news. However, we decide on our level of canopy access. Let’s take a closer look at the text.

When I think about the word “canopy,” I see a huge tent in my mind’s eye. I can visualize myself beneath what resembles a circus tent. Its expanse extends far into the distance around me. There is peace and joy here. Celebration and blessings are in abundance. Safety from harm or danger abound. This is what it’s like living in the presence of the Lord, but how do we get there?

Creating a Canopies Framework

Psalm 5 begins with David addressing the Lord as “My King and my God.” In the Believer’s Bible Commentary, William MacDonald wrote that this reveals the intimate relationship David enjoyed with the Lord. So, the psalm ending in God’s overshadowing presence, blessings and favor, is the outgrowth of an intimate relationship with God at the beginning of the passage. Intimacy is the canopy’s framework.

In Psalm 25:4, David says, “Show me your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths” (NKJV). What is David asking? He wants to know God more intimately. He’s building what the canopy hangs on: an intimate relationship with the Lord.

Finding Endless Joy

Psalm 16:11 says, “Because of you, I know the path of life, as I taste the fullness of joy in your presence. At your right side I experience divine pleasures forevermore” (TPT). As we draw near to the Lord, we begin to know the path of life and experience the fullness of joy and divine pleasures.

Those who turn to the Lord for protection and shelter experience gladness. Their shouts of joy continually rise under the canopy of God’s presence. The later part of verse 11 says, “Every lover of your name will burst forth with endless joy.” Think of that: endless joy. Our minds can’t wrap around endless joy, but under the canopy, in the Lord’s presence, it abounds.

Verse 12 tells of how wonderfully the Lord blesses the righteous by surrounding them with favor and covering them with His canopy of kindness and joy. As He stretches His kindness and joy over us and wraps His favor around us, a shield surrounds us. If we look to our left and right, look up and down, we notice a prevailing shadow. Psalm 91:1 says, “When you abide under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most high” (Passion Translation). 

Don’t Leave the Shelter

Although joy, pleasure, life, favor, kindness, blessings and protection are all present under the canopy of God’s presence, our actions determine how much or little we experience them. We must “turn aside to hide” in Him. We must “keep shouting for joy, sing and rejoice.” We must “abide.” Abiding equals residing. We must intentionally remain in the shelter. Under the canopy of God’s presence, kindness and joy, the harmful, destructive forces can’t gain access to us. Whatever happens, don’t leave the shelter.