Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
autumn in Hudson, Ohio 2018
Malankara World Journal Monthly
Themes: Church, Psalm 91 - Bible Study
Volume 9 No. 507 November, 2018
 

III. MWJ Special - Bible Study - Psalm 91

Introduction to the Study of Psalm 91

As I debated what to feature here, Psalms was the overwhelming choice. I zeroed in on Psalms 91. As an young boy growing in a sleepy village in Kerala, one of the first thing I learned by heart was our Evening Prayer (that included this psalm). ....

Text of Psalm 91 - Living Bible (TLB)

Text of Psalm 91 (NKJV)

Matthew Henry’s Concise Bible Commentary on Psalm 91

The safety of those who have God for their refuge. (91:1-8) Their favor with Him. (91:9-16) ...

Psalm 91- Commentaries and Homily

This psalm is a meditation, in a serene and confident mood, on the security of the person who trusts in God. There is nothing in the text that provides a clue as to the time and circumstances of its composition. ...

8 Powerful Promises of God from Psalm 91

Is it any coincidence that this is the 9-1-1 verse? In whatever troubles we face today, God is the place of refuge we can run to, He is our safe place. ...

No Evil Shall Befall You

 Jesus is teaching us that promises like Psalm 91 mean this: No ill befalls the saints but what God’s love permits, and even this “ill” will not conquer them. ...

What If Evil Does Befall Me?

When I’m in earthly danger, I can ask that his angels guard me in all my ways. I can count on him as my refuge and my fortress. I can be assured he will be with me in trouble. ,,,

20 Most Surprising Lessons from Psalm 91 You Probably Never Heard Of

Psalms 91 is God’s way of telling us that whoever runs to Him and seeks His divine protection will be saved from calamity and destruction. ...

Psalm 91 - An Invitation to Deeper Prayer

Meditations on the Psalms
Psalm 91: Invitation into deep prayer
Psalm 91: The Trust Psalm

God’s Peace in the Midst of Danger - A Study of Psalm 91

The 91st Psalm is a general psalm of trust, and is especially meaningful to all those who are exposed to danger and hardship. The words of the psalm are a source of comfort and security and protection-in times of sore need and deep distress. ...

III. MWJ Special - Bible Study - Psalm 91

Introduction to the Study of Psalm 91

by Dr. Jacob Mathew,
Chief Editor, Malankara World

With this issue, we transition to a new format for Malankara World Journal. The weekly frequency is changed to a monthly format. This, hopefully, will relieve the clutter in your inbox.

All lectionary related articles are included in the corresponding sermon areas. In its place, we are going to feature something from the bible to do a short study on.

As I debated what to feature here, Psalms was the overwhelming choice. I zeroed in on Psalms 91. As an young boy growing in a sleepy village in Kerala, one of the first thing I learned by heart was our Evening Prayer. The lengthy part of this prayer began with:
 "Uyarappettavente rehasya sthalathu irikkunnavan karthavinte nizhalil sthuthikkapedunnu."

Another version said, "uyarappettavente maravil vasikkukayum daivathinte nizhalil mahathwapedunnavanume."

Frankly I didn't understand what it really said. There was a different version in Konan malpan's book.

Only much later in my adult life, I came to understand the real meaning behind the prayer. I heard it in several funeral services here in the US that made me curious to study it.

Once we read a translation of Psalm 91 in NKJB, TLB or The Message, we start appreciating the beautiful poetry and the rich meanings and promises in this psalm. So, in this edition, we will examine the significance of this psalm, enough to tempt you to study it more.

This psalm is often referred to as the "Psalm of Protection" and also the "Soldier's Psalm". It is a popular prayer for servicemen. Many soldiers and service personnel often carry a copy of this scripture with them when they are deployed into dangerous areas. (Now they carry it in their smart phone.)

In the Jewish faith, psalm 91 is recited before bedtime. It is also used for the burial of the dead. Some churches use this psalm on the first Sunday in Great Lent. (The first 40 days of the Great Lent recalls the 40 days that Christ spent fasting in the wilderness. At the end of the 40 days lent, the devil tempted Jesus by quoting verse 11 and 12 of this psalm).

Hope you enjoy. If you have recommendation for future bible passages to study, please let us know.

Text of Psalm 91 - Living Bible (TLB)
91 We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all gods.

2 This I declare, that he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. 3 For he rescues you from every trap and protects you from the fatal plague. 4 He will shield you with his wings! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor. 5 Now you don’t need to be afraid of the dark anymore, nor fear the dangers of the day; 6 nor dread the plagues of darkness, nor disasters in the morning.[a]

7 Though a thousand fall at my side, though ten thousand are dying around me, the evil will not touch me. 8 I will see how the wicked are punished, but I will not share it. 9 For Jehovah is my refuge! I choose the God above all gods to shelter me. 10 How then can evil overtake me or any plague come near? 11 For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will steady you with their hands to keep you from stumbling against the rocks on the trail. 13 You can safely meet a lion or step on poisonous snakes, yes, even trample them beneath your feet!

14 For the Lord says, “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name. 15 When he calls on me, I will answer; I will be with him in trouble and rescue him and honor him. 16 I will satisfy him with a full life[b] and give him my salvation.”

Footnotes:

Psalm 91:6 in the morning, literally, “at noonday.”
Psalm 91:16 with a full life, literally, “with long life.”

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Text of Psalm 91 (NKJV)

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

91 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the [a] fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and [b] buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
8 Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall [c] bear you up,
Lest you [d] dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will [e] set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With [f] long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Footnotes:

Psalm 91:3 One who catches birds in a trap or snare
Psalm 91:4 A small shield
Psalm 91:12 lift
Psalm 91:12 strike
Psalm 91:14 exalt him
Psalm 91:16 Lit. length of days
New King James Version (NKJV)

Matthew Henry’s Concise Bible Commentary on Psalm 91
Chapter Contents

The safety of those who have God for their refuge. (1-8) Their favour with Him. (9-16)

Commentary on Psalm 91:1-8

He that by faith chooses God for his protector, shall find all in him that he needs or can desire. And those who have found the comfort of making the Lord their refuge, cannot but desire that others may do so. The spiritual life is protected by Divine grace from the temptations of Satan, which are as the snares of the fowler, and from the contagion of sin, which is a noisome pestilence. Great security is promised to believers in the midst of danger. Wisdom shall keep them from being afraid without cause, and faith shall keep them from being unduly afraid. Whatever is done, our heavenly Father's will is done; and we have no reason to fear. God's people shall see, not only God's promises fulfilled, but his threatenings. Then let sinners come unto the Lord upon his mercy-seat, through the Redeemer's name; and encourage others to trust in him also.

Commentary on Psalm 91:9-16

Whatever happens, nothing shall hurt the believer; though trouble and affliction befal, it shall come, not for his hurt, but for good, though for the present it be not joyous but grievous. Those who rightly know God, will set their love upon him. They by prayer constantly call upon him. His promise is, that he will in due time deliver the believer out of trouble, and in the mean time be with him in trouble. The Lord will manage all his worldly concerns, and preserve his life on earth, so long as it shall be good for him. For encouragement in this he looks unto Jesus. He shall live long enough; till he has done the work he was sent into this world for, and is ready for heaven. Who would wish to live a day longer than God has some work to do, either by him or upon him? A man may die young, yet be satisfied with living. But a wicked man is not satisfied even with long life. At length the believer's conflict ends; he has done for ever with trouble, sin, and temptation.

Source: Christianity.com

Psalm 91- Commentaries and Homily

by Michael K. Ayres

Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord.

This psalm is a meditation, in a serene and confident mood, on the security of the person who trusts in God. There is nothing in the text that provides a clue as to the time and circumstances of its composition. Dahood and others take it to be a royal psalm, understanding the participle in verse 1a to mean “he who sits enthroned,” that is, the king.

Verses 1–13 are an extended commentary on how God protects those who trust him; here the psalmist speaks of God’s angels as guaranteeing their safety, a concept rarely found in the psalms.

In verses 14–16 God speaks, confirming the words of the psalmist and promising safety and long life to those who trust him and obey him.

It is possible to place in the left-hand margin the speakers, as follows:

verse 1, a priest;
verse 2, the worshiper;
verses 3–8, priest;
verse 9a, worshiper;
verse 9b, priest; and
verses 14–16, God.

The Hebrew text has no title for this psalm.

[1]

SECTION OUTLINE NINETY-ONE (PSALM 91)

This psalm is about faith and describes the perfect security of one who trusts in the Lord.

I. The Foundation of Faith (91:1–2)

A. Believing in the person of God (91:1–2): The psalmist employs four names for God:
1. Elyon (91:1) : “The Most High”
2. Shaddai (91:1) : “The Almighty”
3. Yahweh (91:2) : “The Lord”
4. Elohim (91:2) : “My God”

B. Believing in the promises of God (91:2) : The psalmist trusts God as his refuge and place of safety.

II. The Foes of Faith (91:3)

A. The trap (91:3) : God rescues us.
B. The fatal plague (91:3) : God protects us.

III. The Fruits of Faith (91:4–10, 13)

A. To find refuge under God’s wings (91:4)
B. To be protected by the armor of God’s faithfulness (91:4)
C. To be reassured in times of terror, danger, and evil (91:5–7, 10)
D. To see the punishment of the wicked (91:8–9)
E. To tread upon the lion and snake (91:13)

IV. The Friends of Faith (91:11–12)

A. Who they are (91:11) : They are angels who do his bidding.
B. What they do (91:11–12)

1. They guard believers (91:11–12): They protect us wherever we go.
2. They guide believers (91:12) : They hold us with their hands.

V. The Fellowship of Faith (91:14–16): Faith creates intimacy between the believer and the Lord.

A. A mutual love (91:14) : He rescues and protects those who love him.
B. Communication through prayer (91:15) : God answers those who call on him.
C. A long life of honor (91:15–16): He is with them in trouble and satisfies them with a long life and salvation.
 

[2]

Scripture Outline

  1. Confession: God’s Protection (91:1–2)
  2. Confidence for Deliverance (91:3–13)
  3. God’s Word of Salvation (91:14–16)

This is both a triumphant and a troubling psalm. It is triumphant because it guarantees that God will be our guard and guide through the evils of this life. It is troubling because it seems to be based on an unworkable theology: a theology of glory. What about suffering? What about the martyrs? What about the Cross? What about children with Down’s syndrome? What about Christians who pray for healing only to hear silence?

As a pastor I have had to deal with the whole range of human experience. On the streets of Hollywood in the 1960s I found prostitutes, drag-queens, runaways, drug addicts, and every conceivable diagnostic disorder. Trying to minister to these people brought me a combination of joy and sorrow both then and now. Some of the converts from that time have become mature in their faith, but many others are far from Christ today.

To change the scene, as a pastor, I have married hundreds of couples over the years. They come, in most part, smiling to the altar, faces glowing, reflecting their love and hope for the future. Few of these many marriages, however, have survived unscathed. Many have ended in divorce with children torn between their parents’ conflicts. Some barely survive. Others have gone through deep waters, later to emerge with health and vitality. But how can this psalm of triumph be applied to all of these people equally?

The fact that our victory in this world is so partial forces us to look more deeply at Psalm 91. We must also remember that Satan distorted this very text by using verses 11–12 to tempt Jesus to destroy Himself by leaping from the temple (Matt. 4:5–7). One irony, as we shall see, is that this psalm is directed against demonic assault.

If Psalm 91 is unqualified in its application to all believers, then it seems contradicted by much of our experience. It is not unqualified, however. It is addressed only to those who dwell “in the secret place of the Most High” and confess God as their “refuge and fortress” (v. 1). It is these who will be protected in the midst of the battle. Neither “the terror by night” nor “the arrow that flies by day” will touch them (v. 5). God’s angels will be their guards (v. 11), and even wild beasts will be under their command (v. 13). Prayers will be answered by God’s presence and protection (v. 15), and the result will be salvation in all of its fullness (v. 16). The issue of this psalm becomes then, “How may we journey into these promises and see them fulfilled in our experience?”

There is no tradition of authorship associated with Psalm 91. Commentators describe its mixed form as a wisdom poem (vv. 1–13) followed by a word from God (vv. 14–16). It may be associated with the temple liturgy, where instruction in divine protection leads to God’s personal response in the form of an oracle. The thought moves from the confession of God’s protection (vv. 1–2) to confidence in deliverance (vv. 3–13) and concludes with God’s word of salvation (vv. 14–16).

CONFESSION: GOD’S PROTECTION

91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
— Psalm 91:1–2

Verse 1 answers the question, “To whom does this psalm apply?” The promise of victory, which is its theme, is for the person who “dwells in the secret place of the Most High” (see Gen. 14:19–20 for this name of God). It is for no one else. The verb to dwell means “to remain, stay, tarry, endure, have one’s abode.” It suggests continuance and permanence.

Jesus identifies His disciples as those who “abide” or “dwell” in Him through eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:56). They also dwell in His Word (John 8:31). Above all else, they dwell in Him as branches dwell or abide in the vine (John 15:7–8). This abiding life, to live and remain in Jesus, is the New Testament counterpart to “dwelling in the secret place of the Most High.” But what is that “secret place?” It is a “covering,” a “hiding-place,” a “shelter.” It can refer to the temple (Ps. 27:5), but only because God’s presence is there (Ps. 31:20).

This secret place is the intimacy of God’s presence; it is our secure communion with Him. By dwelling or living in the surrender of un ceasing worship and prayer (see 1 Thess. 5:16–17), we are like Moses, who was put in the cleft of the rock and covered with God’s hand while His glory passed by (Ex. 33:22).

God’s presence in verse 1 leads to His protection. The person who dwells in the secret place “shall abide [“lodge”) under the shadow of the Almighty.” The metaphor is that of a mother hen who gathers her chicks under her feathers. David prays, “Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me” (Ps. 17:8–9).

In response to God’s promise in verse 1, the psalmist now gives his confession in verse 2. He will say to Yahweh, “He is my refuge and my fortress,” or, better, in direct address: “God, my refuge and my fortress.” The imagery here is military; God is his defensive position against all enemies. Moreover, He is personal, My God. The psalmist concludes, “in Him I will trust” (“feel secure, be unconcerned”).

The theme of this psalm is now clearly established; God will give complete security and victory to the person who dwells in Him and puts his trust in Him. Intimacy and faith will bear this fruit in our lives.

CONFIDENCE FOR DELIVERANCE

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.

He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.

Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
—Psalm 91:3–13

In verses 3–13, we have an extended exposition of what God will do for the person dwelling in Him. While he will experience suffering and evil in this fallen world, he will also know divine protection and deliverance.

In verse 3 the psalmist asserts, “Surely He shall deliver [“snatch or tear away”) you from the snare [trap or net] of the fowler.” The person dwelling in God will never be a caged or eaten bird. Furthermore, God will deliver him “from the perilous pestilence.” (The noun pestilence means a lethal disease; Ex. 9:15; Num. 14:12.) As we have seen, God will cover the psalmist with His “feathers,” hiding him “under His wings” (see v. 1; Ps. 61:4). Here he will “take refuge.”

On the surface, the psalmist may be describing deliverance from human adversity. But in light of verses 5–6 (see comments below), it is probable that he has a darker enemy in mind. The fowler and the “perilous pestilence” become demonic agents of spiritual and physical assault. Paul warns new converts about falling “into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:7). Behind much disease stands supernatural evil. So Jesus heals a bent woman whom Satan bound for eighteen years (Luke 13:16).

In the midst of verse 4 the metaphor shifts to military equipment. The person dwelling in God’s “secret place” will have “His truth” as a “shield” and “buckler.” This shield is large, protecting the whole body. The word rendered buckler appears only here in the Old Testament. It probably means a round shield. The two pieces of armor illustrate the full (and double) protection offered by God’s truth. In the New Testament truth is a weapon against the devil. Jesus ex poses Satan with His word as He declares Himself to be the Light of the World (John 8:l2ff.), and Paul instructs us to wear the “whole armor of God,” which includes the truth of the gospel in several aspects, “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).

The results of this protection are sketched in verses 5–6. The per son dwelling in God’s secret place will not be afraid of “the terror [“dread”] by night” (v. 5). While this could refer to a surprise military attack, it probably indicates demonic assault. (A psychologist friend of mine experienced such an attack when she awakened from a nap after midnight in a room where several clients involved in the occult had been counseled. After rebuking the demons in Jesus’ name, she was able to go back to sleep.) Furthermore, the person dwelling in God’s secret place will not fear the “arrow that flies by day.” While this may have a human context, it may also be a metaphor for demonic assault coming like fiery darts (see Eph. 6:16).

In verse 6 the person hidden in God need not fear “the pestilence that walks in darkness.” Here, in contrast to verse 3, the pestilence is qualified. It stalks at night, having a demonic character. Finally, this person is free from “the destruction that lays waste at noonday,” which may well represent supernatural assaults in broad daylight. From all of this human and demonic activity, the person “dwelling in the secret place of the Most High” is protected.

The promise of God’s care is expressed physically in verses 7–8. While vast numbers of people are falling all around, a “thousand … at your side, / And ten thousand at your right hand, it [the plague, battle casualties, demonic conquest?] shall not come near you” (v. 7). The protected person walks through this holocaust of evil un touched. Moreover, he will also see the “wicked” (“hostile enemies,” “lawbreakers”) get their just reward (v. 8). In the New Testament Jesus and the early church saw God’s power overcoming the works of Satan; demons were cast out as the authority of God’s kingdom was manifest. When the seventy returned to Jesus from their mission, they reported, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He responded, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:17–18).

Why this victory over evil? The answer is given in verses 9–13. The foundation is laid in verse 9, which repeats the promise and confession of verses 1–2. The protected person prospers because the Lord is his “refuge” (see v. 2) and the “Most High” (see v. 1) his “habitation” (“lair,” “dwelling place”). There, living in God’s presence (v. 10), “No evil [‘distress’, calamity’] shall befall you.” More over, no “plague” (“scourge”) will “come near your dwelling” (“tent”). His family and possessions will be safe as well. By dwelling in the Lord, armed with His truth, we cannot be touched by Satan or his minions of evil. He cannot penetrate that secret place, near to God’s heart. He cannot gain an advantage over those of us who are now held in Jesus’ hand.

To be under God’s shadow (v. 1), covered with His feathers (v. 4), means also to have angelic aid. God sends His supernatural messengers to have “charge over you, / To keep [“guard,” “preserve”] you in all your ways” (v. 11). These angels are Elisha’s chariots of fire filling the mountains around us with protection against our enemies (see 2 Kin. 6:17). More than once, close personal friends of mine, whose mature Christian walk I respect, have reported to me that as I have gotten up to preach the platform is filled with angels.

This angelic care is complete. These guardians bear up the protected person “in their hands” so that he will not even “dash” his “foot against a stone” (v. 12). Moreover, he will experience victory over all evil: treading upon “the lion and the cobra,” and (in parallel) trampling “the young lion” and “the serpent” (v. 13).

In the disputed ending to Mark’s Gospel, Jesus promises His evangelists, “They will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them” (Mark 16:18). Paul also promises, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). As we indicated above, the fact that the devil took these verses in this psalm and used them to tempt Jesus is ironic since this same psalm promises complete protection from malignant, supernatural evil. At the same time, that Jesus refuted the temptation and walked through untouched proves that the promises of verses 3–4 for deliverance and protection are true (see Matt. 4:1–11).

GOD’S WORD OF SALVATION

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”
—Psalm 91:14–16

God now speaks from His “secret place” in verse 14. Because the person who dwells there loves Him, or “has set His love upon Him,” He will “deliver him” (“cause him to escape [all evil]”). God will be faithful to His beloved. No demonic presence can stand before Him. Moreover, the Lord will “set him on high” (“securely exalt him,” see Ps. 69:29) because he has known His name; that is, he has had an intimate relationship with Him (see Ex. 3:13–14).

Out of this intimacy he will experience vital prayer: “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him” (v. 15). So Jesus promises His disciples, “If you abide (dwell) in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). God will also grant His presence and protection: “I will be with him in trouble [“distress”] / I will deliver him.” Moreover, He will “honor [‘glorify’] him,” give him “long life” (a sign of blessing), and “show him” (that is, “have him experience”) His “salvation” (“deliverance”).

Here is the divine response to the person who dwells and lives in intimacy with the Lord. He knows God’s presence (“on high”), God’s power (“I will answer him”), God’s protection (“I will deliver him”), and God’s provision (“I will satisfy him”). This is salvation!

For those of us who experience so much brokenness in this world, Psalm 91 can either be a mockery or a call and a hope. If we long for and desire greatly to be intimate with God, He promises to be intimate with us. The road to intimacy lies in self-disclosure (John Wimber). As we disclose ourselves to God, He will disclose Himself to us, and Satan will be locked out of our hearts as God’s kingdom reigns there. This is what it means to dwell in the secret place, to be hidden and covered by the Almighty.

[3]

All the psalms are from God and are wonderful. But some have commended themselves to God’s people as being especially rich and comforting and to which they have repeatedly turned in times of sickness, loneliness, and trouble. Psalm 91 is one of these special psalms. It has been committed to heart by thousands of people, and millions have turned to it with thankfulness in the midst of life’s calamities.

Psalm 91 may be compared with Psalm 46, which calls God “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). Martin Luther loved that psalm and turned to it often because he had so many troubles. Psalm 91 may also be compared with Psalm 90. Both call God the “dwelling place” of his people, which is probably why they have been placed together in the Psalter. There are verbal similarities between the two psalms, which has led some commentators to conclude that Psalm 91, as well as Psalm 90, was written by Moses, though there are no other truly substantial reasons for thinking that. Besides, the psalms differ greatly in their tones. As H. C. Leupold says, “The latter [Psalm 90] is somber and stately; this is bright and simple. The one breathes deep insight; the other cheerful trust.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was not overstating the case when he wrote, “In the whole collection there is not a more cheering psalm; its tone is elevated and sustained throughout, faith is at its best and speaks nobly.”

Psalm 91 has given us two great hymns as well as some additional verses by well-known writers such as Edmund Spenser (“And Is There Care in Heaven”) and Horatius Bonar (“He Liveth Long Who Liveth Well”). The hymns we sing are “Under the Care of My God, the Almighty” from the Bible Songs Hymnal of 1927 and “The Man Who Once Has Found Abode” from the Reformed Presbyterian Book of Psalms of 1940.

One striking feature of Psalm 91 is that it consists of three clear movements marked by a change in pronouns. The first movement is marked by the pronoun I (vv. 1–2). It expresses the psalmist’s personal faith in God. The second movement is marked by the pronoun you (vv. 3–13). It is a word from the psalmist to the reader or listener, his word to us. The final stage is marked by the divine pronoun I (vv. 14–16). Here God speaks to the reader to declare what he will be and do for the one who loves him and calls upon him. In the New International Version the second of these two major movements is divided into separate stanzas (vv. 3–8 and 9–13). The first speaks of God’s protection from many kinds of dangers. The second expresses the condition for such protection by God and the results if the condition is met.

The Psalmist’s Personal Faith in God

The first verse of the psalm is a thematic statement, expressing what the remainder of the psalm will be about:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

However, as soon as the psalmist makes that statement he immediately breaks in to confess his own faith before commending it to us: “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’ ” (v. 2). This is the equivalent of the apostle Thomas’s confession of faith after Jesus had appeared to him following the resurrection and Thomas fell at his feet, exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

So here is a first point of application: Is Jesus Christ your Lord and God? Is the God of the Bible your refuge in times of trouble? The psalm’s promises are for you only if he is.

What promises they are! And with what force they are commended to us! There are four metaphors for the security we can have in God. God will be our “shelter” and “shadow” (v. 1) and our “refuge” and “fortress” (v. 2). There are also four names for God, which give substance and strength to the metaphors. He is “the Most High,” “the Almighty” (v. 1), “the Lord,” and “my God” (v. 2). When the psalmist identifies God as his God in the last expression, it is a way of saying that the shelter, shadow, refuge, and fortress are for those who really do dwell in God and trust him. Spurgeon wrote, “The blessings here promised are not for all believers, but for those who live in close fellowship with God. Every child of God looks towards the inner sanctuary and the mercy-seat, yet all do not dwell in the most holy place; they run to it at times, and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in the mysterious presence.”

So here is a second application: Do you live in close fellowship with God? Do you rest in the shadow of the Almighty? Is he your place of habitual dwelling? The psalm is written to urge you to trust and cling to God in all circumstances.

Trust in God Commended

Having stated his own personal faith in God, the psalmist now commends that faith to us, taking six verses to explain what God will do for the one who trusts him. The most striking feature of this section (and the one following) is the use of the singular you throughout, which is a way of saying that these truths are for each person individually. They are for you if you will truly trust or abide in God.

Verse 3 sets the tone for this section by saying that God will save the trusting soul from two kinds of dangers: first, the subtle snare of enemies, described as the trap a fowler used to catch birds, and second, death by disease or pestilence. This does not mean that those who trust God never die from infectious diseases or suffer from an enemy’s plot, of course. It means that those who trust God are habitually delivered from such dangers. What Christian cannot testify to many such deliverances? Indeed, our entire lives are filled with deliverances from many and manifold dangers, until God finally takes us to be with himself.

The words “deadly pestilence” (v. 3) and later “the pestilence that stalks in the darkness” and “the plague that destroys at midday” (v. 6) help us recall many instances of such protection.

Lord Craven, a Christian, was a nobleman who was living in London when plague ravaged the city in the fifteenth century. In order to escape the spreading pestilence Craven determined to leave the city for his country home, as many of his social standing did. He ordered his coach and baggage made ready. But as he was walking down one of the halls of his home about to enter his carriage, he overheard one of his servants say to another, “I suppose by my Lord’s quitting London to avoid the plague that his God lives in the country and not in town.” It was a straightforward and apparently innocent remark. But it struck Lord Craven so deeply that he canceled his journey, saying, “My God lives everywhere and can preserve me in town as well as in the country. I will stay where I am.” So he stayed in London. He helped the plague victims, and he did not catch the disease himself.

There is a similar story from the life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. In 1854, when he had been in London only twelve months, the area of the city in which the young preacher lived was visited by Asiatic cholera. Many in Spurgeon’s congregation were affected, and there was hardly a family in which someone did not get sick, and many died. The young pastor spent most of every day visiting the sick, and there was hardly a day when he did not have to accompany some family to the graveyard.

Spurgeon became physically and emotionally exhausted and sick at heart. He was ready to sink under this heavy load of pastoral care. But as God would have it, one day he was returning home sadly from a funeral when he noticed a sign in a shoemaker’s shop on Dover Road. It was in the owner’s own handwriting, and it bore these words: “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,” a quotation from Psalm 91:9–10 (kjv).

Spurgeon was deeply and immediately encouraged. He wrote, “The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The providence which moved the tradesman to put those verses in his window I gratefully acknowledge, and in the remembrance of its marvelous power I adore the Lord my God.”

Verse 4 contains two appealing images of God’s protection: first, that of a mother bird, sheltering and protecting her young (“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge”) and second, that of a warrior’s armor (“his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart”). The exact meaning of the word rampart (niv) is uncertain. The Hebrew word signifies something that is wrapped around a person for his or her protection; hence, it can mean “buckler,” “armor,” or, as in the niv, a “rampart” or fortress. It may be that something of each of these ideas is in the Hebrew word.

Jesus appropriated the first of these two images for himself, saying as he looked out over the city of Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matt. 23:37). Jesus would have saved and sheltered Jerusalem and its inhabitants, but the people were not willing. They would not come to him. They would not “dwell” in the shelter of the Most High. They cried out for his crucifixion instead.

As for the second image, we may recall God’s words to Abraham when he was returning from his attack on the kings who had raided Sodom and Gomorrah and carried off Abraham’s nephew Lot. Abraham had won the battle, recovering Lot, the women, and their possessions. But Abraham was in danger of retaliation by these kings. It was then that God spoke to him in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (Gen. 15:1). That is what God will be to us, if we will trust him.

Here is an important question: What exactly is it that is said to be the believer’s “shield and rampart” (v. 4). God, of course! But in what respect? The King James Version says, “His truth will be your shield and buckler.” In my view, the New International Version is richer at this point, for the Hebrew word means more than mere truth. It has to do with God’s entire character, described as faithfulness. Still something is lost if we do not also realize that the Hebrew word for faithfulness is based on the word for truth and that what is involved here is God’s faithfulness to his promises—that is, to his word. In other words, it is when we believe God’s Word and act upon it that we find him to be faithful to what he has promised and learn that he is in truth our shield from dangers and our rampart against enemies.

Verses 7–8 describe thousands falling on either side of those who trust God, noting, “You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” This interprets the death of the thousands as God’s punishment for sin and places the deliverance of God’s people in that context. In other words, it is not a promise that those who trust God will never die of disease or even in some military conflict, but that they will not suffer those or any other calamities as God’s judgment against them for their sin. Their sin has been atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Protection from Dangers: The Condition

Much of what is found in the third stanza of this psalm (vv. 9–11) is like what we have seen already. It tells us that “no harm will befall” us and that “no disaster will come near your tent” (v. 10). But there are a few new elements.

One of them, probably the chief idea because it comes first, is that there is a condition to the kind of protection the psalm has been promising—that the individual “make the Most High [his] dwelling” (v. 9). This is more than merely believing in God or coming to God occasionally when danger threatens. It means resting in God continually and trusting him at all times. It means living all of life “in God.” Martin Luther wrote that this refers to “one who really dwells and does not merely appear to dwell and does not just imagine that he dwells” in God.

The second new element reinforces the first and, by means of its use in the New Testament, is an illustration of it. It is the reference to angels, the psalmist saying,

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone
(vv. 11–12).

This is the verse the devil quoted as part of his temptation of Jesus Christ, recorded in Matthew 4:1–11 and Luke 4:1–13. It is the only verse of Scripture actually quoted by the devil, at least that we have a record of. But he misquoted it! He left out “in all your ways”—that is, in the ways marked out for us by God and not our own willful ways. For that was the very essence of the temptation; he wanted Jesus to go his own way rather than trusting God and being contented with God’s way, even if it meant going to the cross. The devil wanted Jesus to test God by jumping off a pinnacle of the temple, trusting his Father to send angels to bear him up so he would not be dashed to pieces when he fell and thus impress the people. Jesus replied rightly, saying, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’ ” (Matt. 4:7, quoting Deut. 6:16). Testing God by jumping off a pinnacle of the temple would not be going in the way God had given him to go. It would be the very opposite of trusting God; it would be “baiting” him or “putting him to the test.”

The Lord’s trust in his Father also resulted in Satan’s defeat, another part of the psalm the devil omitted (v. 13). The psalm tells us that if we go in God’s way, trusting him to uphold us, then we will “tread upon the lion and the cobra”; we will “trample the great lion and the serpent.” The Bible elsewhere describes Satan as “a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8) and that “ancient serpent” (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). Jesus triumphed over him by trusting God. Likewise, in Christ the righteous will be victorious over Satan too.

Here is one more thought about this incident. When Jesus replied to Satan, he rejected the temptation to jump from the temple, trusting the angels of God to keep him from being killed. But the angels were there anyway, though invisibly. For after Satan had completed his temptation we are told God’s “angels came and attended him” (Matt. 4:11). In other words, God was upholding Jesus even in the temptation.

God’s Promises for Those Who Trust Him

The last three verses of this psalm contain a confirming oracle of God in which the controlling pronoun switches from you, which dominated in verses 3–13, back to I, as in verse 2. Only here the I is God himself. In these verses God adds his seal to what the psalmist has been saying. God promises three things to those who trust him.

1. Protection for the one who is in danger (v. 14). The psalm speaks throughout of the many dangers that threaten God’s people, but its central message is that God will rescue and protect from all such dangers those who trust him. Those who have trusted God know this and praise God constantly for his help and protection.

2. An answer for the one who is in trouble and prays to God about it (v. 15). One of the great blessings of following hard after God is knowing that when we call upon him he will hear and answer us. These verses say that God will deliver and honor such a person. They also say that God will be with the believer “in trouble,” which is a way of acknowledging that God does not always lift a Christian out of troubles. Sometimes it is his will that we endure them and profit from them. We are told in Romans that we acquire hope, develop character, and learn perseverance from what we suffer (Rom. 5:3–4). When we go through such circumstances, God goes through them with us. He sustains us in our sufferings.

3. Long life and salvation for the one who seeks God’s satisfaction (v. 16). Long life is a blessing frequently promised to the righteous in the Old Testament (Exod. 20:12; Deut. 30:20; Pss. 21:4; 23:6; Prov. 3:2, 16), but the promise is not necessarily for a prolongation of days but rather for a complete or full life. Here there is the added promise of a “salvation” in heaven, yet to come.

These verses also make a point that has been developed several times already—the promises are for those who trust in or love God. Therefore, they are blessings that some believers miss out on, simply because they are always fretting and do not trust God as they should. Here the psalmist quotes God as saying that the blessings are for those who love God and acknowledge his name (v. 14), call upon him (v. 15), and seek satisfaction in what he alone can provide.

Do you do that? Or are you still trying to find satisfaction in the world? Do you love the world more than you love Jesus? John R. W. Stott reminds us of Romans 8:28, observing that “God is the supreme object of the believer’s love as well as faith, and it is to those who love God that the assurance is given that ‘in all things God works for their good.’ ”

[4]

This psalm, like the majority in the present Book, is without a title. Jewish tradition, however, ascribed it to Moses—a conclusion which Dr. Kay and others accept as borne out by the facts, especially by the many close resemblances between it and Deut. 32, 33. Other critics, and they are the majority, trace in it a different hand, but regard it as suggested by Ps. 90.

The subject is the security of the man who thoroughly trusts in God. This subject is worked out by an “antiphonal arrangement” (Cheyne)—the first speaker delivering vers. 1, 2; the second, vers. 3, 4; then the first responding with vers. 5–8; and again the second with vers. 9–13. In conclusion, a third speaker, making himself the mouthpiece of Jehovah, crowns all by declaring the blessings which God himself will bestow upon his faithful ones (vers. 14–16).

This psalm is, apparently, liturgical, and is “the most vivid of the liturgical psalms” (Cheyne). It has a certain resemblance to the speech of Eliphaz the Temanite in Job 5:17–23, but stands at a higher elevation.

Ver. 1.—He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High (comp. Ps. 90:1). He who has his thoughts always on God is said to “dwell in him”—to “make his adode with him”—to “sit down in his secret place.” He has the Almighty, as it were, for his constant companion. Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. This is not “tautology.” What is meant is that “loving faith on man’s part shall be met by faithful love on God’s part” (Kay). God will extend his “shadow” over the man who places himself under his protection.

Ver. 2.—I will say of the Lord. The general sentiment is followed by a personal application. “I, at any rate,” says the first speaker, “will place myself under this powerful protection.” He is my Refuge and my Fortress (comp. Pss. 18:2; 144:2). My God; in him will I trust (comp. Pss. 29:2; 31:6; 55:23; 56:3; 61:4, etc.).

Ver. 3.—Surely he shall deliver thee. The second speaker takes up the word, and naturally changes the person. Addressing the first speaker, he says—Yes, assuredly, God shall deliver thee from whatever dangers beset thee: as, first, from the snare of the fowler (comp. Ps. 124:7; Prov. 6:5); and, secondly, from the noisome pestilence (comp. ver. 6), i.e. from all dangers whatsoever—not more from these than from others.

Ver. 4.—He shall cover thee with his feathers; rather, with his pinions (see the Revised Version; comp. ver. 1; and see Exod. 19:4; Deut. 32:11). And under his wings shalt thou trust; rather, shalt thou take refuge. His truth—i.e. “his faithfulness, his fidelity”—shall be thy shield and buckler; i.e. “thy protection.”

Ver. 5.—Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night. Robbers constituted the chief “terror by night” (see Job 24:14–16; Jer. 49:9; Obad. 5); but night attacks on the part of a foreign enemy were not uncommon (Cant. 3:8; Isa. 15:1). Nor for the arrow that flieth by day. Open war is probably intended, not sirocco, or pestilence, or “the arrows of the Almighty” (Job. 6:4). The man who trusts in God will be specially protected in the peril of battle.

Ver. 6.—Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness. The plague-god is personified and represented as stalking through the land in the hours of darkness. Parallels have been found in the literature of the Babylonians (see ‘Babylonian and Oriental Record,’ vol. i. p. 12) and elsewhere. Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. The rare word, קטב, translated “destruction” here and in Deut. 32:24, is rendered by the LXX. δαιμόνιον and the entire phrase, “for the destruction that westeth at noonday,” becomes ἀπὸ συμπτώματος καὶ δαιμονίου μεσημβρινοῦ—“from ruin and the demon of the midday”—by which sunstroke would seem to be meant (comp. Ps. 121:6, “The sun shall not smite thee by day”).

Ver. 7.—A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand. The meaning is, “Though a thousand, or even ten thousand, should fall beside thee, in battle, or through pestilence, or sunstroke,” yet—It shall not come nigh thee—the danger, whatever it be, shall not touch thy person; thou shalt be protected from it.

Ver. 8.—Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward (or, “the recompense”) of the wicked; i.e. without suffering anything thyself, thou shalt look on, and see the punishment of the ungodly. So Israel in the land of Goshen “looked on,” and saw the calamities of the Egyptians.

Ver. 9.—Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my Refuge, even the Most High, thy Habitation; literally, for thou, O Lord, art my Refuge; thou hast made the Most High thy Dwelling-place, which can scarcely be made to yield a tolerable sense. It is supposed that a word—אָמַרְתָּ—has dropped out, and that the verse originally ran thus; “Because thou hast said, Jehovah is my Refuge, and hast made the Most High thy Dwelling-place” (comp. vers. 1, 2). The second speaker for a second time addresses the first.

Ver. 10.—There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. The faithful man is to be preserved from evil of every kind. His very “dwelling” is to be protected so that his family may suffer no hurt.

Ver. 11.—For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (comp. Ps. 34:7). The faithful are under the constant care of angels (Heb. 1:14), who guide them and direct them perpetually. Satan made a crafty use of this promise when he tempted our Lord (Matt. 4:6; Luke 4:10, 11). No doubt it applies to him pre-eminently, as the specially “Faithful One.”

Ver. 12.—They shall bear thee up in their hands; rather, upon their hands—lifting thee over difficulties and stumbling-blocks. Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone (comp. Prov. 3:23, 24). Moral impediments are, no doubt, chiefly meant.

Ver. 13.—Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder. Conquered enemies prostrated themselves before their conquerors, who, to mark the completeness of the subjection, placed a foot upon the prostrate form. From this practice the metaphor of “treading under foot” for conquering became a commonplace (see Pss. 7:5; 44:5; 60:12, etc.). The “lion” here represents all open and violent foes; the “adder,” all secret and malignant ones. The young lion (kěphir, the lion in the height of his strength) and the dragon (tannin, the most dreadful form of serpent) shalt thou trample under feet. An emphatic repetition, with a certain heightening of the colour.

Ver. 14.—Because he hath set his love upon me (see Deut. 7:7; 10:15). “By a sudden and effective transition,” as Professor Cheyne remarks, “Jehovah becomes the speaker” of the concluding strophe. It is not enough that the faithful should encourage each other by their anticipations of God’s coming mercies, God himself now speaks by the mouth of his prophet, and makes promises in his own Person. I will deliver him. A ratification of vers. 3, 7, 10–15. I will set him on high; i.e. “exalt him above his fellows”—“bring him to honour.” Because he hath known my Name. “Knowing God’s Name” is nearly equivalent to knowing him. It implies, besides knowledge, faith and trust in the Almighty.

Ver. 15.—He shall call upon me, and I will answer him. This is equivalent to, “Whenever he calls upon me, I will answer him,” or “I will grant all his prayers.” I will be with him in trouble (comp. Ps. 46:1). I will deliver him (see above, ver. 14). And honour him; or, “bring him to honour” (compare “I will set him on high,” in the preceding verse).

Ver. 16.—With long life (or, length of days) will I satisfy him. Length of days is always viewed in the Old Testament as a blessing, and a special reward for obedience (Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16; 2 Kings 20:6, 2 Chron. 1:11; Ps. 21:4; Prov. 3:2, 16, etc.). It is only in the New Testament that we learn how much “better” it is “to depart, and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23). And show him my salvation (comp. Ps. 50:23); i.e. “make him experience what salvation is.” “Salvation,” as Professor Cheyne observes, “is both an act and a state”—an act on God’s part, a state on man’s.

HOMILETICS

Ver. 11.—The angels. “He shall give his angels charge,” etc. The restful spirit of absolute trust in God rises in this psalm to its loftiest height. It is a glorious commentary on Isa. 26:3. The Divine answer at the close (vers. 14–16) shows how near the Lord is to the soul that trusts him. Compare, as an equally glorious New Testament parallel, Rom. 8:31–39. St. Paul defies “angels and principalities” of evil to harm God’s children. Here holy angels are declared to be their watchful helpers and guardians.

I. His angels. Angels sustain a most close, happy, exalted relation to God, of nearness, love, service (Ps. 103:20; Luke 1:19; Rev. 5:11).

II. They are our fellow-subjects and fellow-servants in the heavenly kingdom of our risen Lord. (1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 22:8, 9.) Jesus, who received their ministry on earth (Matt. 4:11; Luke 22:43), commands it now (Rev. 22:16).

III. Their mighty powers are willingly and obediently exercised in ministering to the welfare of God’s children. (Heb. 1:14.) Note: They minister to God for his children. Their power is inconceivably great. One angel was able to destroy Sodom and the other guilty cities. The same angel gently, though firmly, led Lot out. One angel smote the firstborn (comp. Matt. 28:2, 5; Acts 11:7, etc.; Matt. 26:53).

IV. Angels are to be our fellow-worshippers and associates in the eternal home. (Luke 20:36; Heb. 12:22.)

Remarks. 1. This case is minute as well as mighty (ver. 12). One false step may be fatal. Angels are examples of that thorough obedience which is “faithful in that which is least.” 2. It is our Father’s care we are to recognize. “He shall give his angels charge.” All their power, wisdom, care, love, flow from him as their Source. His care and love are over each one of his children every moment. “Over thee to keep thee.”

Ver. 15.—True prayer. “He shall call,” etc. This is the simplest view of prayer. And in our present weakness, sin, need, that which comes most home, suits us most. Prayer may extend far beyond the range of our own need, as in the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. It may rise above petition into converse with God, adoration, thanksgiving, consecration. But this is the alphabet of those loftier lessons, “Ask and receive” (Luke 11:9, etc.; Ps. 50:15).

I. Prayer is a law of God’s government. He has ordained it among the conditions of the blessings he is ready to bestow, as surely as he has ordained sowing as the condition of reaping, or the dependence of the child on the parent (Matt. 7:11). We hear much in our day of laws; and no wonder, for the progress of science depends on the discovery of the laws which regulate nature. Rightly understood, they are the glorious witness of which Ps. 19:1 speaks. The mischief and folly come in when men erect “laws” into an imaginary self-existence, and worship them as a sort of fetish, just as in old times people worshipped imaginary powers in nature. A strange idolatry! Laws can have no existence but in mind. In our minds they are truths which we discover as constant amid the infinite, ever-changing variety of nature. In the Divine mind they are the principles and rules according to which the Creator has made, upholds, and rules the universe. Now, if prayer be one of the great laws which God has ordained for human life, it must needs be in perfect harmony with all nature’s laws. God’s laws cannot contradict one another. The so-called “scientific” objection against prayer (which has really nothing scientific in it) amounts to this—that if God is influenced by prayer, so that he causes events which would not have happened had prayer not been offered, nature must be irregular, and God irresolute. The answer is—It is God’s will that “men pray everywhere,” as much as that the sun shall shine and rain fall. He has built this universe as a temple. All nature is so under his eye, hand, will, that it is no more deranged by his granting our petitions than by a parent granting a child’s request (1 John 5:14, 15). Men can disobey, disbelieve, despise, this great law of prayer. The difference between natural laws and laws for intelligent beings is just this—things cannot disobey God. Men can; but they must take the consequences.

II. That God answers prayer is a fact of experience. The truth of any law is verified by experience. So God says, “Prove me.” The law of prayer is established by the teaching of the whole Bible, by abundant express promises, by our Saviour’s example as well as teaching. It has been tested constantly for thousands of years; is being tested hourly—nay, every minute. And the immense witness of experience is, “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him.” If experience can establish any fact, it is this. But here is a difficulty. All prayers are not answered.

References/Notes/Sources

[1] Robert G. Bratcher and William David Reyburn, A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms, Helps for translators (New York: United Bible Societies, 1991). 801.

[2] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999). Ps 91:1.

[3] Donald Williams and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 14 : Psalms 73-150, The Preacher's Commentary series (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989). 156.

[4] James Montgomery Boice, Psalms, Pbk. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2005). 747.

Source: Faithlife Sermons; Copyright 2018 Faithlife

8 Powerful Promises of God from Psalm 91

by Debbie McDaniel

We trudged slowly back to the car through a crowded parking lot in the Texas summer heat. Hot, humid, full sun bearing down. I noticed my daughter matching my steps, walking close by my side the entire way back. Little legs stretching out as far as they could to match my stride. She smiled up at me and said, "Mom, look, I'm walking in your shade." She'd found the shadow, the safe place to walk. I loved that my side was her shield, giving her protection from the heat.

This reminder came…

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

We may not always see it, or feel it, we might forget it’s there at times, or even wonder if He's left us to fend for ourselves in the heat of hard situations of life. But His protection is real. He doesn't, He can't, forget us or ignore us. If we belong to Him, His love is too great to leave us on our own.

Is it any coincidence that this is the 9-1-1 verse? In whatever troubles we face today, God is the place of refuge we can run to, He is our safe place.

The word “dwell” used in this verse actually means, “to take up permanent residence in.” He reminds us to stay in His presence, for it’s a permanent place of living. His Word says if we do that, we will “rest” in the very "shadow of the Almighty." Shadows by definition are a place of protection or covering, they provide relief from the direct heat of the sun. If the heat is severe, the shade is the place we run to. It diminishes what we actually feel in the intensity of the heat.

A reminder for us, especially in the tough stuff, that we never walk alone. Full heat of troubles bearing down hard, heavy, it’s a struggle at times to keep trudging through it all. Pressure and stress can seem as stifling as a hot afternoon summer sun. Yet God whispers truth, strong and sure, “Walk in my shadow, up close to my side.” It’s in the safe place that brings confidence; for when we are resting is God’s shadow, we will never face the full heat of our difficulties. He shelters from that pain. His shade, His shadow, diminishes what is actually felt in the intensity of all the heat. Rest, peace, and calm rise up strong, right in the struggling mess of life, and we’re assured, He's in control.

Sometimes, maybe unintentionally, in the busyness or difficulties of living, we might strive to survive on our own. We forget that what we need most, God's protection and the comfort of His presence, are freely available to those who love Him and walk under His covering.

This entire chapter of Psalm 91 is filled with the goodness and power of God. Great reminders that He faithfully works on behalf of those who love Him. And at the end of it all, God gives 8 reasons of why we do not have to fear.

He promises:

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-16

Psalm 91's Promises from God

"I will rescue him..." (deliver, cause to escape)
"I will protect him..." (set him on a high place)
"I will answer him..." (respond to, speak)
"I will be with him in trouble..." (in afflictions, in distress)
"I will deliver him..." (rescue, to bring into safety)
"and honor him..." (to make rich, strong, heavy with honor)
"With long life will I satisfy him..." (to have abundance in the journey)
"and show him my salvation." (let him see my deliverance & victory)

There is great blessing as we seek after God, and choose to walk in His ways. In the midst of great darkness in this world, living in it all without His Truth and freedom, would be like wallowing in the pit. Not much hope to be found there. The truth is, this world has been dark for generations, since sin first entered the earth at the hiss of the enemy's lies.

Yet God's reminders are sure, strong, and true, assuring us that in all that we walk through in this journey, His call is always to rise above. He reminds us we're not alone. And though He never says that we won't face hard times, He does say He'll be with us in it, rescuing us, and shining His favor over us.

Don’t ever doubt it. God works on behalf of those who love Him and honor His name. He is so good to us. We may never fully know, this side of heaven, how very much He has sheltered us from in this life.

"Dear God, Thank you for your presence with us, thank you for your Almighty Shadow. Thank you that you go before us, and cover us from behind. Thank you that you are in our midst, and that our future is secure in the place you're preparing for us.

Your words bring such hope and comfort. Remind us of your strength today, may we see glimpses of your glory and blessing along the way as we seek after you. For victory and salvation are found in you alone.

In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen."

About The Author:

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives.

Source: crosswalk.com

No Evil Shall Befall You

by John Piper, desiringGod.org

James Chalmers, a Scottish-born Presbyterian missionary, sailed for the South Pacific under the London Missionary Society in 1866. During his thirty-five years of service on the frontiers he lost two wives, but the grief only moved him to greater dedication. He vowed to bury his sorrow in work for Christ. In the spring of 1901, he and Oliver Tomkins were on an exploratory trip along the coast of New Guinea in the Fly River region. The two went ashore and when they did not return a search party went in and came out with the news. Chalmers and Tomkins had been clubbed to death, chopped into pieces, cooked and eaten before the search party even arrived.

What then does Psalm 91:7-12 mean?

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you…Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Could it be that James Chalmers and Oliver Tomkins lacked faith in this promise? No! Hebrews 11:33-35 tell of saints who through faith “escaped the sword,” but verses 36-38 tell of saints who through faith “were killed with the sword.”

Could it be that this promise of safety only applied in Old Testament days but not any more? No! Psalm 44:22 shrieks, “Nay, for thy sake we are slain all day long, and counted as sheep for the slaughter.” Even in Old Testament days the promise seemed vain.

Could it be that Psalm 91 is a prophecy of the Messiah and will only apply to him? Perhaps Messiah will escape the sword? No! Satan tried this on Jesus in the wilderness. He quoted this very Psalm, urging Jesus to claim this promise for himself. Jesus refused and joined the “ten thousand who fall” (v. 7).

What then? I think Jesus is teaching us that promises like Psalm 91 mean this: No ill befalls the saints but what God’s love permits, and even this “ill” will not conquer them. Paul asks, “Shall peril or sword separate us from the love of Christ?” And answers, “No! In all these we are more than conquerors!” The Psalmists proclaimed absolute safety to the saints not because they were naïve, but because under the impulse of the Holy Spirit they felt an indomitable hope that God rules and cares for his people. Evil simply can’t befall them! If it seems to, there must be a glorious deliverance we can’t see. What else can we conclude when we put two Psalms together like this:

Psalm 44:22 – "For thy sake we are slain all day long."
Psalm 34:19 – "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

And didn’t Jesus talk to his disciples just like this?

Luke 21:16 – “…some of you they will put to death.”
Luke 21:18 – “But not a hair of your head will perish.”

Is fear holding you back from a venture with God? Fear not! No final evil can befall you! James Chalmers and Oliver Tomkins are more than conquerors through him who loved them.

With you in the shadow of the Almighty,

About The Author:

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, and most recently Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship.

What If Evil Does Befall Me?

by Vaneetha Rendall Risner

The Lord says, “No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent” (Psalm 91:10). But what if evil has befallen me? What if disaster has come into my tent? Does that mean God’s promises don’t apply to me?

Psalm 91 has been close to my heart for over a decade. I memorized it and recited it to my youngest daughter as she fell asleep every night. I assured her that God would protect us, especially after her dad left and our world disintegrated. But even as I said those verses aloud, I wondered how they related to us. Evil had befallen us. Angels hadn’t borne us up. We felt like one of the ten thousand fallen.

I wanted to ask, though I dared not say it to her, “Where was God in this mess?” I wanted to read the Bible and ransack it for promises, but so many of those promises felt distant from me. How was I to interpret the verses promising protection, deliverance, and provision when I was experiencing the opposite?

In the Shadow

Several weeks ago — years after I had first recited the psalm to my daughter — I was reading Psalm 91 again. Encouraged by the opening verses, I just wanted to abide in the shadow of the Almighty. But reading the promises for protection brought up old disappointments.

I was concerned because my physical struggles were escalating, and my right hand was declining rapidly. New weaknesses had surfaced, and I wanted reassurance from God. I wanted to rest on God’s promises, but this passage made me wonder how.

I felt a familiar grumbling bubbling up inside of me. Did I not make God my dwelling place? Why was evil allowed to befall me? Why hadn’t God guarded and delivered me?

I wrote my concerns in my journal. I wanted to know how to understand this psalm. How was I supposed to read it? Should I even pray it? In the quietness, two different thoughts came to me.

Safe in the Kingdom

First, I needed to rethink my definition of evil and even of rescue and deliverance. Evil may indeed befall us, as “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Job hoped for good, but evil came (Job 30:26). Yet the evil that can befall us is temporary; its effects are limited to this life. The worst evil, which is eternal separation from God, will never come near us. And even in this life, what man means for evil, God intends for our good (Genesis 50:20).

In his last recorded writing, Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:18, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.” Paul was not rescued from death. On the contrary, according to tradition, soon after this letter was written, Paul was beheaded by Nero, an undeniably evil man. But Paul was rescued in the fullest sense as God brought him safely into his heavenly kingdom.

I have been rescued from the consequences of my sin. From eternal damnation. From ever being separated from God. True rescue is this: he has rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son he loves (Colossians 1:13). So as I reconsider the terms evil and rescue, I see that God always protects me from evil and always rescues me.

Prayers and Promises

Second, Psalm 91 is a great passage to pray. It is good and right to cry out to God for provision and protection. He is my heavenly Father, and he cares about every detail of my life. He holds my tears in a bottle and redeems my life from the pit (Psalm 56:8; 103:4). Even the hairs on my head are numbered (Matthew 10:30).

He tells me to bring all my concerns to him, which the Psalms model beautifully. They have given me strength to go on and revived me when I was weak. Indeed, the Psalms are the prayer book of the church. But the prayers and promises in Scripture cannot all be interpreted in the way we want. Many of the Psalms are wonderful prayers for this life, but promises only for eternity.

Our Present Help

As I read the remainder of Psalm 91, I am captivated by the end: “When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him” (Psalm 91:15). I sensed the Lord asking, Haven’t I always been with you in trouble? Have I ever left you? Don’t I speak to you? Do you see how I’ve rescued you?

God has gloriously rescued me. He has spoken to me through Scripture. He has been abundantly faithful to his word, and he has never left me.

My discouragement came because I wanted him to deliver me out of trouble on my timetable and to answer all my requests with an immediate “yes.” But as I pondered verse 15, I realized that God’s presence in trouble has been far better than the absence of trouble without him.

Until Earthly Danger Ends

As I read over Psalm 91 now, I see it with a different perspective. God has given me everything I need. I can abide in the shadow of the Almighty forever. True evil will never befall me. Because of Jesus, I will never experience the recompense of the wicked.

When I’m in earthly danger, I can ask that his angels guard me in all my ways. I can count on him as my refuge and my fortress. I can be assured he will be with me in trouble. I can cry out to him for protection. And when I cry out to him, this is my rock-solid comfort: for all the days ordained for me, the Lord will unfailingly give me what is best, until he brings me safely home.

About The Author:

Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to Desiring God. Vaneetha is the author of the book The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering. ...

Source: Desiring God

20 Most Surprising Lessons from Psalm 91 You Probably Never Heard Of

by joshua Infantado

Psalms 91 is perhaps one of the most beautifully written and popular psalms of all time. It is a psalm about God’s unfailing and powerful protection to His people.

In the Hebrew Masoretic Text, Psalms 91 is without attribution, but the Greek Septuagint version adds a superscription saying that the psalm is “of David.”

I think Zondervan NIV Study Bible wonderfully described Psalm 91 as a “glowing testimony to the security of those who trust in God.”

Indeed, Psalms 91 is God’s way of telling us that whoever runs to Him and seeks His divine protection will be saved from calamity and destruction.

However, some people mistakenly thought that Psalm 91 is an unconditional promise of God and uses this psalm as a “proof” that life would be smooth sailing as long as we stay close to our Creator.

This kind of thinking is often preached by pastors and ministers who teach the false and deceptive prosperity gospel.

Nothing can be farther from the truth.

God promised protection, but it doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer anymore.

That’s why in this blog, I want us to take a deeper look at what Psalm 91 really means. I want to break down each word, verse, and sentence to give you a more proper understanding of God’s plan and purpose in our lives.

Join me now as we study Psalms 91.  Let’s begin!

20 Most Surprising Lessons from Psalm 91 You Probably Never Heard Of

Lesson no. 1: Strive to be with God

Psalm 91 opens with this statement:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

The opening verse tells us that he who “dwells.” It didn’t say, “he who dwelt” or “he who will dwell,” but it clearly says, “he who dwells” in the secret place of the Most High. It denotes an active willingness to stay within the territory of God.

It means that you can’t be dwelling in God’s secret place while enjoying the pleasures of sins. It doesn’t work that way.

You can’t be living near to God one day and other days, you are sleeping with the spiritual enemies.

You need to make the decision that you choose to be with God, not just temporarily, but for good. It means that you make God’s companionship as your permanent dwelling.

Actively seek God’s presence. You must have that burning desire, urge, and passion to be with God.

Lesson no. 2: God’s name and titles reveal His character

It is worth noting that God has been referred in this Psalm with different terms.

We read that He is called the Most High, Almighty, LORD, and God. All these descriptive titles and names provide a special insight into the character of God.

It also gives us the FULL assurance that it is truly the most powerful and supreme Being who will protect us all the time!

Now, let us see what those names or titles mean.

  1. Most High – in Hebrew, it is Elyon. It means lofty, elevation, and supreme. Most High denotes God’s supreme authority over all other authorities.
  2. Almighty – in Hebrew, it is Shadday. It means most powerful, denoting that there is no power greater than God in the vast universe.
  3. LORD – in Hebrew, it is written as YHWH. Most scholars would agree that it is pronounced as Yahweh. YHWH literally means the Self-Existent or Eternal One. The name Yahweh itself implies the eternal nature of God. He is outside the physical realm. He is not limited by time, space, and matter! Yahweh has no beginning nor end.
  4. God – came from the Hebrew word, Elohim. It basically means God.

With this in mind, we can have the full assurance that the Yahweh, the Most High, Almighty, and God is on our side. He is the one who is protecting us!

Even if you combine all the forces in the world, including Satan’s evil devices, NOTHING can overcome God’s ability to protect us from danger.

Lesson no. 3: God protects you from hidden dangers

Verse 3 tells us:

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler.

Fowlers or hunters use a snare to catch animals. A snare is a trap, it is well-hidden. An unsuspecting animal can easily get caught and be killed.

In verse 3, God is declaring that He is able to save us from hidden dangers. He can shield us from the destruction that we thought never existed.

Have you ever wondered how many times God has already saved you without you knowing it?

Maybe, there are times when He inspired us to do something that if we haven’t done, we could have been in harm’s way.

Perhaps, there was a reason why you couldn’t afford to buy a new car or travel around the world. Because, maybe, if you are able to do those stuff, bad things could have happened to you.

I remember a church member who quit her job because her boss won’t give her a Sabbath day off. Three months later, the office where she previously worked burned down leaving almost 40 people dead. Now, I strongly believe God took her away from that place before it was too late.

There was also a time when someone offered me a very inexpensive house. I badly want the house, but I just don’t have the money. Months later, a typhoon hit our city and that house was among the properties destroyed by the calamity.

These are some of the ways God protects us from hidden dangers – dangers that could have cost us a lot if it weren’t for God. It teaches us that doing God’s commandment and following His will in our lives protect us from all forms of evil.

Lesson no. 4: God protects you from open dangers

If God can protect us from hidden dangers, then it is certain that He can also protect us from obvious and open dangers.

We can read this promise from Psalm 91 as well:

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

We can see that God protects us from the destruction that lays waste visibly and openly. Whether the danger comes from pestilence or war, we can have the peace of mind that God will help us go through these dangers.

Even if we are cut off or we lose our lives, we still have nothing to fear. God has given us the hope of a better life – a better resurrection in His Kingdom!

Lesson no. 5: God protects you from diseases

Throughout the history of man, we have seen how diseases have claimed millions if not billions of people’s lives. All of us know how painful, inconvenient, and discomforting it is for diseases to afflict us.

Thankfully, we can always seek God’s protection to help us avoid diseases. We read in Psalm 91:

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness.

The psalmists mentioned that God will not just protect you from ordinary pestilence but from the PERILOUS pestilence. It refers to the epidemics and pandemics that have crippled nations throughout the ages.

Pestilence may march around you, but it will never come near you. God has the power over these diseases and you may see its deadly effects, but it will not harm you.

Psalms 91 also talks about the pestilence that walks in darkness. It doesn’t mean that these pestilences only happen at night, but it works like darkness. You can’t see it nor know its progress. It strikes like a thief, without warning. All of a sudden, people are getting sick or dying.

Of course, the night may also harbor agents of diseases that are most active at night, such as mosquitoes and other deadly insects.

The pestilence that walks in darkness is reminiscent of the time when the Angel of Death visited Egypt and took the lives of their firstborn son. God protected His people, while “there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead” (Exodus 12:30).

The promise that the righteous won’t be affected by pestilence should not be understood as an absolute. There are righteous people who were also sickly and stricken by diseases for “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27).

We need to realize that one of the ways that God protects His people is by giving them the right commandments. God expects us to take care of our bodies, keep a clean environment, and live a healthy lifestyle.

Those who don’t follow God’s commandments are the ones who will most likely fall victim to diseases. You can’t ask God to protect you from illness when you yourself destroy your body by lack of sleep, smoking, getting drunk, eating unclean food, and other destructive behaviors.

Like the first point of this blog, you need to actively seek God’s presence, and part of that is keeping His commandments.

Lesson no. 6: God protects you from fear

Here’s a food for thought:

God will not just protect you from the evil, but also from the fear of evil.

Fear is among the enemies of faith. It paralyzes a Christian. It can demotivate, suck the life out of us, and even destroy our relationship with God.

No doubt; fear can be very destructive.

Thankfully, God is here to protect you from fear. Hearing about the rumors of war, diseases that have killed millions of people, and threats from your enemy can be very frightening.

We are all exposed to all these dangers. Thankfully, God promised:

5 YOU SHALL NOT BE AFRAID of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

Whatever time of the day, whether it be night or noonday, God will protect us. Whether we lie down to sleep at night or walk under the sun, God’s shadow will always be with us, shielding us from danger.

Lesson no. 7: God protects you from your enemies

Psalm 91 tells us:

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

I would say this is among the most comforting promises of God. He has promised that He will protect us from not just physical enemies, but also spiritual enemies!

God covers us with His shadow and His feathers. He will cover us so that our enemies won’t see us. He has hidden us in His secret place where no one can go near without His permission.

Moreover, God is our refuge. When everything is falling apart, we have the confidence and hope that we can always run to God and take refuge – make Him our shelter.

If you are among the people who are fleeing from war-stricken land, you would know what it is like to look for a refuge. That’s why these people are called refugees.

Imagine that you can’t sleep at night because anytime, a bomb could drop down your home. In the daytime, you aren’t free to go wherever you want to go as you are afraid a bullet can hit you anytime.

Isn’t it comforting that in times of danger, we can seek God’s secret place and be safe from all these calamities? Thankfully, we have a refuge in God’s presence.

When our enemies attack us, God will be our shield and buckler. God will take the hit. He won’t allow our enemies to harm us.

Lesson no. 8: God brings comfort

Can you imagine having the greatest and highest Authority there is on earth backing you up? Can you imagine that God, the supreme and most powerful Being in the universe is your personal bodyguard?

With this thought, there is a tremendous comfort that we can all enjoy. Knowing that God protects you in your going in and going out, you can’t help but just be filled with gladness and comfort.

Lesson no. 9: God brings peace

Today, there are just so many people who don’t have the peace of mind.

They may be rich, but they can’t sleep at night. They can be poor, but running for their lives. They can be young or old but are worried what the future may bring.

Thankfully, God brings peace to those who seek Him in their lives.

With God’s comfort, it is inevitable to have the peace that comes within. It is not just a peace from without since you can’t control them, but a peace that radiates from the very understanding that God is with you.

God’s protection brings peace to your life. People may be filled with trouble, but when you put your trust in God, you can experience the type of peace that you won’t get from any source.

Yahshua or Jesus Christ Himself said:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; NOT as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”
(John 14:7).

Maybe, you have trouble getting the peace that you needed in your life. You might have looked for it by reading books, attending meditation classes, talking to a psychologist, or hiring a mentor. Yes, this may give you peace, but it won’t surpass the type of peace that you get from God.

Lesson no. 10: God sends His angels to protect us

God is enough to be our Protector. However, He also commands His angels to protect us.

We read:

11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.

It literally means, God instructs His angels to keep us in all our ways. Even if there’s no imminent danger, we can be sure that the angels are just near us. This promise applies not just to the church, but over every single believer.

The angels will be with us when we sleep and when we go our way.

The psalmist added:

12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

The angels are ministering agents. They are powerful and at the same time, caring. They are strong enough to lift us out of danger and tender enough to bear us up in their hands. They carry us like a mother carries her little child in her arms.

Without these angels, it would be easy for us to “dash our foot against a stone.” They would help us to safely walk on our ways and avoid stumbling over destruction and sin.

Lesson no. 11: Satan can twist scriptures

We are familiar with Matthew 4 where Satan tempted Jesus Christ. In his attempt to make Jesus sin, he used a portion of Psalm 91 as part of his evil scheme.

Satan said:

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
and,
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone’ (Matthew 4:6).”

There’s no doubt; Satan can use the scriptures to deceive believers. In the same way that a lot of preachers today use the word of God to create a following and take advantage of them.

Satan is so cunning that he quotes scriptures. Thankfully, Jesus is better than Him. We read Christ’s response:

“It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’ (Matthew 4:7).”

Jesus is teaching us a vital lesson here. Yes, God has the ability to protect us from all forms of dangers, but we must also be responsible enough to do our part. We can’t expect God to rescue us every time we throw ourselves into trouble when we should have known better.

[Related article: Top 20 Surprising Biblical Facts about Satan]

Lesson no. 12: With God, we can overcome Satan

Our enemy, Satan “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). He is also likened to a serpent (Revelation 12:9). Satan is so dangerous that we can’t overcome him without God’s help.

It would be a big mistake to think that we can do it on our own. We need God’s help and protection. Thus, the psalmist wrote:

13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

God is showing us here that nothing is impossible to Him, even defeating Satan who is like a lion and a serpent.

We shall tread or walk upon Satan, the lion and serpent of old, implicating that we are above him. We shall trample him underfoot, denoting a complete victory over our greatest enemy.

All these are possible with God’s help.

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Lesson no. 13: The truth will protect us

We read:

His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

You might wonder, “What does truth has to do with God’s protection?” “Why is it considered as a shield and buckler?”

We read that God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and it can’t be broken (John 10:35). It is highly durable that nothing can even destroy it.

Knowing God’s word and His truth allows us to gain His protection. By keeping what the Bible says, we are protected from harm.

The Bible is a user’s manual that contains all of life’s greatest instructions on how to live this life to the fullest. By following God’s inspired and living word, we are kept from harm’s way.

Take, for example, God’s food law. In the Bible, He laid out what is acceptable as food and which is not (Leviticus 23). When we keep the food law of God, we are kept away from diseases and physical illnesses.

Compare that to those people who eat all kinds of unclean meat. They are more prone to developing life-threatening maladies and medical conditions. (Be sure to read, 5 Compelling Reasons You Should Also Observe God’s Food Law.)

Moreover, understanding the truth of God gives us wisdom on how to make better decisions. Gaining godly wisdom allows us to avoid dangerous situations.

Lesson no. 14: We must trust God

We read in Psalm 91:

2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

In the American dollar, you will read, “In God we trust.” Sadly, we don’t see that practiced often in the lives of these people.

Instead of trusting in God, we trusted in ourselves, our government, our bosses, our jobs, wealth, and material possessions.

Sad to say, all these earthly materials won’t give you the protection in times of danger. Even if you combine all the wealth in the world, you won’t be able to protect yourself from imminent death.

God alone has the power over all the things here on earth. He holds the ability to give you life and grant you protection at all times.

Thus, the psalmist declared, “My God, in Him I will trust!”

Trusting God is more than just a lip service. It is more than a belief. Trusting God means, surrendering your life to Him and letting Him guide your life.

Lesson no. 15: We need to pray to God

Psalm 91:15 tells us:

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him.

While God is more than willing to protect us, we still need to ask for His help through prayer. It doesn’t mean that God is powerless unless we ask for His protection, but God’s ultimate purpose in protecting us is to build a loving and close relationship with Him.

When we make God our refuge and our dwelling place, we can always call upon Him. Since we have already fostered an intimate relationship with God, we can always call upon His name and He will then answer us.

Lesson no. 16: God is with you in trouble

Psalm 91:15 continues;

I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.

We must realize that there will be a time when God will not immediately deliver us from our problems. Sometimes, He lets us be in trouble so we can learn important lessons.

Remember, God allows suffering so that we can develop godly character. God is more concerned with building our character, rather than keeping us comfortable.

Thus, we can expect that the life of a Christian is not always a bed of roses. We should expect that hardships and difficulties going to come our way.

However, we can have the comfort in the fact that, God “will be with [us] in trouble.” He may not deliver us from danger, but He will be there for us.

You see, there’s a difference between your friend cheering you from the bleachers and a friend who is actually running with you. God is like that: when we are in trouble, He won’t be far away from us. He is rather near us.

Sometimes, the only way of escape is by just enduring our trials. In those times, you can count on God to give you strength and courage.

Lesson no. 17: We need to love God

We read:

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him
(Psalm 91:14).

We need to set our love upon God. Albert Barnes explained it best with these words:

The Hebrew word expresses the strongest attachment, and is equivalent to our expression – “to fall in love.” It refers here to the fact that God is the object of supreme affection on the part of his people; and it also here implies, that this springs from their hearts; that they have seen such beauty in his character, and have such strong desire for him, that their hearts go out in warm affection toward him.

Jesus Himself said that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). We must love God not just 50%, 75%, or 95%. We must love Him with 100% of our whole being.

Lesson no. 18: Know God

Psalm 91:14 continues:

I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

God wants to develop a personal relationship with us. How can we do that if we don’t even know God’s name?

Another implication of this verse is that we must know His name, His true character, ability, and desires.

When we know God by reading His word and meditating upon the lessons we learn, then we are more likely to make better choices in life. God can then have a better way of protecting us from all forms of evil.

Lesson no. 19: God rewards the wicked

Verse 7 and 8 tells us:

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Jesus Christ will return to this earth and said, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12).

Everyone has their reward according to their works. For the wicked, that reward would be utter destruction. The righteous would see the fruit of their ungodly ways.

God has set the natural laws that whatever you sow, you will reap. God does not have to do anything. The wicked will naturally reap the fruit of their evil works. If they have sown evil, then they will also reap evil.

God does not enjoy seeing the wicked suffer. In fact, God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (I Peter 3:9).

What is the reward of the wicked? Psalm 91 tells us that they will fall and be destroyed. They will ultimately perish if they don’t repent.

Lesson no. 20: God rewards the righteous

For those people who choose God as their refuge, who choose to dwell in the secret place of God, they will have their reward.

The Bible tells us;

16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

God grants the righteous a long life. By preserving their lives, the righteous reach a ripe age and fulfill their God-given purpose.

I don’t take away the fact that some righteous men and even most of God’s servants of old suffered a premature death. However, for them, their lives have been long enough to fulfill the mission they were sent here on earth.

Through God’s grace, these people will consider that it is better to die for God than to live a life apart from HIm.

The psalmist added that God will set the righteous up high and bestow honor upon him. God will put him on high, above the stormy land, where the wicked can’t reach him. God honors those who honor Him and gives credit to whom credit is due.

Ultimately, the righteous will have the privilege to be called sons and daughters of God, and be part of God’s divine family. They will then be kings and priests to God and shall reign in His kingdom (Revelation 5:10)!

Final words

These are just some of the best lessons that we can learn from Psalm 91.

Indeed, Psalm 91 is a beautiful and powerful testimony of God’s love to His people. He, the highest authority existing in the entire universe, is willing to intimately go down to the level of humans and protect them from all forms of evil.

As Christians, we can obtain the comfort and the peace of mind that God indeed will protect us so long as we are doing His commandments and it is according to His plan.

I hope with these 20 lessons from the 91st chapter of Psalms, you would have a deeper understanding of how God reaches out to us and provide the divine protection that He willingly extends to us.

May we seek to be always with God and make Him our Refuge, Protector, and ultimately, Redeemer.

Psalm 91 - An Invitation to Deeper Prayer

by Sylvia Purdie

Meditations on the Psalms

Psalm 91: Invitation into deep prayer

Come, my love, come in,
into my shadow, under my shelter,
for I AM
How will you name Me today?
MostHigh, AllMighty?
Refuge, Protector?

Come, my love, come in
rest here … if you dare to trust Me
hide here … if you seek a safe place
as bullets fly, bombs blast and viruses spread.
You need not fear the terror of night
the pestilence that stalks the dark
or the destruction that wastes the day!

Come, my love, come fly with Me
held in my claws as my great wings spread
and together we rise
above the land, above the battle
look down on wild animals and deadly threats
trust in me, hide in my soft under-wing.

Come, my love, be still.
You have made the MostHigh your home.
I am your refuge.
Now be still, be with me, just with Me.
Here in this moment, let the sounds of the world fade,
ignore the tasks that await you,
know only Me.
I hold you. I deliver you. I protect you.
I am with you always, in everything.
I rescue and save you. I will satisfy you with Myself.


Psalm 91: The Trust Psalm

Trust! Trust in God!
God is our shelter,
we are safe in his shadow.
God is our refuge,
we are protected in his power.
God is like a mother bird and we are like chicks,
tucked warm under her wing.
God is our shield and our armor
nothing can strike us down.
God is with us all the way
our guard and our guide.
You may trip on a stone
but angels will catch you.
So don’t be afraid of snakes and spiders,
don’t be afraid of evil attack.
In God’s love we are safe, no matter what.
In God’s strength we are saved!
Note on the photo:
A rock pool at Long Bay, Auckland, filled with life!

Source: www.conversations.net.nz by Silvia Purdie 

God’s Peace in the Midst of Danger - A Study of Psalm 91

By Harold S. Martin

The Psalms were used by the Israelites in public worship. For the most part they were hymns and anthems sung by the congregation. The Psalms were also used privately in personal devotions. God’s providence is prominent throughout the book of Psalms. Beyond all the disappointments and problems that we face, we can know that God is here—caring for us and working out His loving purposes.

The 91st Psalm is a general psalm of trust, and is especially meaningful to all those who are exposed to danger and hardship. The words of the psalm are a source of comfort and security and protection—in times of sore need and deep distress. As we enter the Twenty-first Century there are many uncertainties. The central message of Psalm 91 is the certainty that God delivers in the time of trouble, and so we need not fear.

1. A Statement of God’s Protection (Psalm 91:1-2)

Verse 1 begins with the words, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” The “secret place” refers to a place of refuge in the presence of God, where we can share our needs and thoughts and feelings and doubts and anxieties. The “secret place” can be a closet, a quiet room, a workshop, or an open field—essentially a place of prayer and meditation.

The word “dwelleth” means “to abide” or “to remain.” It is about the same as the thought expressed in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you”—then there are certain promises. The blessings promised in Psalm 91 are not for all persons, but for those who dwell (who abide) and live in close fellowship with God. The world doesn’t know, or see, or even care to enjoy such secret communion with God—but the person who dwells in close communion with God “shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Those words imply closeness and nearness—for we must walk close to a companion if we expect his shadow to fall on us.

Think of it! When we abide in Christ, and His Word abides in us, the shadow of God is constantly over us! No wonder the Psalmist could say, “He is my refuge and my fortress” in verse 2. God alone is our place of safety, and we are to trust in Him.

Notice that in the first two verses of Psalm 91, the Holy Spirit mentions four names for God:

“The Most High” (Elyon)—the One who owns everything.
“The Almighty” (Shaddai)—the God who supplies our needs.
“The Lord” (Jehovah)—the eternal, unchangeable One.
“My God” (Elohim)—the creator God who is in control.

These are four magnificent titles for the true and living God. When taken together, these names stress the power, the compassion, and the sovereign control of God. It was verse 2 of the 91st Psalm that inspired Martin Luther to write the hymn about God’s majesty and power: “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He in the midst of flood, when many ills are prevailing.”

2. Confidence in God’s Deliverance (Psalm 91:3-13)

Verse 3 of Psalm 91 begins with the words, “Surely he shall deliver thee.” And verse 4 begins, “He shall cover thee.” Verse 5 says “(Therefore) thou shalt not be afraid.” These words express confidence in God’s deliverance.

The Psalmist uses a number of word pictures to describe how God delivers us. In verse 3, “the snare of the fowler” was a device in ancient times used by a hunter to catch birds and animals. It was an almost invisible net used by bird hunters. We are sometimes as foolish as poor little birds, and are apt to be lured to our destruction by the enemy of our souls—but if we remain near to God (if we abide in the shadow of the Almighty), He will see that the deceiver does not trap us.

Verse 3 also speaks of “a noisesome pestilence”—a deadly epidemic (a plague)—perhaps one that was raging at the time this psalm was being written.

Verse 4 uses the image of shelter under the wings of a mother bird: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.” A missionary in Africa was telling how a forest fire swept through the bush not far from the mission station. After the fire had moved on to the river, he says, “I walked down one of the trails, and noticed the charred remains of a mother hen—sitting on what looked like a nest.” He says, “I carelessly kicked the heap with my foot, and to my astonishment, out from under that blackened carcass ran some baby chicks.” The mother hen had given her life for the brood. They found refuge from the flames by staying under her feathers.

The 91st Psalm (in verses 3-4) assures us that if we abide in Christ, we will be kept safe from hidden dangers and from deadly diseases—and therefore “thou shalt not be afraid.” (There are some hard questions that can be asked about this promise, and we will take a look at the concept again later in this article.)

Verses 5-10 in Psalm 91 picture believers as people trapped in a besieged city, but who are eventually delivered from the assaults of the enemy.

Verse 5 talks about terror at night and arrows flying by day.

Verses 6-7 describe destruction all around, and people being killed on every side.

Verse 8 says the wicked shall be cut down, but verse 10 says the righteous shall be spared.

Verse 13 says that even wild beasts (the serpent and the lion) shall not harm us.

What shall we say about all this?

Some of God’s people are subject to disease (even at an early age). Some of God’s people do fall before cruel enemies (persecution of Christians abounds on earth). Believers sometimes die in plane crashes, and suffer snake bites, and are wiped out by a variety of plagues. The promise of this psalm must not be picked out and applied carelessly, apart from other Bible teachings on the same subject. For example, verse 10, “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” That promise is like the New Testament promise, “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). (Surely not just any selfish, unworthy prayer will be answered.) The Psalm 91:10 promise is like the Old Testament promise, “He healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:3). (Surely not absolutely every disease has been healed.) We will experience suffering and sickness and evil in this fallen world, but we need not be afraid—for several reasons:

One of the reasons we need not fear is given in the latter part of verse 4. “His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” The word “truth” speaks of reliability, fidelity, and that which is real. People often look for truth in the wrong places—in academic learning, in exotic religions, or in mystical experiences. For Christians, the Bible is God’s deposit of truth. Remember how Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth, (for) thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The Psalmist in essence says, “God’s faithful promises (His word) shall be your armor and protection (your shield and buckler)” (verse 4). God’s Word is dependable, and responding favorably to its message provides remarkable protection for God’s people.

Another reason we are not to be afraid is found in verses 11-12. “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.” God’s tender concern for His people is such that He provides a celestial bodyguard to be with us along the rocky path of life. The Bible doesn’t necessarily state that each believer has one particular angel who watches over him, but the idea of guardian angels is clearly Scriptural. We will never know until we get to Heaven how much we owe these mighty servants who attend us on our journey through life. We only know that they are here, and they are performing their ministries of protection on our behalf. And even more—the Bible teaches that the angels of God, with tender hands, will transport our souls into the eternal world at the end of the journey. Jesus describes the death of the godly poor man in Luke 16:22, and says that “he was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.” And verse 12 of the 91st Psalm may include the same concept: “They shall bear thee up in their hands.”

And that leads to another reason why those who abide under the shadow of the Almighty are not to be afraid. There are physical dangers, and there are satanic perils, but out of them all our God will deliver us. “Surely he shall deliver thee” (verse 3). For those who walk with God; for those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High; for those who abide under the shadow of the Almighty—God will deliver us. Whether it means an extension of life on earth, or a transition into the eternal world, is not altogether clear—but Romans 14:8 says that “whether we live, or die, we are the Lord’s.”

Crushing calamities here in this life can only shorten our journey, and hasten us on to our eternal home. What seems like ill to the world is not ill (but good in mysterious form) to the child of God. Losses and sickness only make us long all the more for our home in Heaven. Death is gain for those who abide in the shadow of the most High.

A noted preacher from the past once commented on Psalm 91:9-12 by saying, “Don’t be so nervous, my dear sister, the next time there’s a little storm (or even a great storm); don’t be afraid, my dear friend, when sickness comes into your house. Remember the promise of Psalm 91:9-10, `Because thou hast made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.’ But suppose it should seem right to the Lord to let the plague come to you, and suppose you should die of it—remember, you will all the sooner be in Heaven. Wherefore comfort one another that all is well with those who abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Famine may starve; wars may cause bloodshed; earthquakes may crumble buildings; the next century may witness the wrath of God—but the person who is sheltered beneath the Wings of the Most High God can abide in perfect peace. Like the woman in South America who was calm in the midst of a mighty earthquake said, when questioned how she could remain so composed in light of the recent quake, “I’m just grateful I serve a God who is so big that He can shake the earth.”

William Cushing wrote the words:

“Under His wings, I am safely abiding,
Tho the night deepens and the tempests are wild;
Still I can trust Him—I know He will keep me;
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.”

3. A Summary of God’s Promises (Psalm 91:14-16)

Verse 14 of the 91st Psalm begins with the words, “Because he hath set his love upon me”—and then continues by naming one promise after another.

We are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. The promise of safety and deliverance is made to those who have made God the object of their supreme affection. The promises are to those “who have set their love upon me.”

Eight times the words “I will” are used (or implied) in the last three verses of Psalm 91. God says, “Because you love me . . . I will deliver you; I will set you on high; I will answer you; I will be with you in trouble; etc.” These blessings (and still more) are promised to those who have come to love and trust the most High God.

One of the promises in verse 15 is, “I will be with him in trouble.” Job says our days on earth are few, and they are full of trouble (Job 14:1), but Jesus says that those who believe in God are not to be troubled (John 14:1). When children are sick, we go out of our way to watch over them. We do what we can to relieve their pain; we try and soften their sufferings; we assure them that we are close by. Just so, the most High God promises to be with us in times of affliction. What if we do have more afflictions than others have? Then we have more of God’s company, and the assurance of His special care! God does not allow us to endure sufferings, and leave us there all alone. “Because he has set his love upon me (verse 14), therefore . . . I will be with him in trouble (verse 15).”

Another promise is stated in verse 16. God says, “I will satisfy him with long life”—literally “length of days.” It is not a promise that those “who set their love upon God” shall live to be 80 or 90 years old, but a promise that we shall be satisfied with the length of days which we are given. Those who abide under the shadow of the Almighty—whether they die young or old—will be quite satisfied with life, and will be content to leave it. They would not request more of life even if they could.

It is natural to desire long life. Long life is usually regarded as a blessing. And the promise of verse 16 is, “I will give (the one who dwells in the secret place of the most High), length of days, until he is satisfied with life.”

A time will come when the child of God is satisfied with living:

  • he will have no strong desire to live longer.
  • his advanced years, or the infirmities of the body, will cause him to want to go and to be with his Lord.
  • the bright hope of Heaven will make him feel that he has had enough of life here, and that it is better to depart into another world.

The final words of the 91st Psalm say, “I will show him my salvation.” That is—beyond death—we will see the full meaning of God’s saving love. Here in this life we only understand in part, but the Apostle Paul says that “in the ages to come, he (will) show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us, through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

The promises are these:

“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him on high;
I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will satisfy him with length of days;
I will show him my salvation.”

One of the most fascinating things about the 91st Psalm is that Satan knew it, and memorized it, and no doubt hated it—but used it by distorting it at the time of the Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness. Matthew 4 tells how the devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple and challenged Him to jump down and to excite the crowds. Satan quoted verses 11 and 12 of the 91st Psalm (see Matthew 4:6). Jesus said, “We are not to tempt the Lord our God.”

In the 91st Psalm God is pictured as a protecting Shadow, a strong Shield, a concerned mother Bird. He has angels as servants to accomplish His purposes. Complete immunity from harm is not our experience here in this life, but God’s arms will shield us here on earth, and carry us safely into the presence of the Father at the end of the journey. The promise is for those who “abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (verse 1), and for those who make God’s truth their “shield and buckler” (verse 4).

If you want Christ as your Lord and if you want to come under the protection of these promises:

1) Acknowledge your condition before God. Romans 7:18 says “For I know that in me . . . dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” And Isaiah 53:6 reminds every human being that we have all gone astray.

2) Hear the invitation from Jesus Christ. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

3) Anchor your life in Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9 exhorts us to confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and to believe in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead, and we shall be saved.

4) Enjoy new life in Christ. Second Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that those who are “in Christ” have become new creatures. “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

5) Continue to daily follow Christ. John 8:31 says, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” Revelation 2:10 contains the great promise to those who are faithful unto death: Jesus says, “I will give thee a crown of life.”

Psalm 91 is a Psalm of trust, and as we face the unknown future, we are to claim its promises. We can do that only if we have become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Source: BIBLE HELPS , Robert Lehigh, Editor
Copyright © 2018 Bible Helps, Inc

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