Weds 15th February - Psalm 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Meditation on Psalm 91
This is one of the few psalms that has no title and no author linked with it. Some think that this is a continuation of Psalm 90 which is attributed to Moses. Some think this has come from David. Ultimately, this has come from God and is an inspiration to all those who put their trust in Him.
Campbell Morgan said of this psalm, ‘this psalm is one of the greatest possessions of the saints.’
Yet, on a first read through we might be forgiven for thinking, hang on, this doesn’t seem to make sense. On the one hand, there are clear indications that, although the people of God may go through some tough times, there is the promise of safety and security. On the other hand, the psalmist is saying that such things will not happen to a child of God. We know, from personal experience and also the experience of the people of God down through the centuries, that bad things do happen to humans, whether children of God or not. The important lesson to be learned is that whatever comes our way, we have a place of refuge and a place of safety and security.
- A SAFE PLACE TO BE Verses 1-2
What beautiful phrases – ‘the shelter of the Most High’ and ‘the shadow of the Almighty’. Spurgeon quotes
Duncan, who says, ‘This is an expression which implies great nearness. We must walk very close to a companion, if we have his shadow fall on us.’
This also speaks of time – to ‘dwell’ and to ‘rest’ both speak of time; of not rushing in and out so that we can be confident that we know where we are, who is with us and the blessings that will follow.
And the psalmist gives us assurance as we think of the relationship into which we have been brought as a child of God whereby we can say, with confidence, ‘My refuge, my fortress, my God…’
Spurgeon refers to other verses that speak of the ‘shadow of the Almighty.’
- Psalm 63:7: ‘Because you are my help, I will sing in the shadow of your wings.’
- Isaiah 49:2: ‘…in the shadow of His hand He hid me.’
In these two opening verses, the psalmist uses four names of God.
- ‘Elyon’ which means the Most High.
- ‘Shaddai’ which means the Almighty.
- ‘Yahweh’ which means the LORD.
- ‘Elohim’ which means My God.
This is the God that the psalmist confidently says, ‘In whom I trust.’
This is the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob.
This is the God whom Ruth came to know when she told Naomi that she was going back home with her. She confidently said, ‘your people will be my people and your God my God.’
And, through faith in the Lord Jesus, this God is my God.
What a wonderful assurance that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe is MY God.
- A PROMISE OF ACTION Verses 3-4
The psalmist gets personal in these next verses. He uses the pronoun, you, which is in the singular.
Here the psalmist gives us some specific situations in which we can trust ‘my God.’
There is ‘the fowler’s snare’. A fowler is someone who hunts wild fowl for food or for sport. The fowler would set a trap with bait which will attract the birds.
That is exactly what the devil does to the people of God. He sets a trap. He did that when he tempted Jesus.
He did it to Adam and Eve when he made the statement, ‘you won’t die’.
Then there are the pestilences. Pestilences are deadly and overwhelming diseases that affect an entire community, both Christian and non-Christian.
In the midst of these traps and pestilences we are guaranteed ‘covering’; we are guaranteed ‘finding refuge under Hs wings’: we have the assurance of His faithfulness as our shield and rampart’. (a rampart is a low wall which gives fortification.)
- A PROMISE OF VICTORY Verses 5-6
The psalmist is not saying that the people of God will be immune to a wide range of attacks from without and within.
What the psalmist is saying is that as and when we have these experiences, we need not be afraid.
He lists some of these situations and circumstances.
- terror of night, of day, of darkness, of death
- arrows, pestilence, destruction
Whilst we may experience these, and other pressures, we have the assurance that we are on our way to heaven while the wicked go to their punishment.
- A RENEWED PROMISE Verses 9-13
The psalmist wants to reinforce what has already been said in that the promises of God are real and applicable to each of us in whatever situation we find ourselves.
- No harm
- No disaster
As we look at our world today we see so much harm and disaster which Is affecting all people, whatever their beliefs.
The promise to the people of God is that ultimately these things will not harm us nor overtake us. Spurgeon makes a wonderful statement in which he says, ‘it is impossible that any ill should happen to the man (or woman – in brackets are my words added) – who is beloved of the Lord … ill to him is no ill, but only good in a mysterious form. Losses enrich him, sickness is his medicine, reproach is his honour, death is his gain.’
There is security and hope for the people of God as God has provided His angels to be with us and to enable us to know His presence to the extent that we can have the victory over enemies that are greater and stronger than us - e.g. the lion and the cobra.
Kidner refers to these words as ‘…depicting God’s servants not merely as survivors but as victors, who trample deadly enemies under foot.’
We know that these promises do not mean that every child of God is immune from these issues.
Look again at verses 11-12 and then come to Matthew 4:1-11.
Come to the final temptation when Satan uses the two verses from Psalm 91. We know what happened to Jesus when He went to the cross after His 3 years of ministry.
As a line from the Merchant of Venice says, ‘the devil can cite scripture for his purpose.’ And this is what he did in the wilderness. His mistake was to misquote the psalmist and also to apply the words wrongly.
- A GOD OF ACTION Verses 14-16
The psalmist ends this psalm, as he begins it, with a rallying call to trust God. And he reminds us of God’s love and faithfulness.
We come back to those great verses of promise when God spoke to Moses about leading the people of God out of Egypt - Exodus 3:7-8 … ‘The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey”
Notice what God said:
“I have seen…”
“I have heard…”
“I am concerned…”
“I have come down…”
Now come to the last verses of this psalm and see how many times God says, “I will…”
“I will rescue…”
“I will protect…”
“I will answer…”
“I will be with him…”
“I will deliver him…”
“I will honour him…”
“I will satisfy …”
“I will show him my salvation.”
And all this to those who love the Lord.
What confidence we have in ‘MY God’.