The Believers’ Promise of Protection
The great truth laid down in Psalm 91 is that those who live a life of communion with God are constantly safe under His protection. This Psalm is a glowing testimony to the security of those who trust in God. And scholars believe that David was probably the author. Let’s read the first few verses.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the most High (Elyon)
Will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Shaddai)
I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust.’
Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare,
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you will find refuge:
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
Nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand.
But it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” (Psalm 91:1-8)
Bible scholars tell us that in the very first verse of Psalm 91, God is called by two names: Elyon and Shaddai. “He who dwells in the shelter of Elyon, will rest in the shadow of Shaddai” (Psalm 91:1) Elyon tells of the greatness of God, and Shaddai speaks of His providing care. The word “shad” means “breast” which suggests mother-provision. In the following verses of this Psalm God is called “Jehovah” and “Elohim”. Each of these names for God picture different aspects of His power and promise. There is no reason to question His sufficiency. How much revelation of God do we need before we are led to trust Him?
This Psalm tells us that God Himself will be our Protector. “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings will you find refuge.” (Verse 4) This verse alludes to the hen gathering her chicks under her wings. And it reminds us of a time when Jesus cried over Jerusalem telling the people there that He wanted so much to take them under His wings like a hen does her chicks, but they were not willing. (Matthew 23:37) God is offering us such an amazing Refuge, the shelter of Himself with His wings around us, but we have to be willing to come to Him! His faithfulness will be our shield and rampart. (Verse 4b) God wants desperately to guard his people and he doesn’t mind being compared to a hen guarding her chicks, and a man of war in armor protecting his own.
For a long time I did not understand this Psalm. I knew too many people who loved and trusted God and still suffered long illnesses or struggled with crushing disabilities and trials. But this Psalm does not promise that God’s children will escape all troubles! The promise here is that God will be with us in our troubles and in due time God will deliver us from them. “I will deliver him,” (Verse 14) and His deliverance is a double deliverance, a living and dying deliverance in trouble and a final deliverance out of trouble! (Verse 15)
When St. Paul was troubled by the thorn in his flesh he prayed and prayed to have it removed. But God’s answer was that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength will be made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) In some way God planned to bless Paul through his trouble – his thorn in the flesh. And God will bless us through our troubles too. And answer our prayers. We don’t understand why or how God can bless us even in our troubles, but we must accept this by faith. Scripture says: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
In Verse 7 it says: “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand.” To die without Christ is a fearful thing. When we see our loved ones and friends and neighbors around us die we know that we will also die someday. If we have Christ we do not need to be afraid because we know that our heavenly Father will be with us in death. Scripture says: “Oh death where is your sting, oh grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-56) Scripture tells us that we have the victory over death through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let’s read the rest of this Psalm. (Psalm 91:9-16)
“If you make the Most High your dwelling
Even the Lord, who is my refuge
Then no harm will befall you,
No disaster will come near your dwelling.
For He will command his angels
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.
You will tread upon the lion and the adder;
You will trample the great lion and the serpent.
‘Because He loves me, says the Lord,
I will rescue him: I will protect him
For he acknowledges My Name.
He will 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 will I satisfy him.
And show him My salvation.’” (Psalm 91:9-15)
These promises are sure to all those who have “made the Most High their habitation.” To those who choose Him and His ways. Who make it their duty to be at home in God. Whatever happens to them – whatever- nothing shall hurt them. (Verse 10) We shall tread over the lion and the adder. The devil is called a roaring lion and Scripture says: “The God of peace shall tread Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20) We are speaking about spiritual mysteries that we don’t understand and accept by faith. But we are living that mystery in Christ and that is exciting beyond words.
Psalm 91 ends this way: “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” (Verse 15) Not everyone who loves God has a long life! So what does this mean? Perhaps it means that God’s people will live long enough in this world to accomplish the work that they were sent here to do. And in the other world, they shall have eternal life. This crowns the blessedness: “I will show him my salvation.” We can only imagine what all of this will be!