It seems appropriate in this period of time, with everything going on in our country right now, to reflect on the only real security we have — that which we have been graciously granted by God.
Thinking about this, I turned to Psalm 91. The King James Study Bible says the keyword to describe this psalm is ‘security.’ That would be hard to argue as we start reading this psalm.
Several terms that refer to security are given in this psalm: shelter, shadow and refuge. Beginning in verse 3, the psalmist plainly tells us that the Lord protects us from danger. That will become evident as we delve into this sacred masterpiece.
The KJV Study Bible also has an interesting footnote that states there are two distinct voices in this psalm: one which assures the faithful of God’s protection and the second one is the Lord Himself, pledging His care in verses 14-16.
Because there are some similarities with Psalm 90, some think the author was Moses. However, there are also similarities with Psalms 27 and 31, some think it was David. Regardless of the human hand, we [as believers] know the true author was the Holy Spirit. G. Campbell Morgan calls this psalm “one of the greatest possessions of the saints.” Spurgeon says there is “not a more cheering psalm” and speaks of its nobility. Martin Luther called it “the most distinguished jewel among all the psalms of consolation.”
Ps. 91:1-2. While this is a great promise of blessing to believers, it does not necessarily apply to all believers. A believer must dwell “in the secret place” and be willing to abide under the shadow of the Almighty. What does it mean to abide? Literally, the Hebrew signifies it is ‘to pass the night,’ implying a continuous or constant dwelling, not just a temporary visitation during some trouble or calamity (Nelson KJV Commentary). A famous preacher of the 19th century has this to say about the “secret place of the Most High” and believer’s use of it: “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.” (Spurgeon)
Spurgeon points out that the idea of the “Shadow of the Most High” implies great nearness, as one would need to be very near to another to fall under their shadow. I think it is always prudent to ask ourselves if we are living in nearness to God or have we strayed far away?
Scripture speaks of the shadow of the Almighty in 4 ways:
• The shadow of the rock (Isa. 32:2).
• The shadow of the tree (SS 2:3).
• The shadow of His wings (Ps. 63:7).
• The shadow of His hand (Is. 49 :2).
Frequently, the Psalms claim that God is our refuge and He is trustworthy (18:2; 144:2; 31:6; 55:23; 56:3; 61:4). It is of little meaning to simply say He is our refuge and fortress if we don’t first ask for and use the faith that He will give us.
Ps. 91:3-4. Now we discover how God brings His protection, comfort and care. First, He rescues us from the traps that Satan and the world like to set for us (Ps. 124:6-8). As Spurgeon says, “we are foolish and weak as poor little birds.” The “fowler” works in secret, changes his traps and methods often so that his prey does not get wise, also entices with pleasure or profit and often uses decoys in an attempt to confuse us.
Ps. 91:5-6. What about the ‘terror’ of the night? Sometimes during the night, we are presented with the opportunity to overthink things and dwell on those frightening, unpleasant thoughts that could bring us to a state of absolute despair, separating us from God. Once again, here are Spurgeon’s thoughts concerning the matter: “our fears turn the sweet season of repose into one of dread…” The only way to overcome such fears is to have a close communion with the Lord. Throughout scripture, time and again, we are told that He will deliver us in times of trouble (Job 5:19).
Whether by day or night, terror can strike in many different forms. Arrows, pestilence– they serve to illustrate that terror can come in many different ways.
Ps. 91:7. We are once again reminded that the Almighty is our shield and strength. No harm can befall us unless He allows it. Although we may feel overwhelmed at times, God is SOVEREIGN.
Ps. 91:8. Sometimes it seems like the wicked people of this world get away with everything. Asaph felt this way (Ps. 73:3-5). Persistence in faith will reveal the true end of such evil and the benefit of being a part of God’s family. Asaph realized this (Ps. 73:23-28).
Ps. 91:9-10. The Bible has much to say about taking refuge in the LORD and depicting God as our refuge (2 Sam. 22:2-3, 31, 33; Ps. 2:12; 5:11; 7:1). Note: the KJV and NKJV both render ‘taking refuge’ as putting trust in.
A person will not usually attempt to take refuge where there isn’t any trust. The blessings of God are not automatic. They require some action on our part. While we can do nothing ourselves to achieve salvation, in order to feel the assurance of His protection and care, we must make the LORD our ‘habitation.’ Once we strive for that, we will know the blessing and witness the justice of Proverbs 12:21.
Ps. 91:11-13. One of the many blessings of being an heir to the kingdom is the service of angelic beings (ministering spirits) who serve us as the LORD sees fit (Heb. 1 :14). With their assistance, we can conquer any threat this world puts in our path. “Over force and fraud shalt thou march victoriously” (Spurgeon).
Ps. 91:14-16. In these last few verses, we see that a believer’s trust in God pays off. Not just the angels of God, but He Himself will help us directly. It has been noted that these last two verses are not spoken by God’s people, but to God’s people by the LORD Himself.
Setting your love on God isn’t just simply a matter of waiting for a feeling to come, it involves making a choice to think and act toward God in “ways that express and build love” (David Guzik). He goes on to write that these ways include spending time with God, listening to God, reading what He has written to us, speaking to God, thinking of God in unoccupied moments, adoring God, speaking of God to others, giving to God and making glad sacrifices to Him and for Him (Enduring Word Commentary). When we do, we can experience the bounty of His loving protection and care (Isa. 43:2).