Recently, due to the lock down and the threat of an invasive virus, many believers have looked to Psalm 91 for encouragement and comfort in these difficult times. So I thought it would be good to look at this Psalm in more depth to receive the blessing of God through His word. Rather than looking at the Psalm all at once, I thought we would take it just one verse at a time – so fasten up your seat belts – let’s go…
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
The person who dwells – the word is yashab in Hebrew and can be translated to sit or stay. It refers to a place where you have your abode. It is not a one-off stop and then move on – it’s where you live. God wants our fellowship with Him to be constant rather than running to Him when we are in trouble. Nevertheless, our position of fellowship with Him is that we are in Christ.
Of the Most High – ‘elyown and means, basically, the highest authority – God the supreme and absolute power that we can appeal to. The root word is ‘alah meaning to ascend or come up before Him.
Shall abide – luwn – this means stay, usually through the night – to pass the night. During a period of darkness, we hide through the night season under the shelter of Almighty God. He is the highest authority we can trust in during every dark shadow that comes over our lives.
Under the shadow – tsel – basically, this is a place of protection under the shade of the Almighty God. The root word is tsalal and means a place of darkness through shadow due to God hovering over us. Interestingly, God protects us from the night by His own darkness.
Psalm 139:12 b
…the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
If we are in darkness, but under His wings, we are actually in the light of God’s protection.
Of the Almighty – shadday – this is the name of God who is all-powerful. He is the God who is omnipotent. The root word is shadad and means to be powerful and impregnable. He is the One we entrust our lives to. He is our impregnable tower of strength and deliverance.
Verse 2 coming soon!
Psalm 91 v 2
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
From verse 1, we saw that the psalm starts off in the 3rd person: He that dwelleth in the secret place.
I will say of the Lord
Now at the beginning of verse 2, we have the first person: I will say of the Lord. It goes from a theoretical understanding to a practical one. The psalmist is declaring that they are in this place of trust in the Lord – it is personal to them. It is the same for us – we need to take possession of this position. The New Testament puts this relationship a different way:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in Him, the same will bring forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)
‘I will say’ is in the imperfect tense. It is incomplete action which is ongoing. We have to be in a continuous state of abiding – this will not cease to be ongoing until we are called to be with the Lord.
He is my refuge
The ‘He’ here is Jehovah, the ‘I am who I am’. He is the One who will protect us from lies (Isaiah 28:17), and from danger. The word for refuge comes for the root chacah, which means to run for sanctuary. It has an element of safety from falsehood as well as physical danger. We are in constant need of protection throughout our lives. In these days we are in a continual barrage of deception. We need to ask God to keep our eyes open to see the truth – may He protect us from the lies.
And my fortress
God is our place of defence. He is the stronghold which is impregnable. The apostle Paul echoes this by writing: If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31b.
The word for God here is elohiym. It is the plural word of elowahh. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are watching over those who trust in Him to deliver them. Nevertheless, note the personal aspect again – He is my God. The personal relationship is always there.
In Him will I trust
Here we have the imperfect verb form again. We are in a constant relationship of trust in the Lord. The word for trust is batach and refers to a bold and sure trust. It is not a trust that dwells on doubts, but a trust that is totally confident in the eternal God of heaven.
Verse 3, coming soon!
Psalm 91 v 3
The words, ‘Surely He shall deliver’ comes from the word natsal and has the idea of rescue and deliverance from many kinds of danger, including sin.
The snare here is a trap that was spread out, generally to catch birds. So basically it is made to catch creatures that can fly. The enemy of our souls is an expert in how to ensnare us and keep us pinned to our earthly natures.
This is why the trap setter is called a fowler because this individual is an expert in ensnaring and trapping birds
And from the noisome havvah pestilence deber, in the context of this passage, means a calamity that can cause absolute ruin and devastation that leads to death. This can be through a plague, but also through the mischief of someone with a wicked design.
As we looked at in verses 1 and 2, if we are abiding in Christ, we are safe. Does that mean that we will not die from a disease of any kind? Certainly not – but our place of safety is within Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 1:30). In this secret place, we are saved from foolishness, the results of wrongdoing, and ultimately, the loss of our souls.
As we continue with this Psalm, we shall see that it is pointing to the Messiah, and we shall look more at the relevance of these verses in that light later on.
Verse 4 coming soon!