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!
Psalm 91 v 4
It is essential to recognise that Psalm 91 is actually speaking to the Messiah. He is the one who the Father promises protection. The same security that we can enjoy can only be achieved through our relationship with the Father through Christ.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
He shall cover thee
Cakak To screen or to cover
With his feathers
The Hebrew here is ‘ebrah, and it comes from the root word is ‘abar meaning to soar. It is the feathers that cause the bird to soar high into the heavens.
His ways are so far above our ways, and yet Christ was willing to come down to us to offer God’s protection and salvation to us through Himself. Being in Christ is to step under the feathers of God’s protection. This is a place where nothing can separate us from His love. Romans 8:35-39.
God offers protection to all, but sadly, so many reject Him.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Matthew 23:37
and under his wings shalt thou trust
Wings kanaph. Here the word wings is differentiated from the word feathers. God offers His people His protection under the most trying circumstances.
Thou shalt trust
This is the word chacah and really means to flee to for protection. This is something we have to do. We flee to Him. Whatever we face in this life, only He can bring us through.
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler
This is ’emeth in Hebrew. This is a significant word and concept, not only in this Psalm but throughout the scriptures. The word ’emeth is contracted from the root word ‘aman, which has the concept of support. It is the truth of God that supports us in our troubles. We put our faith in His truth, and His truth then supports us through our trials because it is our sure foundation.
Shall be thy shield
This shield was one that protected the whole body of the combatant. God’s truth protects us in every area of our lives.
Here the protection of the shield in compounded in this Hebrew word cocherah. This word means to surround. God’s truth completely envelops us.
An important point here is that the shield of the Word of God is paramount for our protection. So many think that they can change His truth to suit their own ends or tickle their itching ears. His truth cannot be changed, even if we seek to change it. Those who turn from the truth of His Word, where then is their shield? It is not a trivial thing to make God’s word fit man’s agenda. His truth is unchanging.
Be careful of those who come to you with false truth because they will lead you out from the place of God’s protection. You will let down the shield of truth, and something will hit you.
Verse 5 coming soon!
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Thou shalt not be afraid
The Hebrew here is yare’ and has varying connotations of meaning depending upon the context. In Psalm 91, it is speaking to us of something that should cause us to be afraid in the natural.
for the terror
What is it that causes us to fear? Pachad refers to the feeling of dread that we feel when we are afraid.
The Hebrew word layil refers to the night as a period. Yet it can also signify a period of hardship and suffering like it does in this Psalm. It is a period of darkness, rather than a period of light. It means to twist away from the light as the day gradually turn s into darkness. The thing to remember when passing through a night season is that it is a cycle of time. The darkness will pass and become light again. This then calls for patience, as we move through tribulation, knowing that the Lord will keep us through it. When we look down through history, it is incredible to see how many saints have faced trial and hardship.
Nevertheless, they did not twist away in fear. Still, these saints continued through the adversity in patience, holding God’s hand through it all. Some have had to pass through the veil of death, but since Jesus has overcome death, He is the only One qualified to bring us through to safety to the other side.
nor for the arrow
The arrow refers to those things which can pierce us. The scriptures never shirk away from the truth. Things in this life can cause us harm. There are many Old Testament and New Testament saints that suffered immensely. They were pierced through with much suffering. Nevertheless, the Bible does not tell us to turn away from suffering, but rather not to fear it.
The word ‘uwph means t fly about. It is those things that could injure us in an instance of time. Many people are debilitated in fear of unexpected things that could come upon them. This could include sudden sickness, the death of a loved one, financial calamity. Yet the Lord tells us not to fear these things – our times are in His hands.
What is the difference between the terror by night and the arrow by day? The night season is a period of suffering that we may have to walk through. The arrow is a sudden sharp event that comes suddenly upon us. As we noticed in verse 4, if we are walking in His truth, we are shielded from the arrows that fly at us. The Bible does not tell us that the bolts will not come at us, but that we should not fear them.
Verse 6 coming soon!