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Psalms 91:1-16 Commentary
February 24, 2019
New International Version

How to Receive God’s Promised Protection — Psalms 91

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L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.
Teaching the Truth in Love

Psalms 91:1-16
February 24, 2019

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“For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways”

(Psalms 91:11).

How to Receive God’s Promises
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Psalms 91:1-16

(Psalms 91:1) Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

A good roof over our heads will protect us from rain, hail, and snow. When it rains, we can choose to go inside or stay out in the rain. Likewise, we can choose to stay under God’s protecting presence and power or wander away from the LORD’s protection and into temptation. No one and no thing are higher than God and nothing can harm us without His gracious love empowering us to remain faithful as we rely on God’s help and presence.

(Psalms 91:2) I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

If we remain under the protecting power of God, and if we continue to remember that no one and no thing are mightier than God, then we will call out to God when trouble comes. We will keep trusting in God, no matter what we suffer mentally or physically. We will find that God will protect us spiritually and the devil will not defeat God or overcome His protecting presence in our lives.

(Psalms 91:3) Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

A fowler will set a hidden trap to catch and kill the unsuspecting, or he will hide and wait for the unsuspecting to pass his way. God will give us the foresight and wisdom to avoid the devil’s traps and often the ill-will of those who hate God, Christ, and those who trust in the true God and His Word. God will show us how to escape the tempter’s snare, how to patiently persevere when trapped or afflicted. He can deliver us from deadly diseases and harmful situations.

(Psalms 91:4) He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus said He would have protected people as a hen protects her chicks, but they refused Him and His offer. The psalmist describes God’s desire to protect us, and His protecting power is described here as a hen protecting her chicks under her wings. We can seek God as a frightened child in a storm and God will help us. He not only protects us, but He enables us to prevail in battle by providing for us the armor that we need. His faithfulness shields us. We can stand behind God, and for God, and in obedience to God, and He will shield us spiritually, if not also physically in this life; for even Jesus and His disciples suffered.

(Psalms 91:5) You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

Many people naturally fear the uncertainties of the future and unknown results of their actions or the actions of others. If we walk in the dark or in the shadow of death, we know that God, the Almighty, who is Most High, will protect us and be with us to the end. Neither will we fear the arrows shot at us, for the Lord will help us keep doing what is right no matter what opposition we encounter. We must keep praying and trusting in Jesus.

(Psalms 91:6) nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Those who trust in the Lord and follow His ways avoid many of the diseases and disasters that many experience due to having lived unholy lifestyles. Certain diseases seem to inevitably follow some types of ungodly choices and unhealthy habits. We may die of a disease or sudden destruction, but if we follow the Lord, we will be with Him no matter what happens in this life, for He gives all who believe in Him the gift of eternal life.

(Psalms 91:7) A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

Perhaps it seems unbelievable to some, but when we read the Old Testament there were times when the Hebrews were faithful to God and He fought their battles for them and with them and none of them were injured or killed. The battle of Jericho is an example. We can trust God the same way today, for God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

(Psalms 91:8) You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

When the Hebrews entered the Promised Land, and when they faithfully obeyed God, they saw the punishment of the wicked. The psalmist knew verses 7 & 8 were true based on the history of His people and His knowledge of God and His character. If the people were disobedient, still one single godly prophet could make the difference in the outcome of a battle. Read how these 2 verses were literally fulfilled in 2 Kings 7.

(Psalms 91:9) If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,

We need to ask ourselves if we have made the Lord our refuge, or do we trust in someone or some idol rather than God, or perhaps even in ourselves apart from God, or in something (perhaps our money or our social or political connections) more that we trust in the LORD. Do we love to consciously dwell in the presence of the Most High, to consciously choose to remain in His sight at all times, to live in such a way that He will be glad we are one of His children?

(Psalms 91:10) no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.

If we do what verse 9 tells us, because the promise in verse 10 is conditioned on our doing what verse 9 directs, then no “evil” will befall us. We may be afflicted. We may be killed for our faith, but that will only open the door to heaven for us and that will not be evil. For “plague” the NRSV uses “scourge.” A scourge is a whip used for punishment, most often reserved for the disobedient; however, Jesus was scourged and died for us and for our good.

(Psalms 91:11) For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

The devil used this verse when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (see Matthew 4). Jesus replied that we should not test God. There have been times when our guardian angels have protected us from danger, whether we knew it or not. Our guardian angels have possibly protected us from fatal accidents or enemies. But we should not presume on or take this angelic protection for granted: Jesus certainly did not.

(Psalms 91:12) they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

Jesus did not fall for the devil’s temptations, and Jesus never struck His foot against a stone. The angels ministered to Jesus after His temptation and fasting in the wilderness. Jesus said He could have called in an angel army to save Him when He was arrested in the garden, but He lived and died and rose again to fulfill His Father’s purposes in our behalf.

(Psalms 91:13) You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

The New Testament describes the devil as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) and in the Bible the devil sometimes appears as a serpent. The Apostle Paul was snake bitten, but not injured, and he shook the snake into a fire (Acts 28:1-6). His frightening experience and salvation led some who saw it believe in Jesus. The Lord will protect His people from natural and spiritual enemies, and His people will defeat them. We have probably defeated the devil far more often than we know, because God and our guardian angels were fighting for us and with us.

(Psalms 91:14) “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

We must fulfill the condition of loving God and knowing God; then the promise is ours, that God will deliver and protect us (at least from the tricks of the devil). Psalm 91:1-2 reveal God’s name and nature. We can love God and seek to do what will please God because of Who God is and what God does. We know God’s character is totally loving, just, and merciful. God will watch over His own and deliver us from evil (as Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer).

(Psalms 91:15) He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

If we love God, we will seek to live in His presence moment-by-moment. Troubles and temptations will come our way. We will need God to rescue us from time to time, if not ALL the time. But God will be near us and we can call to Him, knowing that God will answer us as He always does. In the presence of the angels, God will honor us for our faithful obedience, if not also honor us before others, for not all have faith.

(Psalms 91:16) With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

In general, God will give a long life to those who love Him and call upon Him in times of trouble. The command to honor father and mother comes with the promise of a long life too (Exodus 20:12). In general, following the LORD’s ways helps us avoid evil people and places of trouble, where no good can be done, but only evil results. When the end of our life does come, God will save us and give us eternal life, by grace though faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Why do you think Jesus used the image of a hen when looking over Jerusalem and talking about the city before His arrest?

2. Think of someone you know who needs the blessings promised in Psalms 91. Pray for that person and for the opportunity to help them.

3. Read Psalms 91:1-2 again. What does the word “abide” mean to you in these verses? How does your understanding relate to abiding in God?

4. Read Psalms 91:9-10. What do people need to do so God can be their dwelling place?

5. What does Psalms 91 teach about angels? How might this teaching help you?

How to Receive God’s Promises

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalms 91:11).

When we read this verse, we might very well ask, “How can this be true for me?” Psalms 91 tells us what we need to do to gain the assurance this verse gives. First, we need to choose “to live in the shelter of the Most High,” just as we might choose to remain inside during a lightning storm. We need to abide or stay so close to God that we remain under “the shadow of the Almighty” no matter where God leads (verse 1). Second, we must make God our refuge (verses 2, 4, 9). He is the One we need to go to for ultimate protection in any situation. Third, we must trust in God, that God has the intelligence, power, and willingness to keep all of His promises to us (verse 2). Fourth, we must love God enough to do whatever He tells us in the Bible (verse 14). We aim to please the ones we love. We try our best for those we love. By loving and obeying God, we stay within the fortress He has made for our protection in this world. Fifth, we must know God’s name (verse 14). We come to know God’s name through the variety of names in the Bible that reveal God’s character and nature. Our faith in God deepens the more we know what His names imply. Sixth, when trouble comes, we need to “call to” God (verse 15). When we call to the Lord by name, He will answer us, be with us, rescue us, and honor us. Furthermore, God will satisfy us, save us, and give us a long life (verse 16). — LG Parkhurst Jr.

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