Psalms 91 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
Psalm 91, a familiar and well-loved Psalm, can be divided into three sections
1-2 My refuge (I)
3-13 Your refuge (You)
14-16 God’s refuge (divine I)
I am gleaning insights from one of the better commentaries on the Psalms written by Derek Kidner. The author of the Psalm displays a personal connection to the protecting love of God. He calls God: Most High, the Almighty, Lord, and my God. He says, “I will say . . . my God . . . I trust” reminding us that we do not hold God at arm’s length but dwell and abide with Him. He is my refuge not a refuge. He is my fortress not a fortress. My worship is personal; my faith is personal; my trust is personal. That does not mean it is private and has no relationship to the world and how I interact with others. Personal means my whole being embraced, loves, and trust in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I unreservedly make Jesus Christ my God and follow Him as the only way to God the Father.
Then in the middle section, vs. 3-13, we see the beautiful picture of God’s protection, deliverance, and ultimate safekeeping. How we understand these verses is a bell weather to how we understand the Bible. For instance, if we say we interpret the Bible literally, we can run into trouble. We do not think Christ is a door or a road (John 14). And here we do not think God is a bird. Yet we firmly believe God delivers and protects us like a mother hen. He delivers us from the snare of the fowler. A fowler is someone that traps a bird through deceit and trickery. The trap for a duck is different for a turkey. Satan knows our weakness and will target the very place where we struggle the most. God will protect us from the deadly pestilence meaning that we will not die without God’s decree. Yes, believers do suffer affliction, suffer from want, and die yet not without God’s decree and never apart from His will. These phrases, “snare of the fowler” and “deadly pestilence” are not specific intentionally.
What a tender picture of God’s protection. God is like a mother bird using her own wings to protect her chicks. God covers us and we find refuge near Him. His faithfulness is either a shield and a buckler or His truth will encircle you with a shield at the LXX translates the phrase. Then in 5-6, God’s protection covers us in the day and nighttime.
In 7-13, one could almost interpret these verses to teach that a believer will not be harmed, almost whatever is happening around us. However, do not interpret these words to mean that no harm will ever behalf us. Because we have the story of Job, David, and the life of Paul and especially our Lord Jesus. We also are not literal in our approach because we are not meant to in this passage with so many figures of speech. Furthermore, this approach was taken by Satan in Matt 4:5ff. Satan wanted to interpret that passage literally apart from the qualifying help of other Scripture. This is Job’s counselor’s approach.
But God’s protection is with us in the middle of the night and during the day. And God does make a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous. “You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked” v. 8. In this poetic Psalm we are not to understand this like a promise but as true protection. Many Christians do suffer but there is something worse than suffering in this life – and that is suffering in the next.
In verse 14-16, it appears that God is speaking His promise of deliverance, protection, answer to prayer, presence in trouble, rescue, long life, and the best of all: salvation. This is an overabundance of God’s blessing for the deepest, darkest, and worst times of our lives. He promises His presence which is a tremendous blessing that ungodly and wicked cannot have nor would they treasure.
While we have warned against taking this literally, we must also warn that neither should you disregard these words. God is always watching over us because He loves us. He promises good for us (Jer 29:11; Rom 8:28). His angels do watch over us (Gen 24:7; 48:16; Ps 34:7; Is 63:9). The angels are one of God’s ordained plans to care for us.
While God is a mighty God, this Psalms reminds us of His tenderness, promise to protect us, and His ever-present comfort. So, when affliction and trouble do come our way, we do not think we are alone or on our own. We do not presume God is busy helping someone more important. Rather we know He covers us, loves us, and protects us.
Father, for some of us, thinking of You as our Creator is easier than thinking of You protecting us with Your “wings” over us. You are so tender, compassionate, and kind. Grant us more of Your Spirit so we may see You as all-powerful, yet loving and wise. May Your protection be over our suffering brothers and sisters who endure persecution. We lift them up to You for safety and comfort. In Christ’s strong name. Amen