Last week we talked about claiming promises from God. But we didn’t talk about the verses that got me started on that study. Psalm 91 is packed full of promises that are clearly meant to include the reader. There isn’t even a writer credited, so there’s no clear historical context, and the psalm is addressed to all who make the Lord their God. There’s nothing to distract from the fact that this psalm was written for everyone who’s in a relationship with God, including you as a Christian today.
Claiming Relationship With God
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of Yahweh, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” (Ps. 91:1-2, WEB)
The psalm begins with a promise to those who remain, inhabit, and abide (H3427, yashab) in the hiding place or shelter (H5643 sether) of the Most High God. They will “stay permanently” (Strong’s H3885 lun) in the shadowing protection (H6738 tsel) of El Shaddai.
Because of that promise, we get the only “I” statement from this psalm’s writer. They claim the Lord as “my God” and say they will have confidence in Him (H982 baach). And they demonstrate that trust by making Him their refuge, shelter (H4268 machaseh) and defensive stronghold (H4684 matsud). That’s something we can do as well.
Stripping Fear of Power
This psalm contains truly incredible promises of protection in the midst of trials. We’d probably prefer it if God’s protection meant we didn’t have to go through trials. But to be delivered “from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence,” there must be someone trying to trap you or a pestilence threatening your life (Ps. 91:3, WEB). And if “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand,” then you must be in a location where people are perishing right and left (Ps. 91:7, KJV).
He will cover you with his feathers. Under his wings you will take refuge. His faithfulness is your shield and rampart. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day; nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that wastes at noonday. (Ps. 91:4-6, WEB)
God doesn’t always promise to keep us from scary situations. But He does promise to be there for us in the trials. He’s promising that we don’t have to live in fear because He’s got us. We can trust Him.
Believing God’s Faithfulness
Because you have made Yahweh your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. (Ps. 91:9-10, WEB)
We all know good Christian people who’ve gone through terrible trials. They have been fired from jobs for their faith, seen their children die, battled chronic health issues for years, and a whole host of other things. I can’t tackle the problem of pain in a single blog post (though I can recommend the book Where is God When It Hurts?). But even in the midst of everything falling apart, we have to believe God keeps His promises.
Perfect faithfulness is one of the things that makes God God. The promises of protection here are real. And God has fulfilled them many times throughout history (see the book A Thousand Shall Fall for one such story). But He doesn’t always keep His promises in the way we might want Him to. For example, the promise of angelic protection in verses 11-12 don’t give you leave to do stupid things expecting God to save you (Matt. 4:5-7). And even if we’re not doing anything wrong sometimes the promise to keep us from evil happens on a spiritual level more than a physical one. Indeed, that point is brought out in the psalm’s last verses.
Promising Permanent Protection
God has a different perspective than we do. What’s going on in our physical lives matters to Him, but He also sees more long-term. If He promises deliverance, it can be fulfilled in the next life just as easily as in this one. When He promises salvation, it can mean saving us from eternal death even more than from physical trials.
Because he has set his love on me, therefore I will deliver him. I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him, and honor him. I will satisfy him with long life, and show him my salvation.” (Ps. 91:14-16, WEB)
Psalm 91 concludes with God speaking directly, confirming the promises made earlier in the Psalm. His words speak to a loving relationship He has with His people now and of how it will carry into the future. God is interested in helping and saving us in a more permanent manner than just assisting us with our struggles in this life (though He will take care of that as well). He wants us to become part of His family for eternity and everything He does has eternal consequences in mind.