Psalm 91 Commentary
The Security of One who Trusts in the LORD
Resting in the shadow of the Almighty brings the thought of the cloud by day under which Israel sheltered in the desert.
The mention of the refuge and fortress brings out two aspects of protection. Firstly, the refuge is a direct reference to the cities that the LORD provided in settled Canaan. You ran to the city of refuge to escape punishment by death. Secondly, the fortress would be a military structure to which the saint could run for protection against an attack.
In both cases, the saint must run to find protection. It speaks of the urgency with which we need to seek the LORD. We cannot be slow about it.
The fowler’s snare refers to secret traps that are not immediately visible to the saint. This is one thought that the saint needs to keep as they navigate the complex world of sin. You simply never know what is set up to bring your relationship with the LORD down.
The deadly pestilence is a natural occurrence of trouble on a broader scale. It can be community-wide, national-wide, or even global. The saint can trust the LORD to keep him safe even from such plagues. Whether known or unknown; visible or otherwise invisible, it doesn’t matter.
The terror of night may refer to the fear of things we cannot see. These are things that we cannot be aware of. The loose ends of the transaction. The arrows by day refer to trouble that is both visible and present.
But first, the saint must confess the lordship of the Most High. Then the LORD commands His angels concerning you; to guard you.
This is a well-known verse as the devil directly quoted it during the temptation of the man Jesus Christ. Was the application wrong for the man Jesus Christ to have rebuffed it straight away? Each time we pray without saying, “let your will be done”, we subtract from the sovereignty of the Creator God. Each time we petition Heaven without the thought that the LORD is sovereign, we remove from the very nature of the Creator God.
This scripture speaks about the “always-win” position of the Creator God in every battle the saint faces. Bumps and rough patches may exist but in all things, the LORD works for the good of them that love Him and are called according to His purposes.
Verse 14 beautifully highlights the love part that the Apostle Paul references in Romans 8. The saint who loves God stays under the shadow of the Almighty. Then the LORD works in all things, good or bad, for the good of the saint. The saint looks at the battles or bumps here and there with the peace of the knowledge that the LORD is in control, regardless.
The ‘all things’ of Romans has a beautiful expansion towards the end of psalm 91.
If the saint is in trouble, the LORD moves in to rescue them. Trouble may possibly never come because of the perfect protection of the LORD. If the impossible happens and trouble comes, the LORD moves in with His perfect rescue team. All of this is because the saint acknowledges the name of the LORD.
That isn’t all. The LORD runs a 24/7 helpline. The saint can call and the LORD will always answer. Trouble is an impossibility but if it does come, the LORD will be with the saint in trouble. The saint is never alone during crisis times.
Deliverance, honor, long life, and then salvation. The psalmist has unpacked it all. The simplified understanding would be as follows: the perfection of God’s protection means the saint can never be in trouble – what the devil proposed to Jesus. If trouble comes, you probably want to understand it as something the LORD specifically ordains. At this point, you still appreciate the presence of the LORD.
But we shouldn’t be too simple. What happens if one hasn’t taken shelter in the shadow of the Almighty? What happens if one hasn’t run to the city of refuge? There is also an aspect of one acknowledging the name of the LORD and more. All these thoughts and more can help us navigate the so-called loose ends of what the devil throws at you when you go through a bad patch.
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