Summary: Ps. 91 is filled with glorious promises. But are they really true?
“Soul Talk: How Safe Am I?”
We have a security system at our house. I know it works on the doors because we’ve tripped the alarm by opening them when the system’s been on. But there is also a code we can punch in at the control box which, we’ve been told, would immediately bring emergency assistance without setting off the alarm. But how do we really know? Sometimes I would like to punch in the code just to see if anyone comes quickly. But unless I want to get into deep trouble, I need to trust and believe.
I feel much the same way when I read this glorious Psalm 91. After all, the Psalmist is eloquent and picturesque when he speaks about THE PROVISIONS OF SECURITY. In verses 3-13 we see, first, what GOD GIVES. The first provision God gives is in verse 3: “Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.” The fowler’s snare is a trap set to catch prey. It symbolizes danger from the enemy. It means that God gives SAFETY from the traps and snares the devil sets for us. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “…lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…” This provision is the reason we can ask with confidence.
God also provides SHELTER. (4a) “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge…” Bird experts say that the spreading of wings with birds is very common. When a predator or something dangerous approaches, the bird instinctively spreads its wings and the younger birds scurry underneath for shelter.(1) So it provides a beautiful image – which is why it is frequent throughout the Bible. Dt. 32:11(MSG) – “He was like an eagle hovering over its nest, overshadowing its young, then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air, teaching them to fly.” Ps. 36:7 – “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Ps. 57:1 – “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” Even Jesus used the image (Mt. 23:37 NLT): “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings…” When the storms of life are whipping and whirling around us, God will shelter us.
God’s third provision is that He is our SHIELD. (4b) “…his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” The Psalmist knew that God is faithful to all He created (36:5): “Your love , Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” He knew that God’s faithfulness would pass through the generations. (Ps. 119:89-91 NLT): “Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven. Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created. Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans.” There are times when only the faithfulness of God can give us hope. (Lam. 3:20-23) “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” God’s faithfulness is our shield. We sing it often: “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided – Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
God provides safety, shelter, a shield, and SACRED GUARDIANS. (11-12) “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Hebrews 1:14 teaches us that angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. God sends His angels to keep us safe and on track in all our ways. In essence, God has provided us with designated drivers to escort us home.
God graciously gives us tremendous provisions. And the Psalmist shows us what WE GAIN. First, we gain FREEDOM FROM FEAR (5-6) “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.” Since God provides security, what is there to fear? The Psalmist also says that we gain FREEDOM FROM EVIL. (7-8) “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” Evil will not take over our lives and control us. I like how the Living Bible paraphrases this: “Though a thousand fall at my side, though ten thousand are dying around me, the evil will not touch me. I will see how the wicked are punished but I will not share it.” Thirdly, we gain FREEDOM FROM HARM AND DISASTER. (10) “…no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.”