Psalm 91 – God Protects Us From Eternal Death
Psalm 91:1-16 NIV
There are three parties in this psalm — the psalmist, God and someone whom the Psalmist was directing his psalm to.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
The Psalmist talks about how one who lives under God’s shelter will be able to rest. God has a shelter for everyone. We can rest in His shadow because we will be safe and well protected. But for the shadow of God to cover and protect us, we must come near to Him.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.
The Psalmist used a metaphor, comparing himself as a bird who needed God’s protection from traps set by men and diseases from nature. The Psalmist of course did not intend to convey that God’s promise of protection is absolute, that we will be saved from every danger. “Surely” is an expression of hope and trust in God, that He will act according to His plan, which will ultimately benefit us.
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
The Psalmist used the metaphor of a bird to describe God too, His feathers and wings will protect us. God’s faithfulness is also our "shield and rampart" (the defensive wall of a castle). It is not our faithfulness that protects us but it is God’s faithfulness that does. God is faithful to us as we are His children.
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.
This psalm could have been written when Israel was attacked by their enemies, under the threat of arrows in the day and raids at night. The plague could have threatened their survival while they were under siege.
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.
We will all experience physical death, but we all be saved from spiritual death. We will see tens of thousands of unbelievers experience spiritual death, and we will witness the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling — even the Lord, who is my refuge —
then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
If we live under God’s protection, we will all be shielded from spiritual harm. Spiritual disasters will only fall on those who choose not to come under God’s refuge.
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.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”
God’s words here are not meant to be used literally. His protection is meant for His higher purpose for humanity, which is to save us from eternal death.
For those of us who believe in God, He will “lift you up” on Judgement Day. The lion and cobra here represents Satan, and we will tread on him; we will be victorious over Satan. Because we love God and acknowledge His name, He will rescue us.
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” (Luke 4:9-11 NIV)
Satan used this psalm to tempt Jesus. Just as Satan used God’s words to try to tempt Jesus, he will also use God’s word to confuse us about God’s promises.
“He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
God will answer us when we call upon Him. He will deliver us from trouble, and even honour us. He will save us and the “long life” He will give us is our eternal salvation.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.