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There may be a lot of things we fear. In the comic strip this weekend for The Born Loser the son wakes up from a nightmare and calls to his Dad from his room that he wants to leave the light on because it was scary. Of course the Dad calls back from his own room to not be a baby, but the son insists saying "it was big and green, and it had yellow eyes and sharp fangs, and it was drooling and making hissing sounds." But the father insists that there is no such thing and the son must turn off his light which he grudgingly does. The house goes dark. But then in the last panel of the cartoon strip the Dad turns his light on so he can go to sleep! There may be things that cause us anxiety and fear but Psalm 91 assures us that God will be there for us to protect us.
An interesting feature of this psalm in the Hebrew is its constant switch from third person to first person and ending with God speaking. The Revised Standard Version eliminated some of these occurrences to make it sound smoother, but I have noted their uses in the individual verses. It is as if the author wants to express all views his, others, and Gods, and he freely interchanges them. This is a beautiful picture of how we need to be in unity with each other and with God so that we are all united in our faith and our thoughts.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty.
The psalmist begins by saying that we can dwell in the shelter of the Most High and in the shadow of the Almighty. We are protected by the one who is higher than any other force or power in the universe, and we can be under the protecting shadow of the one who is all powerful. No matter what you are facing, God can be your shelter.
Poteat comments, "The author is a simple soul, but he has a profound faith. Amid the perils of this world he finds his only abiding security in the shadow of the Almighty."
Have you ever noticed when children are hurting, whether physically or emotionally, they just like to bury their faces into your chest. They feel secure in the protecting arms of their parents and grandparents. When we are hurting, we have someone we can come to, also. We can be just like the children and hide in the shelter of the Most High or abide in the shadow of the Almighty. God will put his arms around us and give us comfort.
Will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust."
The psalmist acknowledges that we can trust in God because he is our refuge and fortress. God is a refuge from trouble and a fortress to protect us against the attacks of the enemy. No matter what we are facing, God is there for us. In these first two verses, the psalmist uses four different names for God el elyon the most high God, el shaddai the almighty God, yahweh the Lord who keeps his covenants, and elohym the Creator of the universe. This is who is on our side no matter how dark the storm clouds may appear.
The Hebrew here is < rma)o > omar which means "I will say."
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
There are times when we come into contact with danger, but the psalmist assures us that God will deliver us even when we are caught in a trap of this world or when facing sickness or death. God will rescue us from our trouble. But sometimes we will have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Never fear for God has said he will deliver us.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
Just as a bird protects its chicks, so God protects us. This verse tells us God will protect us with his pinions, which are the large, primary feathers on the bird, and he keeps us safe under his wings. It is as if Gods presence completely encloses us in his safe grasp. But not only will God protect us, but he is also faithful. His faithfulness is a shield and buckler, which is like armor protecting us. Do you feel alone and vulnerable? Know that God will protect you with his divine armor!
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.
Whether its day or night, Gods protecting hand is upon us. I suppose the worst terror most people can experience is when it happens during night time or in darkness. But no matter what trials you may be facing, know that you dont need to fear.
The early American Indians had a unique practice of training young braves. On the night of a boy's thirteenth birthday, after learning hunting, scouting, and fishing skills, he was put to one final test. He was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then, he had never been away from the security of the family and the tribe. But on this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick woods, surrounded by darkness, and he was terrified! Every time a twig snapped, he visualized a wild animal ready to pounce. After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around, the boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of the path. Then, to his utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father. He had been there all night long.
God is the same way. When we think we are all alone and helpless, God is standing right there to protect us from harm.
Nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
There are some times when circumstances seem to be stalking us. We are confronted with more than a nebulous fear a real problem working to destroy our faith, our peace of mind, our security, our health, or our family. No matter what is stalking you, realize that God will keep you from those things that stalk in darkness and those things that threaten to destroy us during the day. Our faith can rest confidently in him.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you.
This is such a wonderful promise. Even though others may be facing plague, pestilence or trouble, God has promised to be with us and keep us from harms way. Many people are afraid of whats going to happen on January 1st, 2000 with the ramifications of the Y2K problem. Apparently, they havent read this verse. Even though there may be great catastrophe, which I personally doubt, but even then we could rest assured that Gods protecting hand will be upon us. So we have no reason to panic or be afraid.
You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation.
This verse tells us that the wicked will be recompensed for their evil behavior. But those of us who have made the Lord our refuge, and have made the Most High our habitation will be spared Gods judgement. No matter what you may fear or what may have you tied up in knots, rest assured that God is your refuge. Allow him to be your habitation your place of safety.
The Hebrew here in verse 9 is < ysix;ma> machsiy which means "my refuge."
No evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.
Instead of the word tent, we should substitute the word house. No evil shall befall us and no scourge will come near our house. God will keep us from harm. Even though our house may be small and humble, it is guarded by God because his children live there. Trust in the one who is the Good Shepherd and will take good care of his sheep.
Remember this you can reach God faster than you can dial "911".
For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
These are the verses that Satan quotes against Jesus during the temptation. But what a wonderful promise they contain. God dispatches angels to watch over us and to guard us in all our ways. Verse 12 tells us the angels will bear us up and keep us from even dashing our foot against a stone. I wonder how many times has Gods protecting hand been upon us and kept us from danger without us even realizing it.
We had some friends years ago who were traveling down the highway when suddenly their car began to go 20 miles per hour slower than the speed limit. This was very frustrating to this older couple as people were passing them and honking their horns. But the car simply would not go any faster. It had never done this before so it was the more confusing. They prayed but to no avail. They were becoming quite upset as they continued down the highway for miles. But then suddenly they came upon a multi-car crash. As they slowly drove by the ambulances and wreckage, they suddenly realized that if their car had not slowed down, they would have probably been part of that pile up. A short time later, their car resumed its normal speed, and they realized that God had sent his angels to watch over them.
God loves us just as much. He will protect us and keep us. Let us learn to trust in God and depend on him.
You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
Now the psalmist lists some real dangers for travelers in his day. No matter what may come up against us, we will walk right over the problems. Even though we may feel our troubles will swallow us up or eat us alive, this verse tells us that we will trample them under foot. Do we really believe this? Sometimes I think we dont enjoy Gods blessings because we allow fear to stop us from going where God wants us to go. We see danger ahead and instead of walking over it, we run away in fear. God has promised that he will take us through the danger. Let us trust in him and walk in faith.
Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
Starting with verse 14 there is another change in who is speaking. Now, we have Gods promises to the psalmist and to us. Notice that God says because we cleave to him in love, he will deliver us. When we dont look to God for our help and deliverance, we are bound to do foolish things which may get us in worse trouble. We need to have faith that God will deliver us and protect us as he promises. This verse also says that God protects us because we know his name. In other words, we have a personal relationship with him. We call him by name. Too many people live like the devil all week and never pray or otherwise call on God until they are facing some major catastrophe in their life. That is not the time to cry out to God. He will protect those who know him. Let us not be a stranger to God.
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him.
Here is a wonderful promise. When we call to God, he will answer us. He does not ignore our prayers. He hears us, and in this verse God tells us that he will be with us in trouble. What is it that has caused you to cry out to God? What is it that is burdening you down? Remember, that when we call to God, he will answer us. At the end of this verse, God says that he will rescue us and even honor us. We who deserve nothing from God are not only rescued but also honored. How privileged we are to worship such a wonderful Creator.
Scroggie remarks, "The promise to deliver is repeated, because it is the central thought. This is a magnificent and magnanimous reward for trusting God! And what God says He will do, He will do."
With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
The psalm ends with a promise of two things a long life and salvation. God will help us have an abundant life while on this earth, and he gives us salvation that we may have eternal life when we leave this earth.
Ballard wrote, "The modern world has given itself to the pursuit of security. Men and nations have tried to provide for every stage of life and to remove the causes of fear. They have failed. ... What is needed is an adequate faith, an assurance that through the chances and changes of life there is a divine protector in whose wisdom and grace we may find peace."
Whatever insecurity you may be facing, whatever turmoil or confusion that may be on the horizon, learn the lessons from this psalm. God will be with us when all things seem hopeless. God will be there for us when we face terrors and dangers. God will be with us to protect us and keep us safe. This is our assurance. It is up to us to be willing to accept by faith Gods promises of protection.