Psalms 91:1-6 ESV
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.’”
“For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.”
So, what is this saying? And how does it compare to the teachings of Jesus and of the New Testament apostles? And to whom does this apply?
Who Dwells in God’s Shelter
Well, first off it applies to all those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who have made the Lord their dwelling place, their refuge, and trust, and fortress, and who hold fast to the Lord in love (see all of Psalms 91). So, what does all that mean?
I believe it means that our dependency is on the Lord in all things, that we are in intimate fellowship with him, by genuine faith in him, and we are worshiping him in spirit and in truth, and we are giving our lives to the Lord as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Him.
The Lord Jesus is not just a part of our lives, but he is our life. We live in him and him in us. We have died with him to sin, and we are living to him and to his righteousness, in his power and strength. And we are walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh.
Our minds are set on God and on things above and not on the things of this world or of the flesh. We are in continual communion with the Lord, seeking his counsel and direction, and we are following him in obedience. Righteousness is what we practice, and sin is not what we practice.
[Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7]
Compare to New Testament Teachings
I know that there are people who love to teach this Psalm as proof text that if they believe in Jesus Christ that nothing can hurt or harm them, and that nothing bad will ever happen to them. But is that what Jesus taught? Is it what the NT apostles taught?
Jesus said that if we follow him with our lives that we will be hated and persecuted and treated like he was hated, persecuted, and treated. He said that what they did to him they will do to us. And Paul and the other apostles bear testimony of the truth of that by their own lives.
In the Old Testament we read about Job, who was a righteous man who loved and served the Lord, and yet the Lord allowed him to go through enormous suffering, as well as the prophets of old also were hated, persecuted, falsely accused, and imprisoned and put to death, too.
So, we can’t use this Psalm to contradict Jesus’ words or the words and testimonies of the NT apostles. We are taught that faith in Jesus Christ involves us sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death. So, we will suffer for the sake of righteousness.
He Will Deliver You
So, we have to interpret this Psalm in light of the teachings under the New Covenant. Sometimes the Lord does deliver us from our physical suffering, but sometimes he doesn’t, or he doesn’t immediately. He allows us to go through trials and persecutions and hardships, for his glory.
So sometimes he delivers through our suffering, i.e., he delivers us from the fear of what we are going through, or from the temptation to retreat or to lose faith, and he strengthens us through what we are going through. He helps us to persevere and to endure and to keep the faith and to not doubt.
He teaches us lessons through our suffering, too, like learning to rely on him and not on ourselves. And he conforms us to his likeness, and he humbles us, and he prunes us to make us more like Jesus. He matures us in our walks of faith, too, and we grow into Christ and draw closer to him.
He is our healer, too. He heals us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And he counsels us in the way that we should go. He gives us spiritual armor to apply to our daily lives, too, so that we can fight off the devil’s evil schemes against us. And he will give us courage, so we do not fall.
[Rom 5:3-5; Matt 24:9; Jn 15:18-20; Jas 1:2-4; 1 Pet 1:6-7; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; 2 Co 4:17; Heb 12:3-12; Rev 3:19; Eph 6:10-20]
Psalms 91:14-16 ESV
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
If we hold fast to the Lord in love, i.e., if we cling to him, to his teachings, to his holiness and righteousness, to his salvation from slavery to sin, and to walks of obedience in him, and if righteousness is what we practice, and sin is NOT what we practice, we are spiritually protected by grace from evil.
He is faithful to deliver us from all sin, not because of any human efforts to try to gain his grace and salvation, but because of walks of obedience in him as a direct result of having been crucified with Christ in death to sin that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness.
He protects us from all evil and from giving in to temptations (the snare) to sin against our Lord. For he made a way of escape for us out from underneath temptation to sin when he died for us on that cross. Now through God-given faith in him we can resist the devil and flee temptation.
Sin should no longer have mastery over our lives so that we obey the lusts of the flesh, for Jesus set us free from our bondage to and the control of sin over our lives. We just need to walk in that freedom in the power of God’s Spirit and in the strength of the Lord.
For, God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return.
So, if we continue in willful, habitual, deliberate, and premeditated sin against God, we will die in our sins. We won’t have eternal life with God because we did not hold fast to the Lord in love, and we did not make God our trust, but our trust was in our flesh and in humans, instead.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 15:1-11; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14]
Not Be Silent
An Original Work / December 3, 2012
Based off Psalm 30
O Lord my God, I’ll exalt You.
I called for help,
And You healed me.
O Lord my God,
You brought me from the grave.
You spared me from hell.
Sing to the Lord, you saints of His;
Praise His holy name today.
Weeping may remain for a night;
Joy at break of day.
Our debt He did pay!
O Lord my God, I said, “I will
Ne’er be shaken.” Secure, I felt.
O Lord my God, You forgave me.
Confident I stand in You.
When I could not see
Your face I was dismayed.
I called to You. O Lord,
You are my help.
You were merciful to me;
By Your grace set free!
O Lord my God, I’m so thankful for
Salvation through my Jesus.
You turned wailing into dancing;
Clothed me with Your joy today,
That my heart may sing
To You and not be silent.
Praise Your name.
O Lord my God,
I will give you
My Lord, I adore!