1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the LORD, who is my refuge — 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91 – The ‘air raid psalm’
(Verses 1-8) Psalm 91 was called the ‘air raid psalm’ in World War II when bombs were falling thick and fast on battered London. People found great comfort in it. Psalms are like that: you may read one in a completely different context from the one in which it was written, but God still uses that psalm now to bless those who read it and trust Him many years later. Its basic message is that God protects and blesses you, if you put your trust in Him. That trust is richly illustrated as dwelling ‘in the shelter of the Most High’, resting in the nearness of the ‘shadow’ of the Almighty’, making the LORD God your ‘refuge’ to hide in and your ‘fortress’ which no enemy can take by storm, being sheltered like a chick under its mother hen’s wings, and having God’s faithfulness protect you like an elevated shield. God’s saving power is absolute. If your personal trust really is in God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s saving power will keep you forever. Nothing can stop that, including traps set to catch you, pestilences and plagues, terrors of night, whatever ‘arrows’ are fired at you, and major calamities claiming many others. If you turn from sin and trust Jesus’ death on the cross in your place, when He bore your sins and judgment, God will save you not only from all those terrifying things, but also from the deserved eternal judgement against your sins. God is then in control of your life also: your earthly life will last until He knows when to call you home to Heaven. But unrepentant people will sadly receive ‘the punishment of the wicked.’
(Verses 9-13) Spiritually speaking, if you seek to ‘dwell’ (spend time) with the Lord, God will keep you, protect you, and help you overcome every evil Satan would try to use to ruin your spiritual walk with God. Those things may , like the great lion, be too strong for you to combat or, like a cobra, be too quick and sly to outwit and beat. But God will keep you from spiritual harm and the ‘tent’ of your life will avoid disaster through faith in Christ. This does not mean you have no problems or battles, physically and spiritually. But, in knowing Christ, you know God graciously will protect, keep, help and bless you.
(Verses 14-16) If you know God, and thus benefit from His stated salvation blessings, now and eternally in Heaven, you will:
- Love Him, ‘because He first loved [you]’ (1 John 4:19)
- Identify with and honour His ‘name’
- ‘Call upon’ Him in your prayers
Satisfying ‘long life’ is good. His eternal ‘salvation’ is even longer and even better!