Reading Psalm 91 as a Prayer
How will we respond?
We trust God with our eternal life, but do we trust Him with our daily life? Now more than ever, we need God’s presence, peace, and power. One way to reaffirm His work in our lives, even as we face a danger-filled world, is to go to Him in prayer.
Psalm 91 is a passage that many Christians have used as a model for prayer during days like we’re experiencing right now. Let’s read it together, line by line, and let God minister to our spirits.
“Those who go to God Most High for safety will be protected by the Almighty.”
God personally invites us to dwell with Him. But there’s a condition—our part must come first. To abide in the shelter of the Almighty, we have to choose to dwell in that shelter.
“I will say to the Lord, You are my place of safety and protection. You are my God and I trust you.”
Here, notice the word “say.” We must learn to verbalize our trust. The more we say it out loud, the more confident we become in His protection.
And we can believe God Himself will become our defender against all invading issues!
“God will save you from hidden traps and from deadly diseases.”
The enemy knows what will most likely hook us, and he knows what thought to put into our mind to trap us. But this phrase, “deadly diseases,” can be translated as “an epidemic that hits masses of people.” So God is telling us, “I will deliver you from whatever comes with the intent to destroy.”
“He will cover you with His feathers, under His wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection.”
The Bible gives us two “wing” metaphors, and each means something different to us as Christians. In Isaiah 40, the prophet tells us that if we wait upon the Lord, we’ll renew our strength, mounting up with “wings of eagles.”
The metaphor here is much different. This wing is a sheltering wing, as in a hen with her chicks, and suggests words like “protection” and “familiarity.” Not everyone is covered, though. Once again, it is up to us to make that decision.
In Matthew 23:27, Jesus speaks to those who weren’t willing to seek shelter in God. He says:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
Notice this contrast! God is willing, but some are unwilling. He offers His protection, but we have to accept.
“You will not fear any danger by night or an arrow during the day.”
Jesus reminded us over and over again during his ministry, “Do not fear.” Here, we can see why: God offers twenty-four-hour protection!
But how do we keep from being afraid, especially in days like these? It’s easy. Fear comes when we think we are responsible for our protection. But protection is already there! God has provided it, whether or not we receive it. It comes with the choice to accept what Jesus has already accomplished!
In Ephesians 6:12, Paul echos this promise, telling us we have a “shield of faith to extinguish all the flaming darts of the enemy.” God promises protection against arrows!
“You will not be afraid of the disease that comes in darkness.”
Disease is the only evil the psalmist mentions twice. I believe God has a specific reason for repeating this promise, and I think it’s because He knew fear about sickness would run rampant. It’s almost like God is saying, “I said it once, but did you really hear me? Just to be sure, I’ll say it again.”
He gives us this assurance over and over again, and He is faithful. His Word is true, no matter how the circumstances look.
We’re in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, and it reminds me of a quote from Charles Spurgeon. In it, he referenced a German physician working in London during the cholera epidemic, who said:
“He who can live in the Spirit will be fearless. The best preservative in times of cholera is the heavenly medicine against the plague and pest.”
“You will not be afraid of the destruction that lays waste at noon.”
Destruction is a kind of evil—it’s evil over which people have no control. God tells us very plainly not to fear destruction.
In Mark 4:39, Jesus rebuked the storm, and the sea became calm. That act demonstrated that God is not the author of such things. If He were, then Jesus’ action would have been a contradiction of His Father’s work!
However, there is no place in the physical world where you can go and be safe from all destruction. We can never fully anticipate what will come, but no matter where in the world you are, we can run to His shelter. We can receive everything God provided.
The secret is knowing that everything for which God has made provision is clearly spelled out in His Word. If you can read where He has offered it, you can have it. His provision is always there!
That’s why our goal should be to renew our minds. We want to have more faith in God’s Word than we fear what we see happening around us.
“Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you.”
God knew there would be times when we would hear so many negative reports. What we hear on the news is very dark, and when you go to the store and see empty shelves, it can almost feel overwhelming.
That’s why He warned us ahead of time: We have a choice to make. We can choose to run to His shelter, or we can live as the world does, unaware that we can live free from fear.
“No harm will come to you; no disaster will come to your home.”
Are you worried about your family? This verse addresses our concerns. When our hearts are steadfast, and we trust His faithfulness, we will not constantly feel afraid that something terrible is going to happen.
“He has put His angels in charge of you, to watch over you wherever you go. They will catch you in their hands so that you will not hit your foot on the rock.”
Many of us read these verses with very little thought. But only after we get to Heaven will we realize all that has happened around us in the angelic realm. We can all recall close calls where we literally escaped a tragedy with no explanation.
God is in control—not our circumstances. Hebrews 1:14 says, “Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent out to serve those who are to inherit salvation?”
Angels are continually helping us! Charles Spurgeon wrote this:
“The protection here promised is exceeding broad as to place, for it refers to all our ways, and what do we wish for more? How angels thus keep us we cannot tell. Whether they repel demons, counteract spiritual plots, or even ward off the more subtle physical forces of disease, we do not know. Perhaps we shall one day stand amazed at the multiplied services which the unseen bands have rendered to us.”
“You will walk on lions and cobras; you will step on young lions and snakes.”
Here, God reminds us of the authority He has given us in His Name! The enemy, on the other hand, has no power over our lives!
We all deal with those subtle, negative thoughts that cause us to doubt or fear. Some sneak up on us, but others are like lions hitting us in the face. We are no longer to put up with the fears that once gripped our hearts and made us feel powerless. God has given us authority in Jesus’s name over those negative thoughts.
“Because he has his heart set on me, I will deliver him. I will protect him because he knows my name.”
The author changes from talking in the third person about the promises of God to allowing God to speak to us directly in the first person.
As we set our hearts on Him, His promises toward us are indulgent. Love is the cohesive bond between each of us and our Father.
But once again, love requires presence and nearness. We must spend time with Him, both alone and collectively. It reminds me of John 21:15, when Jesus asked, “Peter, do you love Me?” We need to ask ourselves, “Do I really love Him?”
His promise is conditional. It is for those who have genuinely set their hearts on Him. As He said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will obey Me!”
Here are all the promises of deliverance in Psalm 91!
God promises to deliver us from:
- Lion problems (life-threatening attacks)
- Young lion problems (constant harassments)
- Cobra problems (sneaky attacks that seem to come out of nowhere)
- Dragon problems (unfounded fears, past fears, and imaginations)
- Terror by night (the evils of war, terror and violence)
- Pestilence (plagues and deadly epidemics)
- Destruction (those evils over which we have no control)