Psalm 91 is one of the most recited Psalms in history, especially at the moment of adversity. It is also known as Soldier’s Prayer. Reciting this particular chapter, we feel protected and encouraged. Even some people believe the power of protection on the battlefield at the very moment of fight.
Beyond such belief and pep talk effect, just like all Bible verses, the more we read and contemplate on them, the more we can find the profound message. Psalm 91 is not only for encouragement and protection but more for contemplation, making us spiritually steadfast.
Staying at home in the current situation, instead of being disturbed by various news and self-indulgent thoughts, we can recite the words of God and contemplate on them. Staying at home, we can practice the personal retreat with reflection, prayer, meditation, and contemplation.
Psalm 91 starts as follows:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.Psalm 91:1-2
While we are struggling in this world with various sufferings, the place we dwell in should not be here. In this world, nothing is eternal, and everything is changing and unpredictable. We can never find anything peaceful and stable.
There is, however, something eternal that exists.
Beyond all these illusions and delusions, we can dwell in the secret place of the highest. In doing so, we can abide under the shadow of the almighty.
It is the kingdom of heaven. We can’t find anywhere but within and beyond. Only in this realm, we could call the name of God. We see the faith that we trust Him.
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.Luke 17:21
Trusting Him within and beyond, we could consider this world as a mere surface. There are still various threats and sufferings. Nevertheless, we see them as something superficial, constantly changing and unstable.
Nothing is controllable means that these are, as James said, like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.James 1:6
Thus, the second part of Psalm 91 is as follows:
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.Psalm 91:3-8
We are facing various threats every day. The Psalmist figuratively described them as the snare of the fowler and the noisome pestilence. Throughout history, we have been fighting against cruel violence and infectious diseases. Numerous people have died ever since because of these threats.
Despite these threats, we feel protected.
It does not necessarily mean that we are safe. Sufferings and threats exist in reality. Nevertheless (or perhaps because of them), we feel His feathers that cover us. Under His wings, we see His Truth (the kingdom of heaven and eternity) that acts as our shield and buckler. Facing various sufferings and threats, we see we are spiritually protected. We are in this world, but not of this world.
What we see in this world, therefore, is the reward of the wicked. There is seemingly an endless cycle of the consequences caused by human struggles. In Buddism, people call it karma.
Abiding with Him, however, what our eyes behold is a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. We could be in the deep inside with spiritual protection.
And the third part of Psalm 91 describes such spiritual protection.
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.Psalm 91:9-13
God is our refuge in the highest and our spiritual residence. In this realm, we no longer care about our physical location. Wherever we go, whatever we do, and whenever we are, beyond space and time, there is a special domain that we feel at home.
That is to say; we have already found the Way, the Truth, and the Life, where no evil befalls us.
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.John 14:5-6
Also, there are His angels who take care of us. They keep all our ways. And this is also the well-known phrase that the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness. The devil challenged Jesus to jump from a pinnacle of the temple, even doing so, the angels should protect Jesus.
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.Matthew 4:5-7
As Jesus answered back to the devil, spiritual protection is never what we doubt and test. If there is any doubt and act of testing, we can’t call it spiritual protection in the first place. Jesus cited the following verses.
Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.Deuteronomy 6:16
If so, how do we know we dwell in the secret place of the highest and abide under the shadow of the almighty, just like Jesus did?
In the last part of Psalm 91, finally God spoke up for this question.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall 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 shew him my salvation.Psalm 91:14-16
It is our love for Him, delivering us from evil. We set Him on high, knowing His name. We call Him in trouble. And, He will honor us. He will satisfy us in His salvation.
In His answers, we can see the relation between Jesus and His Father, and our possible relationship with Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit. With them, we can recall the following particular verse, and the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught us.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.John 3:16
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.Matthew 6:9-13
Image by Krzysztof Karwan