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Psalm 91

91:0There is nothing in Psalm 91 that tells us who wrote it or when. It may be ‘words that Moses prayed’, as Psalm 90. The two psalms do have the same feeling.

Jesus knew this psalm. He repeated words from it when his enemy (Satan) tried to tempt him. ‘Tempt’ means ‘try to make someone do what they should not do.’ The story is in Matthew 4:11.

My Safe Place!

91:0Bible students study this psalm as if three people are speaking.

– A priest (one of God's servants in his house) speaks in verses 1, 3-8 and 9b – 13.

– Someone praying to God speaks in verses 2 and 9a.

– GOD speaks in verses 14-16.

1 Whoever stays in the secret place of the Most High

will remain under the shadow of the Almighty.

91:1There are 4 names for God in the first 2 verses of this psalm: Most High, Almighty, LORD and God. Some of them come again later. They are 4 different words in the Hebrew Bible. Hebrew is the language that the Jews spoke when they wrote the psalms. Jews are people that were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children. This is what the words mean:

– Most High means that God is more important than anyone else.

– Almighty means that God is more powerful than anyone else.

– LORD means that he will never die.

– God means that he decides what will happen.

2 I will say to the LORD,

‘You are my safe place and my strong castle.

You are my God and I am trusting in you.’

91:2A castle is a strong building where you are safe from your enemies. He does not mean that God is a castle. He means that God is as a castle. So, he trusts (or believes that he will be safe) in God.

3 He God really will save you from the trap that the bird catcher hid.

And God will save you from illnesses that cause death.

91:3A trap is what people catch birds in. The bird cannot see it. But God will not let anything catch his servant (verse 3a).

God will not let illness destroy his servant (verse 3b).

4 He will cover you with his feathers.

You will be safe under his wings.

God will do what he promised.

And he will be like big and small shields over you.

91:4Verse 4 gives us a picture of God as a bird! A bird has wings (that it flies with) and feathers (on its wings). It makes young birds safe under these feathers and wings. God does the same for his servants. He makes them safe. Another word for ‘make safe’ is ‘protect.’

There are two shields in verse 4 also, big and small. Shields are what soldiers protect themselves with. God protects – or makes safe – his people. But the shield is only a picture. It is a picture of God's loyalty. Loyalty means that you do not stop being a friend to someone. You do not stop giving them help whatever happens. Wings and feathers are pictures of big and small shields. Here is an example of Hebrew poetry. The Jews wrote the psalms in Hebrew. Poetry is a special and beautiful way to use words. The Jews said the same thing with two different sets of words!

5-6 Do not be afraid of:

· bad spirits at night,

· or the arrow that flies in the day,

· or illnesses that come when it is dark,

· or something bad that may destroy you at midday.

7 A thousand people may die by your side.

Ten thousand people may die by your right hand.

But the danger will not come near to you.

8 Your eyes will see it and watch,

while it destroys bad people.

9-10 For you, LORD, make me safe.

Because the Most High is your home,

bad things will not happen to you.

And there will be no fighting near where you live.

91:9-10In verses 5-10, we read about dangers, arrows, illnesses, bad things and fighting. Arrows are sharp sticks that bows shoot. Today we have guns! Bible students have two ideas about all these things:

– They are a plague. A plague is an illness that people catch from each other. If one person becomes ill, many other people that live near become ill also.

– They are bad (or evil) spirits. An evil spirit is a servant of God's enemy Satan. We cannot see them, but we can see what they do. They make people ill in their minds and their bodies.

These verses tell us not to be afraid! If we trust in God (ask God for help and believe that he will give it) then he will protect us from illness and evil spirits. It is important to know that the psalm does not mean the illnesses that we often get, like colds. It means plagues. Even if we become ill through a plague, God will protect us after we die. We will live with him in heaven, his home. And God will always protect us from evil spirits. In verse 7, ‘by your side’ may mean ‘by your left side.’ In verse 9, it says ‘the Most High is your home.’ This is picture language while we live on earth. It means we can go to God any time and anywhere. We can pray to him and he will hear and answer us. As it says in verse 15. When we die and get to heaven then God's home will be our home. But we must love and obey God for this to happen.

11 For God will tell his angels what to do for you.

They will make you safe everywhere that you go.

12 Their hands will give you help

so that you will not even hurt your feet on a stone.

91:12In verse 11, the angels are God's servants. We cannot always see them, but they are always there to give us help. In verse 13, lions are animals that eat other animals. They even eat people! Cobras and serpents are snakes. When they bite you, they put poison into you. But ‘walk on’ and ‘under your feet’ mean that lions and snakes will not hurt us if we love and obey God. But this does not mean that we have to walk on snakes to see if the psalm is true. It means that if we walk on it without knowing that it is there, we will be safe.

13 You will walk on the lion and the cobra.

The young lion and the serpent will be under your feet.

14 God says I will make the person safe that loves me.

Danger will not hurt him that knows and trusts in my name.

15 He will pray to me and I will answer him.

When he has trouble, I will be with him.

I will save him and make him famous.

16 I will make him happy with a long life.

He will enjoy what I will do for him.

91:16The last three verses are words of God. ‘What I will do for him’ in verse 16 means ‘the things I do to save him.’ We call this ‘his salvation.’ Salvation means ‘saving’ or ‘making safe.’ In the psalm, it means while we are alive on earth. Christians believe it means after we die also.