Psalm 91:1 (and the rest of Psalm 91) Is the Biblical 9-1-1 to Call in Our Time of Trouble!
Recently, the city of Lahaina in Maui, Hawaii was mostly destroyed by fire. A few years ago, Sandi and I spent a week in Lahaina enjoying this paradise on earth. Our hearts are deeply saddened and words cannot explain by this tragic disaster as well as the grief and sorrow of the Hawaiians who are trying to cope with the aftermath of it.
In an instant, anyone of us could find ourselves in such an unexpected situation as those in Lahaina—without home, material possessions, the necessities of life readily available to us, or even deprived of physical itself. There for the grace of YHVH go each of us continually! Each day of life is a blessing and a gift from the Almighty not to be taken for granted.
When you find yourself in an impossible situation, this is the time to look upwards. In fact, we should be doing this each day of our lives, so that when troubles hit us, we are already prepared mentally, emotionally and spiritually to call our direct line to heaven for help!
With these things in mind, let’s review Psalm 91 starting in 91:1, and what I call “the 9-1-1 of the Bible.”
Psalm 91:1, Secret [Heb. cethar]. This word refers to “a covering, shelter, hiding place or secrecy,” and is from the root word meaning “to hide or conceal.” When troubles comes our way like a tidal wave, the natural human reaction is to stand and fight, to freeze in fear, or flee in panic. In psychology this is known as the fight, freeze or flight response. The Bible teaches us there is both a time to fight and a time to flee (Eccl 3:1; Matt 24:16; 12:14 cp. Eph 6:14; Luke 19:13), but at all times we need to be hiding in the secret place of our relationship with our Almighty Father in heaven, to which the latter part of this verse alludes. Out of that place, and from under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty and in his throne room, we will not be cowering in fear from our enemies, but we will find the courage, will and stamina to stand firm in faith, and, if necessary, to come out and to fight the enemy not in our own strength, but in that of Elohim as led and guided by his Spirit.
The Most High [Heb. El-yon]. This is one of the descriptive titles of Elohim and signifying his exaltedness, overwhelming majesty and supremacy or omnipotence. As such, Scripture reveals that Elyon is the place of protection for Israel (Pss 9:2; 91:1, 9).
Abide [Heb. luwn].This wordmeans “to lodge, stop over, pass the night or abide.” A lodge is a place where one temporarily spends the night. When dark times come our way, we need to stop over, spend the night, run to and abide in the throne room of the Almighty! This speaks of prayer, worship, praise and studying the Word of Elohim.
Psalm 91:1, 4, Under the shadow of the Almighty…under his wings.(See notes at Ps 61:4.) According to the ancient Jewish sages, Moses composed this psalm for the tribe of Levi who dwelt under the shadow of the wings of cherubim that stood over the ark of the covenant in the Tabernacle of Moses—a physical representation of YHVH’s throne room in heaven. The sages go on to explain that the psalmist describes the devout man of faith who lives with Elohim in his heart, and who never leaves Elohim’s shadow. Such a man is a true biblical hero of faith to whom Elohim pledges (v. 16) he will satisfy with long life and show him his salvation (The ArtScroll Tanach Series Tehillim/Psalms Commentary on Ps 91). This psalm ends with the promise of the blessing of long life to those love and serve YHVH, and beyond that, salvation, which is the Hebrew word Yeshua—the very name of the coming Messiah who would offer his people deliverance from the ultimate enemy, namely sin and its death penalty. The result of this deliverance is the glorious divine gift of eternal life through faith in Yeshua the Messiah—the supreme gift and blessing of all! This psalm is a prophecy pointing to the Messiah.
In Jewish understanding, the Tabernacle of Moses wasn’t complete until the glory of YHVH’s presence took residence in the tabernacle’s inner chamber of the holy of holies. This was evidence that YHVH was making this habitation his own in a most intimate way. How was it possible, the sages ask, for the Creator of the universe to inhabit a mere tent? They explain that he focused his presence into this tiny spot. This isn’t unlike a magnifying glass that reflects the suns rays into a small but focused point on a piece of wood or paper. Were the earth closer to the sun, it would be burned up. Yet the sun’s light can be brought to the earth in a concentrated form that will not cause harm. This is exactly what Elohim did when he incarnated Yeshua into the womb of Mary. The sages had the understanding that the holy of holies is a picture of man’s heart that the Creator wants to indwell, which is the most sacred sanctuary of all.
The conception and birth of Yeshua was an ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy. The fire of the Set-Apart Spirit that came down upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two was also a fulfillment of this desire of YHVH of which the fiery glory cloud that dwelt in and over the Tabernacle of Moses was a prophetic portent. Yeshua promised his disciples that through this same divine fire he would dwell in their hearts after his death, resurrection and ascension. The result of this divine encounter of Elohim with those in the upper room resulted in many repenting of their sins and coming to faith in Yeshua the Messiah (Acts 2:38–41), which is the greater message of Psalm 91.
Psalm 91:2, He is my refuge [Heb. machseh]…fortress. This refuge is a literal shelter to which one flees in times of trouble to find hope. It is like a fortress.
In him I will trust [Heb. batach].This word connotes the feeling of safety, security and confidence to the point where one can be careless or exist without cares.
Psalm 91:3, Deliver [Heb. natsal].This word means “to snatch away, rescue, save, strip, plunder, to tear oneself away, deliver oneself, to be torn out or away, be delivered, to strip off or spoil.” The Hebrew word has a much more expansive meaning than the simple English word deliver. The idea here is not just delivering one from one’s enemies, but a stripping away from or spoiling one’s enemies. One can almost imagine an enemy who is bewildered by the unexpected action of the superior force of a deliverer who suddenly swoops in like a night raider and snatches away his illegally gained loot from out of his hand. This is what our Almighty Elohim promises to do for his children who abide under the shadow of his wings.
Snare of the fowler.This is literally referring to a bird trap and the trapper. In ancient times, birds were trapped and used for food. This could be a poetic picture of Satan and his demons who fly through the air searching for human prey. A biblical example of birds being metaphors for destructive and deceiving evil spirits can be found in Genesis 15:11 and Matthew 13:4 and 19. This verse, then, is a promise to the saint of protection from evil, demonic spirits.Continue reading