The importance of this Psalm in my life cannot be over emphasized. For decades it has given me courage and hope in times of trouble and fear. I want to share what I see in this with the hope that it will do the same for you as it has done for me.
1. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
First, is that you have to want to live for Him: To dwell in the secret place. But what is the “secret place?” Simply put, the secret place at the time of this writing was the Holy Place in the Tabernacle. But today it is in Christ Jesus. Jesus said in Luke 17:20—21 that the Kingdom of God is within us. 2 Corinthians 6:16, “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk in them. I will be their God. And they shall be My people.’” So, if you belong to Christ, you are in the secret place of the Most High.
What does it mean to “abide under the shadow?” It means to live in His domain: under His protection, provision and care. If you want a Biblical example, see Genesis 19:8.
The title “Almighty” is worth noting. The Hebrew can be translated a couple of ways. The Hebrew is El (God) ShaDai. It’s the ShaDai that can become complicated (if you’re into being complicated. I see both translations as being correct and justifiable). It is thought that the word ShaDai is associated with the verb ShaDod, which means to overpower or destroy. But ShaDai is more closely related to the word ShaD. ShaD means “breast.” And, if a word ends with and “i” or “ai” it usually means “my.” Therefore, ShaDai can also be translated to “God is my breast.” Or God is the one who provides for all my needs (see Philippians 4:13). What God is saying is that His parental love for us is all-sufficient: protection, provision, and care. This Psalm is about His protection, provision, and care.
2. “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”
The important thing in this verse is that we need to say this. We need to verbally confess this and make it personal: “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
(A key to having scripture to become a reality is to make it personal. Saying to ourselves what the scripture says God has made available for us. And not just once but until it’s alive in our gut.)
“He is my refuge” is a place of safety, consolation and peace. He is “my fortress” is a place of protection. He is “my God” is a declaration that He is my leader and provider; the Creator that will make a way where there is no way. “In Him I will trust” is a declaration that He is my help in time of need and contrary circumstances: that I will trust what He says in spite of the how things look. If He says He’s may refuge, then that is what He does when I need a refuge.
3. “Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.” This is a promise to rescue us from the most dangerous of all threats: the ambush and pandemic. I say, “Thank you Heavenly Father for recuing me from ambushes and disease. You are my refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
4. “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” During the storms of danger, He covers us with His protection. We take consolation and security knowing He is watching over us. “His truth” (His word: John 17:17) we rely on. If He said He’ll protect us, then we believe He will protect us with what is at His disposal: wisdom, direction, a gift of the Spirit, or some other way. We need to be open to His instructions and guidance and trust Him to see us through.
5-8. “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look and see the reward of the wicked.” As we gain confidence and experience using this scripture, the more comfort it brings when we face the dangers of life, especially the possibilities of societal collapse and the rise of Socialism. The imaginable thoughts of an American holocaust and gulags can trigger unnecessary aggravation and unwarranted aggression toward others who don’t deserve your anger. God promises to protect us, and He’ll lead us to do what we need to do at the right time.
Think about Noah. God warned Noah of what was about to take place and instructed Noah on how to prepare. I’m sure as Noah began to implement God’s instructions that Noah had many more questions. God continued to help Noah in how to construct the ark, build water and feed containers, and a thousand other difficulties that were sure to arise. And God probably didn’t appear to Noah every time Noah had a question anymore than He does for you and me. But God has a way to speak to each of us and get His plan across. Experience is gained in this area as we learn how to be led by the Spirit of God. And you will make mistakes; nonetheless, God got Noah through his tribulation and He can get us through ours.
Verses five through eight are worse case devastations: Bullets and bombs, disease and pestilence, earthquakes, volcanos, tornados, hurricanes, fires and other destructive forces that can cause thousands to die around us. Yet, God can prepare us for and guide us through these terrors. But first we have to know that He is willing to protect us. Psalm ninety-one says He is.
Another important thing to note is verse eight: “Only with your eyes shall you look and see the reward of the wicked.”
For some reason we in the church aren’t taught about basic Christian doctrines that we read in Hebrews 6:1-2: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgement.” It seems that many don’t know about the judgment of God. We, as the Church, seem to think in extremes: God’s to merciful and loving to ever judge or He can’t wait to slap someone down. The Bible gives example after example of how God deals with humans. I won’t go into this subject now, but I wanted to bring to your attention that God will allow the wicked to suffer what they sow: “The wicked plots against the just and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him for He sees that his day is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, to slay those who are of upright conduct. Their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken” (Psalm 37:12-15, emphasis mine). God will cause the wicked to be destroyed and keep those that are trusting in Him safe (2 Peter 2:9). God’s plan for us is the same plan that He had for Noah: “Only with your eyes shall you look and see the reward of the wicked.”
9-16. God has promised that because we make Him our refuge and dwelling place, He will be our deliverance, He will answer as when we pray, His angels will watch over us like bodyguards, and He will give us a satisfying and long life.
But we need to cooperate with Him. A rule of life is “you can’t have what you speak against.” If we are always talking bad about our spouse, then the time will come when you won’t have that spouse. This psalm starts out instructing us to say, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” He didn’t instruct us to say, “It might be God’s will to die; therefore, what happens will happen.”
I’m not promising how things will turn out in your life. No one can. But I’m going to fight the good fight of faith until it’s time for me to leave the battle. I have no doubt that my body will die someday (unless the rapture takes place), and that acceptance frees me to put “my best step forward” and face the future with courage. It’s rather liberating really. The biggest driving force to be alert and ready is to be of some assistance to my family. Think of the fight in these terms: You’re a soldier. You know you’re going to war. Will you do your best to learn the art of war? Or will you just hope that things will work out okay? The best of the best gets killed in battle. But they train hard to mitigate that demise and to be an asset to the team. Ask yourself, “What weapons has God provided and how do I use them?” Anyone who is unwilling to learn and practice using the weapons and armor that they’ve been issued, is unprepared for the worst of times. Make mistakes in training when lives aren’t at stake.
God has made promise in Psalm ninety-one to be our refuge and our fortress, our God, in whom we are to trust. Let’s say what He says and trust Him!