Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Under His Wings


Under His Wings

Psalm 91


Do you wish that there was a safe place to flee when times are hard? The writer of this Psalm found such a place. From this psalm we will see that the faithful have always faced the same struggles, fears, and obstacles – and the writer had found that God was, in reality, the only place where one could find refuge. “One striking feature of Psalm 91 is that it consists of three clear movements marked by a change in pronouns. The first [one] is marked by the pronoun “i” (1-2). It expresses the psalmist’s personal faith in God. The second movement is marked by the pronoun “you” (3-13). It is a word from the psalmist to the reader or listener, his word to us. The final stage is marked by the divine pronoun “He” (14-16). Here, God speaks to the reader to declare what He will be and do for the one who loves Him and calls upon Him” (Boice p. 747).


My Refuge


91:1 This verse answers the question, “To whom does this psalm apply?” The promise of victory or security is for the person who dwells in a favorable relationship with God, the person who flees to God for shelter. The verb to dwell means “to remain, stay, tarry, endure, and have one’s abode”. It suggests continuance and permanence. God is the refuge for the person who has entirely placed their trust in Him. These promises do not apply to the person who only uses God as a last possible choice, and then quickly abandons Him when the pressure is over. “Do you live in close fellowship with God? Do you rest in the shadow of the Almighty? Is He your place of habitual dwelling? The psalm is written to urge you to trust and cling to God in all circumstances” (Boice p. 748). “The Most High”: This name for God immediately cuts every threat down to size. The expressions “Most High” and “Almighty” are significant, for they stress His power as the sovereign ruler of the world. “Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty”: The words, “will abide” demonstrate that trust in God is our choice. God does not force anyone to abide under His protection. The word “shadow” is a metaphor taken from a mother hen who gathers her chicks under her feathers (Psalm 17:8-9; Matthew 23:37). From the verse in Matthew, be impressed that God earnestly wants to be our protector, but only if we will come to Him for protection. Anyone can abide in the shadow of the Almighty! 91:2 “My refuge and my fortress”: The terms “refuge” and “fortress” are military terms; God is the writer’s defensive position against all enemies, for this is an extremely personal relationship, as seen in the expression “my God”.

Your Refuge


Having stated his own personal faith in God, the psalmist now commends that faith to us, taking six verses to explain what God will do for the one who trusts Him. The most striking feature of this section is the use of the singular you throughout, which is a way of saying that these truths are for each person individually. They are for you if you will truly trust or abide in God” (Boice p. 748). 91:3 “It is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper”: Kidner calls this section, versatile protection. “Most of these dangers are of a kind which strike unseen, against which the strong are as helpless as the weak. Some, like the snare of the fowler (3), are obviously metaphors for the plots which would entangle our affairs (140:1-5) or compromise our loyalty (119:110)” (p. 332). “A figure for insidious (deceitful, entrapping) attempts against his life” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 860). This section does not mean that those who trust God never die from infectious diseases or suffer from an enemy’s plot, for Christians do get sick and are taken advantage of at times. Yet, it does suggest that God’s people are habitually delivered from such dangers – dangers which we never knew were close to us. We will never know (until we meet God), how many lurking dangers we avoided in this life due to our own faithfulness and God’s providential protection. What freedom from worry and anxiety! Happy is the man or woman who realizes that they cannot plan for everything (Ecclesiastes 9:11), and they cannot be an expert in every field, no matter how hard they try. By contrast, what a blessing to simply trust in God’s providential protection. This doesn’t mean don’t buy insurance or plan ahead, what is does mean is that we must admit that all our human planning is simply that – human, frail, temporary, and limited.


91:3 “And from deadly pestilence”: Times have not changed! One of the constant hot topics on various news shows is; eventually America, or the world, is going to be hit by a disease which we cannot stop and millions of people are going to die, or that some terrorist group is going to deliberately infect a major metropolitan area with anthrax or some other deadly plague. In spite of all our technology and advances in science, man is still helpless before “pestilence”. How many people are living their lives in fear and preparing for the worst. Far from making our lives miserable, God liberates us from such fears and frees us so that we can live and enjoy our existence (Exodus 15:26; Matthew 6:25). This does not mean that Christians never get sick or never develop a lethal disease, yet think of the epidemics from which God’s people have been spared! 91:4 Here we see the warmth and tenderness of God’s protection. “As for God’s care, it combines the warm protectiveness of a parent bird (Deut. 32:11; Matthew 23:37), with the hard unyielding strength of armor. Shield and buckler gave respectively the cover that was large and static, and small and mobile” (Kidner pp. 332-333). The word “bulwark” (NASV), is the translation of a Hebrew word which refers to something that is wrapped around a person for his or her protection. God is our armor and fortress.


91:5 “You will not be afraid of the terror by night”: What a wonderful passage for our children to memorize. The protection of God extends in both day and night. “Terror by night” could refer to a surprise attack. 91:6 “There is no limit to His protection because He has full authority over all things that happen on earth” (Gaebelein p. 600). Sometimes we forget the protection we have concerning our own mental and emotional health. People who trust God and dwell on goodness, truth, and wholesome thoughts (Philippians 4:8), are also protected from the mental mind games which Satan, and the trials of this world, can attempt to bring upon us. Far more important than bodily protection is the mental and emotional protection, the peace of mind, which is gained by the faithful Christian (Philippians 4:11). 91:7 “This is, of course, a statement of exact, minute, providence – not a charm against adversity... What it does assure us of is that nothing can touch God’s servant but by God’s leave” (Kidner p. 333). God has the power to protect one specific person, even though ten thousand people have died around them! God was able to bring Joseph (one person) out of servitude; God was able to protect one person, like a Daniel, when thousands of this countrymen were killed or taken as slaves. 91:8 No rebel will escape His retribution. Have we seen this with our own eyes? Even in my short lifetime, I have seen the disobedient suffer tremendously for their unfaithfulness. In this life, the righteous do witness God’s providential protection and His justice upon the unfaithful (Galatians 6:8). 
91:9-10 “The invitation is more explicitly extended to all the godly. The psalmist’s personal experience serves as an encouragement to embrace the way of wisdom by making ‘the Most High’, one’s dwelling” (Gaebelein p. 600). “This is more than merely believing in, or coming to God occasionally when danger threatens. It means resting in God continually and trusting Him at all times” (Boice p. 751).


His Angels


91:11-12 This verse reminds us that God’s servants are not merely survivors, rather they are victors who trample deadly enemies under foot. This is the verse the devil quoted as part of his temptation of Jesus Christ, recorded in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13. The devil knows Scripture, but he misquotes and perverts it for his own purposes. When the devil quoted the above verse he conveniently left out the statement, “in all your ways”, that is, ways of which God would approve – not some willful or sinful way. “That was the very essence of the temptation; he wanted Jesus to go His own way rather than trusting God and being contented with God’s way, even if it meant going to the cross. The devil wanted Jesus to test God by jumping off a pinnacle of the temple, trusting His Father to send angels to bear Him up so He would not be dashed to pieces when He fell and thus impress the people” (Boice p. 751). Jesus rightly replied that such a demonstration would not be trusting in God, rather it would be baiting God or putting God to the test (Matthew 4:7). Jesus’ response makes it clear that this psalm is not saying that God will protect us no matter what choices or decisions we make. For example, the point is not that we can drive recklessly, or do other foolish things and God will always protect us. Kidner notes, “It was characteristic of the devil to read this promise as an invitation to arrogance (Matthew 4:6). It was characteristic of God, Father and Son, that angelic help was sent when it was most needed (Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43), accepted as strength for service and sacrifice, and refused for self-advantage (Matthew 26:53ff)” (p. 333). The promise to the faithful in the New Testament is that Satan will be crushed under our feet (Romans 16:20).


God’s Pledge


91:14-16 The word for loved Me, means “cleaves to me in love”, and is used elsewhere in contexts of setting one’s heart on somebody. The statement, He has known My name, tells us that a relationship with God depends upon the correct knowledge, which in turn depends upon revelation from God (i.e., the Scriptures). The expression, He will call upon Me, reveals that the relationship God wants is that of parent and child, Master and servant, Helper and helpless. Compare this section with 1 Timothy 4:8-9. “Long life is a blessing frequently promised to the righteous in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:12; Deut. 30:20; Psalms 21:4; 23:6; Proverbs 3:2,16), but the promise is not necessarily for a prolongation of days but rather for a complete or full life. Here there is the added promise of a ‘salvation’ in heaven, yet to come. These verses also make a point that cannot over overstated – the promises are for those who trust in or love God. Therefore, they are blessings of which some believers miss out, simply because they are always fretting, and do not trust God as they should. Here the psalmist quotes God as saying that the blessings are for those who love God and acknowledge His name (v. 14), call upon him (v. 15), and seek satisfaction in what He alone can provide. Do you do that? Or are you still trying to find satisfaction in the world?” (Boice p. 752).




Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017