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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Psalms 91

Verses 1-16

PSALM 91

The Man who abides in the secret place of the Most High.

The 90th Psalm presents mortal man in contrast to the everlasting God. The 91st Psalm presents Christ as the perfectly dependent Man in contrast to mortal man.

(v. 1) The 90th Psalm opens by announcing the great fact that the Lord has been the dwelling place of His people in all generations. This psalm opens by stating the blessedness of the one who dwells in the dwelling place. He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. If Psalm 90 describes the blessedness of the dwelling place, Psalm 91 presents the blessedness of the dweller.

We gladly own the fact that the one who dwells in the secret place of the Most High must abide under the shadow of the Almighty; but where can we find a man who dwells in this secret place? Adam, the first man, described in the 90th Psalm, failing to abide in the secret place, was driven forth to be a wanderer, to wither in the evening of his life and, at last, be “cut off.” In this psalm there comes before us another Man, One of whom we read, “He that dwelleth...shall abide.” Who can this be but Christ, the One who, in His pathway through this world, ever abode in the secret place of the Most High? He could speak of Himself as “the Son of Man which is in heaven.” He walked on earth but dwelt in heaven.

(v. 2) In this verse we know that Christ is the speaker, for the Spirit of God, in Heb_2:13 , uses the statement “I will put my trust in him,” as the language of Christ. It is the acceptance by Christ of the proposal of verse 1. He responds by saying, “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust,” He will make God his refuge in every storm, and his defence from every enemy. The need of a “refuge” and a “fortress” proves that Christ is speaking in the circumstances of man. There will be no storms to ruffle the calm of heaven, no enemy to oppose. It is a wilderness psalm, and, in after days is used by the Spirit of God in the wilderness circumstances of our Lord (See Luk_4:10 and Heb_1:14 ).

The names by which God is referred to in the first two verses have a special significance. The “Most High” speaks of the absolute supremacy of God ( Gen_14:18-20 ). “The Almighty” speaks of absolute power ( Gen_17:1 ). Then we learn from the lips of Christ that the One who is supreme in position and absolute in power is the Jehovah of Israel - the Eternal God, the I AM. How safe then - how sure of blessing must be the one who dwells in His secret place.

(vv. 3-8) In these verses the Spirit of God addresses Christ, unfolding the blessings that flow to the one who dwells in the secret place of the Most High. Such will know the power of God delivering from the snares of the enemy, and from the destructive pestilence of evil. Moreover he will enjoy the watchful care of love, for “He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge.” In result the one who dwells in the secret place will not be afraid of secret attack - “the terror by night,” nor of direct and open opposition - the “arrow by day.” A thousand shall fall at his side, but destruction shall not come nigh the one who confides in Jehovah. He shall have no part in the judgment of the wicked save to behold it with his eyes.

(vv. 9-13) The Spirit of God has spoken: now one of the godly of Israel, with whom Christ has identified Himself, is led by the Spirit to address Christ. This godly soul can speak of Jehovah as his refuge, and thus with confidence can say to Christ, “Because Thou hast made the Lord...even the most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee.” The evils and plagues that are common to fallen man shall not come nigh to His “tent” - for thus it should read, clearly showing that it is His pilgrim journey on earth that is in view. Moreover, the resources of heaven are available for Him throughout His earthly pathway. The angels are charged to keep Him in all His ways. Furthermore, He will triumph over all the power of the devil, whether coming against Him as the lion, the adder, or the dragon. As the lion, the devil wields a destructive power over man; as the adder, he beguiles men ( 2Co_11:3 ); as the dragon he persecutes ( Rev. 12 ).

Thus in the pathway of this perfectly dependent Man, earth's evils cannot come nigh Him, heaven's hosts wait upon Him, and hell's forces are subdued beneath Him.

(vv. 14-16) The Spirit by whom He was led has spoken; the voice of the remnant, with whom He associated, has been heard; now we are privileged to hear God Himself, as He testifies to the Man in whom is His delight. God has at last found in Christ a Man in wilderness circumstances of whom He can say, “He hath set his love upon me,” “He hath known my name;” and “He shall call upon me.” Alas! we have set our affections upon anyone but God; we have been indifferent to all the blessedness of God as set forth in His Name; we have done our own wills rather than walk in dependence upon Him. Here at last is a perfect Man who, while walking on earth, has set His love wholly upon Jehovah, who knows and delights in the blessedness of Jehovah's Name, and ever expressed His absolute dependence upon Jehovah by calling upon His Name. To the personal perfection of this perfect Man, God will give a perfect answer. God can say of Christ

I will deliver Him,

I will set Him on high,

I will answer Him,

I will be with Him,

I will honour Him,

I will satisfy Him with length of days, and

I will show Him My salvation.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 91". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/psalms-91.html. 1832.