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Monday, July 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 91

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-16

Psalms 91:1-16.

V. 1, 2. It is probable that David wrote this psalm, though his name is not prefixed to it. ’ The ’ author of this Psalm is not known, but the occasion ’ seems to have been some great pestilence, in which the ’ Psalmist commends a humble confidence in God and an ’ ardent love to him, as the best security, both in that and ’in all other dangers.. ..The Talmudists call it, A Song ’ of evil spirits.’ Bp. Patrick. " The secret place of the " most High," may be an allusion to the ark of the covenant, fixed in the most holy place, as in a secret pavilion ; and may denote the security and tranquility arising from confidence in God, and communion with him, at his mercy-seat. (Notes, Psalms 27:4-6. Psalms 31:19-20.) By faith and prayer, believers put themselves under the protection of God, relying on his power, wisdom, truth, and love ; and thus they dwell in an invisible fortress, and are secured by an almighty Friend, in a w:iy kept secret from the unbelieving world around them. (Note, Colossians 3:1-4.) While the Psalmist recommended this Refuge and Rest to others, he avows his purpose to avail himself of it, and to place his entire confidence in the Lord. (Notes, 14- 16. Psalms 84:11-12. Psalms 90:1-2. Genesis 15:1; Genesis 17:1-3; 2 Samuel 22:2-3. Proverbs 18:10-11.) The two verses, however, may be thus rendered, " He that dwelleth in the secret place of " the most High, shall lodge under the shadow of the ’ Almighty ; saying of the LORD, My Refuge and my " Fortress." In every dark season of affliction and danger, he shall have security and comfort, while with his heart he relies on the Almighty, and with his lips avows that his expectation is from him alone. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 3- 8. Under a variety of expressions, in the most beautiful style of eastern poetry, the Psalmist represents the manifold dangers to which believers are exposed, from the wickedness of men, and from pestilences and diseases in all their multiplied forms; and the protection which they find under the mercy, faithfulness, and power of the Almighty.

(Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 36:5-9. Ruth 2:11-12. Job 5:18-27. Matthew 23:37-39.) Yet these are only a shadow of the perils by which their souls are threatened, from the subtlety and power of Satan, the plausible delusions of false teachers, the terrors of persecutors, the allurements of flattery and prosperity, the infectious wickedness of the world, and the depravity and deceitfulness of their own hearts. Yet from all these formidable perils and enemies, they " are kept by the power of God through " faith unto salvation." (Note, 1 Peter 1:3-5.) The Septuagint render the clause, " the destruction that wasteth at " noon-day," (6) ’ the noon-day demon.’ ’ Avarice and ambition are abroad in the day ; while concupiscence like a pestilence walketh in darkness. In ad’ versity the soul is disturbed by terrors ; in prosperity, ’ still more endangered by pleasures. But Jesus Christ has overcome the world, to prevent us from being overcome by it." Bp. Home. (Note, John 16:31-33.) Yet, as thousands and ten thousands fall, during a fatal pestilence, while others witnessing the desolations are preserved ; so immense multitudes are swept into destruction by delusions and temptations, while a few escape to mourn over them. ’ The godly shall have some experience of God’s ’ judgments against the wicked even in this life ; but fully ’ they shall see it at that day when all things shall be re’ vealed.’

(Notes, Psalms 92:11. Matthew 25:31-46. Romans 2:4-6. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. Revelation 20:11-15.)

V. 9, 10. These verses are thus rendered in the old version. " For thou hast said, the LORD is mine Hope, thou " hast set the most High for thy Refuge. There shall " none evil come unto thee, &c." ’ Because this is thy avowed and real confidence, therefore thou art and shalt be safe and happy, and thy family shall for thy sake share the blessing.’ (Notes, Psalms 121:5-8. Psalms 125:1.)

V. 11, 12. The Lord is pleased to employ the ministration of his holy angels, for the protection of his people from outward harm, " in all their ways " while in the path of duty: but if they desert their post and path, they are not warranted to depend on that protection : and not angels, but the Holy Spirit must inwardly guide them in his ways, or bring them back when they wander. (Notes, Genesis 24:2-9. Hebrews 1:13-14.) The mutilated and sophistical quotation which Satan made of this text, in tempting our Saviour, seems to imply, that the Messiah was supposed to be principally, though not exclusively meant. This might be, and probably was the case ; but the subtle enemy that misquoted, could also misapply the sacred scripture : and his testimony contains no proof. (Note, Matthew 4:5-7.)

V. 13. By these figurative expressions taken from the fiercest of beasts, and most poisonous of serpents, Satan and his progeny of wicked men are figuratively described, who persecute the people of God, or attempt to terrify or seduce them from their duty ; but over whom they shall at length triumph as their Captain has already triumphed.

(Marg. Ref. Notes, Genesis 3:14-15. Mark 16:17-18. Luke 10:17-20. Romans 8:32-39; Romans 16:17-20. Revelation 12:7-12; Revelation 20:13.)

V. 14- 16. ’ To assure the faithful of God’s protection, he bringeth in God himself to confirm the same.’ So that JEHOVAH himself is here introduced as the Speaker ; and the persons intended are characterized. They have known the name of the Lord, and set their love on him, delighting themselves in him, cleaving to him in reverent and holy love, expecting all their happiness from

him, and seeking help from him, by the persevering prayer of faith, and fervently thirsting for him, and for his favour, and the light of his countenance. Persons of this character he will deliver, honour, exalt, and satisfy with long life ; if not here, yet in heaven, where he will shew them his complete salvation.

(Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 9:7 Psalms 21:1-7 - Psalms 34:15-20. 1 Chronicles 28:9. Luke 2:25-32. John 17:13. Romans 8:28-31. 2 Timothy 1:11-12.) Even the most encouraging promises of Scripture imply, that " in this world " the best Christians " must have " tribulation ; " by engaging that the Lord will afford them his gracious presence under all their troubles and trials.

The following view of this beautiful Psalm, with an in terchange of speakers, which has been transmitted to me, seems worthy of consideration. ’ Imagine the Psalmist to have been addressing himself to some person hope fully disposed towards religion, in sentiments and language of which the first verse affords a specimen : this ’ person being much affected and confirmed in his religious ’ purpose by the discourse, comes to the resolution of the ’ second verse, " I will say, &c." El .courage and excited by this success, the Psalmist resumes the conversation, and in yet more animated strains sets forth the security and blessedness of the man " whose hope the ’ " LORD is : " " Surely," (if you do so), " he will deliver, &c." The Almighty himself at the fourteenth ’ verse, assumes the part of the Speaker, and confirms ’ all that his servant had urged, and thus the Psalm concludes.’


The divine protection and consolation, which believers enjoy, are deemed visionary by ungodly men : but they really do abide and repose under " the shadow of the Almighty," which the scorching sun of temptation and tribulation cannot penetrate, and in a fortress which no power of the enemy can force. (Notes, Is. Psalms 32:1-2. Psalms 33:15-16. Matthew 23:37-39.) Let then sinners

come to him upon his mercy-seat, through the Redeemer’s name : and let those who have experienced his salvation, boldly avow their confidence in him, and encourage others also to trust in him. Every man must perceive, that in this world we are exposed to innumerable evils and perils, from which no prudence, courage, or strength of our own can secure us : and it must be allowed desirable in the highest degree, to have an almighty, omnipresent, and omniscient Protector, who is likewise infinite in goodness, mercy, and truth : One, that can preserve our lives from famine, pestilence, and sudden death ; from the desolations of war, the open assaults of robbers and murderers; from the dark designs of false accusers and perjurers ; and from innumerable evils to which we are exposed by day and by night. But those, who violate the commands and neglect the salvation of the Lord, cannot possibly have any well grounded confidence in his protection : and should he bear with their provocations, and continue their lives for many years ; yet except they repent they must at length perish in their sins. He therefore, who is aware of his real situation, discovers far more formidable evils to which he is exposed, than those which have been above mentioned. He wants a refuge from the deserved wrath of God, and from the miseries of the eternal world. He needs an effectual and permanent deliverance from Satan, who takes men captive at his will, as the fowler ensnares the unsuspecting bird ; (Note, 2 Timothy 2:23-26:) who appears as a roaring lion when he excites persecution against the church, or as a subtle serpent and a destructive dragon, when he opposes the faith with seducing lies, vain reasonings, fascinating flatteries, or proffered secular advantages ; or when he transforms himself into an angel of light to deceive men with false religion. (Note, 2 Corinthians 11:1-6; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. Revelation 12:7-12.) He wants also protection against the pestilence of a wicked world ; that he may not be infected with fashionable or epidemical vices, which form " a destruction that wasteth at the noon day ; " or by any other more silent and unsuspected contagion of example, influence, or false principles, which constitute " a pestilence that walketh in darkness : " nay, he is sensible, that the remainder of corrupt nature often renders solitude as dangerous, as the world itself can be. He also longs to be delivered from the terror of these evils, and to be assured that he shall not at last perish with the multitudes, who are on every side thronging the road to destruction. This security and assurance the Christian seeks as his principal object : being persuaded, that if his eternal interests be safe, the Lord will manage all his inferior and temporal concerns wisely and well ; and preserve his life on earth as long as is good for him, to whatever perils it may seem exposed. For his encouragement in this grand concern, he by faith daily looks unto Jesus : he contemplates the beloved Son of God, boldly and patiently marching forward on his perilous and rugged path ; entirely preserved from the combined hosts of foes which beset his road, and made completely victorious over them ; in no degree entangled by any of Satan’s snares, injured by any of his fiery darts, or terrified by his furious assaults ; and not in the least infected by the pestilence of sin, the contagious love of the world, or the fear of man. He considers the Redeemer upheld by the arm of the Lord, ministered unto by angels, trampling upon the head of Satan, overcoming the world, and triumphing over the king of terrors. He hears the Father say of him, " Because he " hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him ; " I will set him on high, because he hath known my name : " and while he recollects that the Redeemer’s conflicts, sufferings, and exaltation were all intended for the benefit of his true disciples ; he finds himself animated with a holy courage, to deny himself and take up his cross, and follow him. Relying on the truth and mercy of God, through the Saviour’s great atonement, he has come to " put his trust under the shadow of his wings ; " and to shelter his soul under his word, as his " shield and " buckler." He now knows the name of the Lord, and has seen some beams of his glory : he nas set his affections on things above, and given his heart unto the Lord, and desires to love him more and more : he nowlives by faith, and daily calls upon the Lord for all lie wants. Dangers, temptations, fears, and troubles, make him more to prize his Refuge and Rest. In many a sharp conflict he comes off victorious ; many a danger lie narrowly escapes ; thousands go on in sin, or fall away from their professed devotedness to God ; yet, by a sort of miracle, he finds himself preserved : no real evil comes upon him, nor is any plague allowed to come nigh his dwelling-place. Often he experiences extraordinary protection in Providence : and he has the comfort to know, that all the angels in heaven are " ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation." His chief fear is, lest he should be drawn aside from the path of duty : but he prays to be led and upheld in it, and to be restored with rebukes and corrections if he wander. At length the conflict ends, and he is crowned conqueror, and has done for ever with trouble, sin, and temptation : he " is set on high," and honoured in the presence of the angels of God ; and " with his eyes shall he behold, and " see the reward of the wicked." O LORD, visit our souls with this salvation, and this " length of days even for " ever and ever." Amen.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 91". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-91.html. 1804.
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