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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 91

 

 

Verse 1

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Kimchi says the older Rabbis ascribed this psalm to Moses. Israel's exemption from the Egyptian plagues answers to the psalm. Thus it properly follows Moses,' Psalms 90:1-17. The ulterior reference is to Christ. Satan in the temptation applies, Psalms 91:11-12, to Him, without our Lord contradicting. At His first advent, as antitype to Israel, God's Son delivered out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15; Hosea 11:1), God's special providence watched over His manhood, guarding Him from plague, accident, and Satan's plots, until His appointed time. At His second advent, Israel, one with Him, shall be delivered from the seven last Egyptian-like plagues inflicted on the hostile world-powers (Revelation 16:1-21), the kingdom of the beast. The elect of the spiritual Israel also shall be safe "in the time of trouble" (Daniel 12:1-3; Revelation 7:1) under the wing of the Almighty (Psalms 91:1). So generally, God's people at all times are under a special providence, even as to all the outward ills of life, so that nothing can really and lastingly hurt them.

Psalms 91:1-16.-The theme (Psalms 91:1-2); its development (Psalms 91:3-16). The Psalmist alternates the first and second persons, at one time expressing confidence from the soul of the believer when in danger; at another, speaking in his own person to encourage him. The thou is used when he acts as teacher; the I when as scholar. Christ, who learned obedience by suffering (Hebrews 5:8), becomes in turn the Teacher of the Church (Isaiah 50:4).

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty - (Psalms 27:5, "in the secret (the covert) of His tabernacle shall He hide me;" Psalms 31:20.) The names of God, expressing the attributes of infinite power and majesty, indicate the ground of the Psalmist's confidence of safety in Him (Psalms 91:2). "The Most High" - Hebrew, `Elyown (Hebrew #5945) [ hupsistos (Greek #5310)] - is an epithet appropriated peculiarly to God as above the highest principalities, and is joined with other names of God, as 'Eel (Hebrew #410) `Elyown (Hebrew #5945), "The Almighty" [Septuagint, pantokratoor (Greek #3841)] - Hebrew, Shaddai [ Shaday (Hebrew #7706), from shaadad (Hebrew #7703), in Arabic, to be strong; in Hebrew, to waste, destroy. The plural expresses excellence (Gesenius). Or else from sh-, = to the relative '


Verse 2

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

I will say contin all I will say - continually.

My refuge and my fortress - (Psalms 18:2.)


Verse 3

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler. "Thee" - (Christ primarily, and secondarily, Israel literal and Israel spiritual. The believer is the figurative bird: Satan is "the fowler." God is the Deliverer of His Christ; then God in Christ is the Deliverer of Christ's people (Psalms 124:7; 2 Timothy 2:26).

And from the noisome pestilence. Hengstenberg translates, 'from the pestilence of wickednesses;' i:e., from the pestilential ruin which the mass of wickednesses threatens. The connection with "the fowler," Satan, and the image carried on in Psalms 91:4-5, of God like a mother-bird (Deuteronomy 32:11) covering her young with her "feathers," and under her "wings," from the "arrow," prove that all attacks of evil, whether physical or spiritual evil, are meant by 'the destructive pestilence.' The Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, and Arabic, with slight variations, make it, 'from the persecuting word." They take the similar Hebrew for word instead of pestilence [ daabaar (Hebrew #1697), instead of deber (Hebrew #1698)]


Verse 4

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Under his wings shalt thou trust - (Psalms 36:7; Psalms 61:4; Ruth 2:12)

His truth shall be thy shield and buckler - (Psalms 5:12, note.)


Verse 5

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day. In this verse the attacks meant are those of human enemies, whether by a surprise at night or an open assault in the day. In Psalms 91:6 the attacks are those of divinely-sent sicknesses. The arrow is the enemy. Psalms 58:7; Proverbs 3:23-26 is plainly parallel, and probably is drawn from this psalm (cf. Psalms 91:11-12 here; Job 15:21; Job 21:9; Song of Solomon 3:8).


Verse 6

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness. The pestilence both to the imagination appears, and actually is, of a more aggravated virulence in the night; because the sunlight and heat has a sanitary effect. The death-stroke which fell on Egyptian first-born at night passed over the Israelites without doing any hurt, because they were under the protecting bloodmark of God's covenant.

Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon-day - a still more destructive plague than the previously mentioned "pestilence" of an ordinary kind: the same Hebrew is found in Deuteronomy 32:24 [ qeTeb (Hebrew #6986)]


Verse 7

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

A thousand shall fall at thy side - at thy left side; in contrast to ten thousand at thy right hand - (cf. Psalms 27:3; Psalms 32:6.)

But it shall not come nigh thee. While destruction prostrates thousands of the godless on every side, it never even comes near the godly.


Verse 8

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Thou shalt have no further contact with the destruction than as a spectator unhurt by it. So the Israelites "saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore" (Exodus 14:31). So hereafter, at the overthrow of the anti-Christian host, "they (the converted nations and Israel) shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their were shall not die," etc. (Isaiah 66:24).


Verse 9

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

Because thou hast made the Lord, (which is) my refuge, (even) the Most High, thy habitation - rather, as the Hebrew has the order, 'Because thou, O Lord, (art) my refuge, thou hast made the Most High thy habitation' (cf. Psalms 90:1). In the first clause the person being taught by the Psalmist responds to his exhortation, using the first person "my," as in Psalms 91:2, "I ... my." In the second clause the Psalmist resumes the character of teacher, addressing the learner with "thou ... thy." See on this change of person the introductory remarks. The close of this first part of the psalm is marked by the repetition of the same thought as at the close of the introduction (Psalms 91:2).

Christ responds to the inspired Word, which guarantees His preservation by the Father from the foe. The reason is, "because thou Lord, art my refuge;" to which the Church replies, "thou hast made the Most High thy habitation."


Verse 10

There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling - as was the case with Israel when the Egyptian first-born were smitten (Exodus 12:23-30).


Verse 11

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

For he shall give his angels charge over - literally, 'in respect to' l


Verse 12

They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone - namely, a stone of stumbling, or a danger such as meets the man of God in his course through life, without his seeking it, or running rashly and presumptuously into it. So the passage derived from this one, Proverbs 3:23, "Then (if thou keep the fear of the Lord, which is wisdom) shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble." The tempter suppressed this important qualification of the promise; Satan also omitted "in all thy ways." If the believer goes out of his way to brave a danger uncalled by duty, he cannot look for God's protection (Matthew 4:6). He is "tempting the lord" - i:e., needlessly testing God's power and faithfulness, as Israel "tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7.) "All Christ's ways," as man (who is primarily meant here), were those of implicit reverent faith, and filial dependence on God; therefore in His case "all His ways" are tantamount to all right ways; and so God's angels always kept Him "in all His ways."


Verse 13

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. The lion represents the openly violent foes of the godly: the adder and serpent the crafty liers in wait. Satan can at one time be the "roaring lion," at another the subtle dragon and suddenly stinging adder. Allusion is here made to "that great and terrible wilderness wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions" (Deuteronomy 8:15). God enabled His servants, Samson, David, and Daniel, to gain victories over literal lions (Judges 14:5; 1 Samuel 17:34-35; Daniel 6:23), a type of the spiritual victory which the saints are given over lion-like demons and human enemies (2 Timothy 2:17; Exodus 4:3-4).


Verse 14

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.

Because he hath set his love upon me - or 'cleaves to me with longing affection and delight' [ chaashaq (Hebrew #2836) - Deuteronomy 10:15; Genesis 34:8]. Here, and to the end of the psalm, God speaks.


Verse 15

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16

With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

With long life will I satisfy him - literally, 'with length of days.' The promise belongs to Christ and Christ's people in its ulterior sense. Psalms 21:4. "He (the anointed King) asked life of thee (not only for Himself, as man, but for His people also), and thou gavest it Him, even length of days forever and ever" (John 5:26; John 10:28). The earthly long life granted to many, as Abraham, Job, David, who "died in good old age, and full of years" (Genesis 25:8), is a type of the future eternal life of body and soul united (Job 42:17; 1 Chronicles 23:1; cf. Proverbs 3:2). The temporal Old Testament blessing of a full age typifies the spiritual and heavenly New Testament blessing (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16).

And show him my salvation - (Psalms 50:23)

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 91:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-91.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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