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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Psalms 91

 

 

Verse 1

Psalms 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Ver. 1. He that dwelleth in the secret place, &c.] The safety of a saint is in this whole psalm ( Quo nihil neque solidius neque splendidius dici potest) set forth to the life, Verbis vivis, animatis sententiis et spiritus fervore flagrantissimo.

Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty] Under the pleasant and assured defence of God; he shall lodge under the shadow of Shaddai, and there sing away care and fear.


Verse 2

Psalms 91:2 I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Ver. 2. I will say of the Lord] I dare say it is so as I have said, said the psalmist (whom the Jews make to be Moses), and I will presently make proof of it in myself; Non verbis solum praedicans, sed exemplis. Some conceive that the believer having heard the former proposition, Psalms 91:1, is here brought in professing his faith; and saying to the psalmist, Behold, I dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and shall I abide under the shadow of the Almighty? The answer follows.


Verse 3

Psalms 91:3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, [and] from the noisome pestilence.

Ver. 3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler] i.e. Of the devil and his emissaries, 2 Timothy 2:26, who, by force and fraud, seek to ensnare the saints. Gratiae privativae multo plures sunt quam positivae, saith Gerson. God daily delivereth his from innumerable deaths and dangers. By fowler here some understand the punishing angel, 2 Samuel 24:15-17, and conceive that this psalm was penned upon occasion of that great plague that followed upon David’s numbering the people; for then, if ever, both prince and people stood in need of special comfort, and here they have it. Divine consolations are therefore sweet, because seasonable and suitable.

And from the noisome pestilence] That uncomfortable and contagious disease. The Vulgate rendereth it, and from rough words. In Hebrew Dabhar signifieth a word, Debher, a pest; an evil tongue hath the pestilence in it, Ab excidio exitiorum.


Verse 4

Psalms 91:4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth [shall be thy] shield and buckler.

Ver. 4. He shall cover thee with his feathers] As the hen doth her chickens; Fides est quae te pullastrum, Christum gallinam facit, ut sub pennis eius speres; nam salus in pennis eius, saith Luther; it is faith which maketh thee the little chicken, and Christ the hen; that thou mayest hide, and hope, and hover, and cover under his wings; for there is health in his wings.

And under his wings shalt thou trust] For without faith what use is there to us of the promises. Non de se debet sperare Christianus; si vult esse firmus vapore materno nutriatur, ut pullus gallinaceus, saith Austin; Let no man hope for safety or strength but under Christ’s wings graciously stretched out over him.


Verse 5

Psalms 91:5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; [nor] for the arrow [that] flieth by day;

Ver. 5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night] Thou shalt be freed, if not from the common destruction, yet from the common distraction.

Impavidum ferient ruinae.

Nor for the arrow that flieth by day] Sudden ill occurrences quae nec praevident nec praecavent fideles, the arrows of death shall come whisking by thine ears, and not hit. (Hor. lib 2, Od. 13.)

Quid quisque vitet nunquam homini saris

Cautum est in horas - Improvisa lethi

Vis rapuit, rapietque gentes.

True faith is a target, and sayeth a man if not from the smart, yet from the hurt of evil accidents.


Verse 6

Psalms 91:6 [Nor] for the pestilence [that] walketh in darkness; [nor] for the destruction [that] wasteth at noonday.

Ver. 6. Nor for the pestilence] Called before terror, and arrow, as some conceive, Hippocrates calleth it το θειον, the divine disease, because sent more immediately from God, as an evil messenger. Not but that a good man may die of the plague, as did Oecolampadius, and many others; Hezekiah is thought to have had it, so had reverend Beza (his family was four different times visited herewith), who was much comforted under that and other heavy afflictions by this sweet psalm, which, therefore, he hugged and held most dear all the days of his life, as himself witnesseth in his argument and use of this psalm.

Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday] For the noonday devil (so the Vulgate rendereth it after the Septuagint), as, for pestilence walking in darkness, one old English manuscript hath goblin. The Chaldee here expounds it, the company of devils. As in the next verse, "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand," &c. R Solomon expoundeth, A thousand devils shall pitch their tents on thy right hand and on thy left; but shall not hurt thee, because the good angels shall guard thee against them. But it is better to understand all (as before) of the pestilence, though I doubt not but the devil, that old man slayer, hath a hand in this and other common calamities, yet not without the Lord’s overruling power limiting him.


Verse 7

Psalms 91:7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; [but] it shall not come nigh thee.

Ver. 7. A thousand shall fall, &c.] This deadly disease lays heaps upon heaps (as we have had lamentable experience), and scarce leaveth living enough to bury the dead, as in the days of Decius the emperor.

But it shall not come nigh thee] Thou shalt be antidoted and privileged; sc. if God see it good for thee, {see Psalms 91:6} and thou be careful to serve his providence. The Turks shun not the company of those that have the plague; but pointing upon their foreheads, say, It was written there at their birth when they shall die. Thus to do is not to trust God, but to tempt him.


Verse 8

Psalms 91:8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Ver. 8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold] And say, Oh the severity of divine justice! Oh the venomous and mischievous nature and effects of men’s sin! Behold the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell severity, but toward me goodness, if I continue in his goodness; otherwise I shall also be cut off, Romans 11:22.

And see the reward of the wicked] Thyself being, as it were, shot free; thy sincerity prevailing for thy safety.


Verse 9

Psalms 91:9 Because thou hast made the LORD, [which is] my refuge, [even] the most High, thy habitation;

Ver. 9. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, &c.] Because thou hast done as I do, thou shalt speed as I have sped; for God is rich in mercy to all his.

Even the Most High thy habitation] See Psalms 90:1.


Verse 10

Psalms 91:10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

Ver. 10. There shall no evil befall the] No devoratory evil, as Tertullian expresseth it; nothing that tendeth ad exitium, but only ad exercitium, and such as shall end in thy good.

Neither shall any plague] What a wonderful separation made the Lord between the houses of the Israelites and the Egyptians, Exodus 11:7. See Job 5:1-27, and take these places, as Psalms 91:6. For it may befall a saint to share in a common calamity; as the good corn and weeds are cut down together, but for a different end and purpose,

- Non te tua plurima, Pantheu,

Labentem texit pietas -


Verse 11

Psalms 91:11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

Ver. 11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee] This guard of angels, many angels, yea, all, if need be, to secure every poor believer, how meanly soever he thinks of himself, or is esteemed by others, is no small privilege. See Matthew 4:6. {See Trapp on "Matthew 4:6"}

To keep thee in all thy ways] In all thy lawful and Christian undertakings; for no further doth God or his holy angels take charge of thee. If we keep not within God’s precincts, we cannot look for his protection. Wefts and strays fall to the Lord of the soil. The State secureth none that are abroad at undue hours, that travel not between sun and sun. Divines observe, that the devil, citing this text, Matthew 4:6, left out these words on purpose, as not for his purpose; yet doth not our Saviour so much as upbraid him with this mutilation, nor yet tell him of that which followeth, Psalms 91:13, "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder," &c., to teach us, in dealing with an adversary, not to lie at the catch, but answer to the thing, &c.


Verse 12

Psalms 91:12 They shall bear thee up in [their] hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Ver. 12. They shall bear thee up in their hands] {See Trapp on "Matthew 4:6"} Be sensible of the many good offices done us by the blessed angels, not once looking for our thanks.


Verse 13

Psalms 91:13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Ver. 13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion, &c.] No creature shall harm thee, so as to hinder thine eternal happiness. See Isaiah 11:6-8, Hosea 2:18, Job 5:23, Mark 16:18. This text was shamefully abused by Pope Alexander, A.D. 1159, when at Venice he trod upon the neck of the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa, and said, as here, super leonem et aspidem ambulabis, &c.


Verse 14

Psalms 91:14 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.

Ver. 14. Because he hath set his love upon me, &c.] Because he cleaveth unto me, and acquiesceth in me. Ardet me, amplexus est me. Thus God is brought in speaking toward the close of all, for greater assurance. Aben Ezra saith that it is the speech of God to his angels.

I will set him on high, because he hath known my name] And hence it is that his heart is so set upon me. They that know God’s name will surely trust in him, Psalms 9:10. "Thy name is as an ointment poured out, therefore do the virgins love thee," Song of Solomon 1:3. But unkent unkist, as the northern proverb hath it; men, therefore, care not for God because they know not his excellencies.


Verse 15

Psalms 91:15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I [will be] with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

Ver. 15. He shall call upon me] This is an indispensable duty, and will be cheerfully performed by those who know and love the Lord.

I will deliver him, &c.] As he did David, Joseph, Daniel, and others.


Verse 16

Psalms 91:16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Ver. 16. With long life, &c.] He shall have enough of this life present even to a satiety, and heaven in the end. The Hebrews call this psalm Canticum de accidentibus. When Beza came first to the Reformed Church he found them singing this psalm, and was greatly encouraged.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 91:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-91.html. 1865-1868.

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Sunday, January 26th, 2020
the Third Sunday after Epiphany
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