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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Psalms 91



Verses 1-16

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

It is not every man who dwells there; no, not even every Christian man. There are some who come to God’s house; but the man mentioned here dwells with the God of the house. There are some who worship in the outer court of the temple; but “he that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High” lives in the Holy of Holies; he draws near to the mercy-seat, and keeps there; he walks in the light, as God is in the light; he is not one who is sometimes on and sometimes off, a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home, he dwells in the secret place of the most High. Oh, labour to get to that blessed position! You who know the Lord, pray that you may attain to this high condition of dwelling in the inner shrine, always near to God, always overshadowed by those cherubic wings which indicate the presence of God. If this is your position, you “shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” You are not safe in the outer courts; you are not protected from all danger anywhere but within the vail. Let us come boldly there; and, when we once enter, let us dwell there.

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

This is a daring utterance, as if the psalmist would claim for himself the choicest privileges of any child of God. When you hear a glorious doctrine preached, it may be very sweet to others; but the honey lies in the particular application of it to yourself. You must, like the bee, go down into the bell of the flower yourself, and fetch out its nectar. “I will say of the Lord, He is my” — then come three my’s, as if the psalmist could grasp the Triune Jehovah, — “my refuge, my fortress, my God; in him will I trust.” What a grand word that is, “My God”! Can any language be loftier?

Can any thought be more profound? Can any comfort be surer?

Psalms 91:3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,

If you dwell near to God, you will not be deceived by Satan. In the light of the Lord you will see light; and you will discover the limed twigs and the nets and the traps that are set to catch you: “He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler.”

Psalms 91:3. And from the noisome pestilence.

The pestilence is something that you cannot see. It comes creeping in, and fills the air with death before you perceive its approach; but “He shall deliver thee from the noisome pestilence.” There is a pestilence of dangerous and accursed error abroad at this time; but if we dwell in the secret place of the most High, it cannot affect us; we shall be beyond its power. “Surely,” oh, blessed word! there is no doubt about this great truth, Surely, he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”

Psalms 91:4. He shall cover thee with his feathers,

The psalmist uses a wonderful metaphor when he ascribes “feathers” to God, and compares him to a hen, or some mother-bird, under whose wings her young find shelter. Yet the condescension of God is such that he allows us to speak of him thus: “He shall cover thee with his feathers.”

Psalms 91:4. And under his wings shalt thou trust:

God is to his people a strong defense and a tender defense. “His wings” and “his feathers” suggest both power and softness. God hides not his people in a casing of iron; their shelter is stronger than iron, yet it is soft as the downy wings of a bird for ease and comfort. As the little chicks bury their tiny heads in the feathers of the hen, and seem happy, and warm, and comfortable under their mother’s wings, so shall it be with thee if thou dwellest with thy God: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.”

Psalms 91:4. His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Twice is he armed who hath God’s truth to be his shield and buckler.

Psalms 91:5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;

Nervous as you are, and naturally timid, when you dwell near to God, your fears shall all go to sleep. That is a wonderful promise: “Thou shalt not be afraid.” If it had said, “Thou shalt have no cause for fear,” it would have been a very comforting word; but this is even more cheering, Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night.”

Psalms 91:5. Nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Both night and day thou shalt be safe. Thy God will not leave thee in the glare of the sun, nor will he forsake thee when the damps of night-dews would put thee in peril. We, dear friends, may have secret enemies, who shoot at us, but we shall not be afraid of the arrow. There may be unseen influences that would ruin us, or cause us dishonour, or distress; but when we dwell with God, we shall not be afraid of them.

Psalms 91:6-7. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

When God takes his people to dwell in nearness to himself, and they have faith in this promise, I make no doubt that, literally, in the time of actual pestilence, they will be preserved. It is not every professing Christian, nor every believer who attains this height of experience; but only such as believe the promise, and fulfill the heavenly condition of dwelling in the secret place of the most High. How could cholera or fever get into the secret place of the most High? How could any arrows, how could any pestilence, ever be able to reach that secure abode of God? If you dwell there, you are invincible, invulnerable, infinitely secure.

Psalms 91:8-10. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee,

“There shall no evil befall thee.” It may have the appearance of evil; but it shall turn out to thy good. There shall be but the appearance of evil, not the reality of it: “There shall no evil befall thee.”

Psalms 91:10-11. Neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

You remember how the devil misapplied this text to Christ. He was quite right in the application; but he was quite wrong in the. quotation, for he left out the words “in all thy ways.” God will help us in our ways if we keep in his ways. When we meet with trouble and accident, we ought to inquire whether we are in God’s way. That famous old Puritan, holy Mr. Dodd, having to cross a river, had to change from one boat into another, and being little used to the water, he fell in, and, when he was pulled out, in his simplicity and wisdom he said, “I hope that I am in my way.” That was the only question that seemed to trouble him. If I am in my way, then God will keep me. We ought to ask ourselves, “Now, am I in God’s way? Am I really moving today and acting today as divine providence leads me, and as duty calls me?” He who travels on the king’s business, by daylight, along the king’s highway, may be sure of the king’s protection. “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Come here, Gabriel, Michael, and all the rest of you,” says the great King of kings to the angels around his throne; and when they come at his call, he says, “Take care of my child. Watch over him today. He will be in peril;

suffer no evil to come near him.”

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

What royal protection we have, a guard of angels, who count it their delight and their honour to wait upon the seed-royal of the universe, for such are all the saints of God!

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

Strength and mastery may be united. The young lion and the dragon, but the child of God shall overcome them. Talk of St. George and the dragon! We ought to think more of the saint and the dragon. It is he that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High, who, by God’s help, treads upon the lion and adder, and of whom it is written, “The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.”

Psalms 91:14. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him:

Does God take notice of our poor love? Oh, yes, he values the love of his people, for he knows where it came from; it is a part of his own love; the creation of his grace!

Psalms 91:14. I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

Does God value such feeble and imperfect knowledge of his name as we possess? Yes; and he rewards that knowledge: “I will set him on high.”

Psalms 91:15. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:

Notice, that it is, “He shall,” and I will.” The mighty grace of God “shall” make us pray, and the Almighty God of grace “will” answer our prayer: “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him.” How I love these glorious shalls and wills!

Psalms 91:15. I will be with him in trouble;

“Whatever that trouble is, I will be with him in it. If he be dishonoured, if he be in poverty, if he be in sickness, if that sickness should drive his best friend away from his bed, still, ‘I will be with him in trouble.’”

Psalms 91:15. I will deliver him, and honour him.

God puts honour upon us, poor dishonourable worms that we are. One old divine calls a man “a worm six feet long”; and it is rather a flattering description of him. But God says, “I will deliver him, and honour him.”

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

He will live as long as he wants to live. Even if he should have but few years, yet he shall have a long life; for life is to be measured by the life that is in it, not by the length along which it drags. Still, God’s children do live to a far longer age than any other people in the world; they are on the whole a long-lived race. They who fear God are delivered from the vices which would deprive them of the vigor of life; and the joy and contentment they have in God help them to live longer than others. I have often noticed how long God’s people live. Some of them are speedily taken home; still this text is, as a rule, literally fulfilled, “With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” He shall see God’s salvation even here; and when he dies, and wakes up in the likeness of his Lord, he will see it to the full. May that be the portion of each of us! Amen.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 91:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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