End times prophecy is full of warnings of coming great calamities. The book of Revelation warns of great upheaval. It tells of great earthquakes, terrible plagues, and unthinkable death tolls. Yet it also clearly states that there will be survivors. Jesus Christ Himself also warned of wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. But He then said that these were only the BEGINNING of sorrows! I believe that we have already entered the time of sorrows. These sorrows will only grow until the glorious second coming of Jesus Christ. But how are we as believers supposed to approach these calamities? How will we make it through them? How do we survive?
In Psalm 91, the Lord promises protection to them that live in His “secret place.” To those who put their trust in Him and make Him their refuge, He promises to protect them from the kinds of disasters described in Revelation. What then, is this secret place, and how do we abide therein? Here, we will study Psalm 91 in verse by verse detail, to help us understand the protection found in God’s secret place.
1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
The secret place is the very shadow of the Almighty. Those who live in the secret place live under God’s very shadow. This means that they are very close to God. Them who abide in God’s secret place literally live with God, in the same house, under the same roof. This person lives in the very presence of God, in His Holy Place, under His shadow. (You cannot get much closer than this.) They live with the Lord, yet are still here on earth. (In Acts, we hear of people being healed under the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15). If people were healed under Peter’s shadow, then what can we expect under the shadow of the Lord?) To be this close to God, you must be far from this world and the sin thereof. So, someone who abides in the secret place lives in the house of the Lord.
2. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Those who live in God’s secret place will declare Him to be their refuge and fortress. Are we willing to state this? Are we willing to make this declaration? This means not to put your confidence in human strength, military might, high walls, fortifications, stored food, and other man-made preparations. Put your trust in the Lord, and make Him your refuge. For those who dwell in the secret place, they will declare that He is their refuge (place that they run to for safety), and their fortress (place that protects them from an invading enemy). They will be able to say that their trust is in Him. They will confess this audibly. To live in the secret place means to make the Lord our refuge and to put our trust in Him.
3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
Those in the secret place will be delivered from the snare of the fowler, and the noisome or grievous pestilence. The English word fowler implies someone who catches birds (the Hebrew word is also translated “fowler” in Prov 6:5). This individual is attempting to trap something, however, not birds, but believers!
7. The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.
8. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God.
9. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.
From this passage, we see that the “snare of a fowler” refers to a false prophet, a corrupt prophet, who attempts to lead God’s people astray. The Bible warns of a great falling away, a time when false preachers and teachers abound. Today, there are so many of them, and they are so crafty in their attempt to snare believers. Because of this, we must be close to the Lord, in the secret place, in His Word, to be safe from them.
A pestilence is a severe plague with high mortality. A noisome or grievous pestilence is far worse. The English word “noisome” can be defined as “very unpleasant” or “disgusting.” However, the Hebrew word translated as “noisome” here is more revealing. It can be translated as “grievous,” “calamity,” “wickedness,” “perverse things,” “mischievous,” “iniquity” and “naughty.” This pestilence is therefore described as wicked, perverse, and naughty. Could it possibly be a man-made, genetically engineered virus? At the minimum, it is a very severe naturally occurring plague. Those hidden in the Lord, in His secret place, will be delivered.
4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Divine shelter is found “under His wings.” His truth (The truth of His existence, His Word) is our shield. This is a picture of the Lord as our Refuge. In times of trouble, He will cover us with His protection. God’s feathers and wings are not literal obviously, but show that He will protect us like a hen protecting her chicks, hiding them under her wings. If we have this protection, why then do we need a shield? It’s even listed in the armor of God. Because we need to get out and fight the good fight, even when we are sheltering in the Lord.
5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
When you are under God’s protection, you have no reason to fear. We are not to be afraid of the terror by night. We don’t fear things that cause us terror in the night, such as storms, nightmares, or intruders. (The terror by night could anything that rudely awaken us out of sleep in the middle of the night.) The arrow that flieth by day can be seen as any projectile weapon, or even as any weapon in general. Here we see God’s protection from war and violence. Pestilence, as mentioned before, is a plague or pandemic. The destruction could be earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, landslides, etc. This indicates both natural and man-made disasters, and at any time of day. While we may still witness these calamities, those of us hidden in the Lord will not be afraid of any of these, as the Lord is our shelter and protection.
7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Here, we see Divine protection from a mass casualty event. Thousands will be dying, but the protected will not be touched. The disaster is close, but those hidden in the Lord are not affected. This could be a horrific plague or possibly a weapon of mass destruction. Nearly everyone is dropping dead, and death tolls are in the 10,000s in the vicinity alone. It is humanly impossible to survive. “[A]t thy side…at thy right hand..but it shall not come nigh thee.” This appears to be a contradiction as it sounds like it is indeed very close. It will appear to be close, but it will not touch you if you are abiding in the secret place of the Almighty. God will not allow it to. You will be surrounded by it on every side, but not be affected by it. It will not touch you because God stands between it and you, if you are dwelling in the secret place.
8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Moving beyond man-made and natural disaster, we see Divine protection from Divine judgment on the ungodly. Those hidden in the Lord are shielded from the judgment He pours out on others. Those born again in Christ have been delivered from the wrath to come. The righteous will see the wicked receive the reward of their sin. No Divine judgment will fall on the believer who is living righteously and obediently to the Lord and His Word.
9. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
The condition for the Divine protection described here in Psalm 91 is restated for emphasis: the protection is dependent on us making the Lord our habitation, our dwelling place.
10. There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
No evil shall happen to you when you are in the secret place.
There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief. Proverbs 12:21
Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. Ecclesiastes 8:5
What does this really mean? There are plenty of examples where is appears not to be true, such as persecution of believers. Because the Lord is our habitation, dwelling, abode, He will protect us from evil, plague, calamity, etc. David had to run for his life from Saul, but he was protected. So this protection may not be what we expect. It may not be comfortable. It may not be easy. It doesn’t eliminate the trials of life, but rather acts as a shield against them, and help to get through them. God may not eliminate our burdens, but He will carry them for us.
28. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7.
When the Lord is your habitation, no plague can come near your habitation. Because God is your habitation. When the Lord is your abode, no plague can enter.
11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Angels have been given charge (or command) over us. They have been commanded to keep, protect, and preserve us as we go about the ways of life. This is an example of this Divine protection. Here, we see angels protecting us from injury. They will bear us up, or literally carry us if needed. (What is meant by “the ways of life” is this: that we are not to test out this protection. Satan attempted to get Christ to test it, however, by misquoting this verse, leaving out “in all thy ways,” and adding “at any time;” making the implication that God would protect Him even if He did something knowingly foolish. Matt 4:5-7.) While this mentions angelic protection from injury, it could also be applied to other hazards, such as plagues, natural disasters and war. Guardian angels are real.
13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
The adder (snake) and “dragon” are similar, if not the same. Both of these are representations of Satan. The lion is a dangerous, carnivorous beast. Satan is likened to a lion: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8. A lion could also be any opponent of the Gospel. “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” 2 Tim 4:17. Serpents and dragons are well-known representations of Satan, from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus Christ bruised the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15), and gives His disciples the power to tread upon him. (Lk 10:19). This verse therefore shows that a person in God’s hiding place will have power over the devil. (This may be one reason why Satan didn’t quote this verse when he misquoted vs 11-12 to Jesus.) With God’s protection, we will walk in the midst of dangerous beasts without hurt. “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Mark 16:18.
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.
Psalm 91 contains a series of conditional promises. Here we have a couple more conditional promises. Those who set their love upon the Lord are promised deliverance, and those who know His name are promised exaltation. Both of these are part of making the Lord our habitation. Setting your love on God means longing for Him (Gen 34:81), delighting in Him (Deut 10:5), having a desire for Him (Deut 21:11; 1 Kings 9:19), and being joined or connected to Him, What does it mean to know God’s name? The Hebrew words here for “know” and “name” mean literally “know” and “name,” respectively. But this clearly means something more than having a head knowledge of the Lord’s name. The Bible says that those who know the Lord’s name put their trust in Him. “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” Psalms 9:10. Those who know God’s name have a reverent fear of Him.
Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.
2 Chronicles 6:33
We can observe, reflect on, and experience the Lord. But how to do this with His very name? One possibility is observing, reflecting upon, or experiencing God’s many names and their meaning. For example, His name Jehovah-jireh indicates that He is our provider. (But do we recognize Him as the source of all good things?) We should learn God’s names and what they mean, and apply this knowledge to our lives. Knowing His name is part of living in the secret place
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.
When you are abiding in the Lord, and call out to Him in trouble, He will answer you, He will come be with you, and He will deliver you and honor you. When God says that He will be with us, it doesn’t mean that He is coming over for a visit. Rather, that He will rush to our aid (see “succor,” Heb 2:18). The trials and troubles mentioned here in Psalm 91 are potentially life threatening. The deliverance spoken of here and throughout the Psalms may be a literal rescue. Or, it could be Divine sheltering and protection from the situation (vs 7-8,12). When God is with us in trouble, that does not always mean that the trouble is removed from us, or that we’re removed from it. (Even though this could happen.) Rather, it means that He will be with us to help us through it, and to shield us from it.
16. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
The dweller in the secret place is also satisfied with a long life. Not only do they have a long live, they have a satisfying life. They will have a full, complete life. This may mean that they have pleasant life with good health, and don’t have a long painful death. More likely however, this means that they will have fulfilled their life’s work and calling. They will have completed what God had put them on earth to do. They may have a satisfying ministry, seeing many turned to the Lord. In addition, God shows them His salvation. They see it for themselves. They see that the destruction does not affect them (vs 7,8). God will show His salvation to them that live uprightly. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” Psalms 50:23. Remember the salvation shown at the Red Sea crossing: “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” Exodus 14:13. They are also shown God’s salvation by their long life, because the danger did not take their lives.
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In Psalm 91, those who take refuge in God’s “secret place” are promised protection and deliverance from many things. These include plagues, war, violence, natural disasters, accidents and false prophets. Yet, it is self-evident that this deliverance may not be what we would expect or want. Christians today still face persecution and even martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ. However, even Paul, who faced much persecution himself, credited the Lord for delivering him from all persecutions. “Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” 2 Timothy 3:11. One question yet remains: if all these protections are conditional on us being in the Lord’s secret place, then how do we enter the secret place? How do we live in the secret place? How do we know that we are abiding in the Lord? How can we enter the Holy of Holies?
First, make the Lord your refuge. “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” Psalm 91:2. Come to Him in times of trouble. Don’t fear, worry, or swear when you need help. Don’t delay to ask Him for help. Make the Lord your first choice for help, and not your last resort. Seek help from Him first. Don’t put your confidence in man and human achievement, defense, etc. Put your trust in the Lord. Second, abide in the Word of the Lord. God’s Word, God’s truth, is our shield. “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7. Third, submit yourself in humble obedience to the Lord. If you keep the His commandments, He will abide with you. “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23. Fourth, purify yourself from sin. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. Hate your sin, and flee from it.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. James 4:8-9.
And when you do sin, get it right quick. Weep and morn over your sin. It is no laughing matter; it is serious. Sin draws us away from the Lord, out of His protection. Always seek to be pure and holy. Always seek to be in right standing with God.
Abiding in the Lord is not difficult; uou do not need a theological degree. It can be summed up as simply being as close to the Lord as you can, and removing all obstacles that come between you and Him.
A Psalm of David.
1. Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
2. He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
3. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
4. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
5. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
3. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4. He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.