Many people use Psalm 91 almost as a magical saying. Especially in this Age of COVID, the psalm has taken on meaning as an incantation in people’s thinking that it was never intended to do. Can someone simply repeat the words and obtain special/supernatural protection? Of course not! Yet, that is what some believe and continue doing in ignorance. We’ll look at several verses and outline why this isn’t so..
Consider Psalm 91:1:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
There is actually a condition contained within this verse. The condition is: If someone dwells with God, then he will abide under His protection. Right off the bat the implication is that a person must be one who seeks and lives for God. Look at the next verse, Psalm 91:2:
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
The one speaking declares God is everything to him. He trusts Him. Is that unusual? Yes actually, it is. For how many of us is the Lord our first response? When trouble arises, what do we do? I suspect that the majority of people – myself included – try to deal with the problem ourselves. It’s the natural human response. We attempt to fix things in the flesh. Sometimes that works; in other instances it doesn’t. When the issue doesn’t go away, and in fact gets worse, only then do we turn to God. Maybe we do so by repeating a prayer like Psalm 91.
Of course, this psalm has become popular these days because it appears to address the issues we face regularly in these chaotic times. Verses 3 and 6 speak of pestilence and plague. There are plenty of those that are swirling around! Daily we’re inundated with reports of COVID and its alarming variants (if we believe the hype). Perhaps there are other, more dangerous diseases lurking. We see in various places, far and near, locust plagues that are devastating crops and producing famines. Some locales are overrun with mice, or snakes, or mosquitoes, or mites. There’s seemingly no end to the plethora of afflictions coming at us from the natural world or the evil devices of men. Is it any wonder that people want a charm to make all these issues go away?
But chanting invocations and appealing to God as though He is One to be manipulated is a false hope. It is only through our relationship with Jesus Christ can we come to Him and appeal for help. Look at Psalm 91:9-10:
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
Because you are close to the Lord, He will protect you. Again, this is an implied if-then relationship. Through that personal interaction with someone who actively seeks the Lord, what will He do for that person? Psalm 91:11 tells us:
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
Wow! Is this powerful? For the one who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, He will surround him with angels to ward off evil and keep until that Day.
In repetition, consider Psalm 91:14 in this respect:
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.”
This is an absolute promise, but it’s only for someone who knows God’s Name. In other words, demons know about God and tremble; ultimately so does the bulk of humanity, if not later rather than sooner. One who knows God’s Name is a person who has a personal relationship with Jesus. Because of that, he and God are not only on speaking terms, they are intimate.
Do you want this psalm to apply to you? Do you want its benefits? What the psalm promises is available to all. The secret is to fully and completely trust in the Lord.