“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).
Everyone desires safety. Fearful things surround us all the time, and we would like nothing more than to find a place in which to hide and be safe from the dangers. The author of Psalm 91 must have experienced similar feelings. But his psalm is not one of fear. Instead, he rejoices, because he has already found his safe place. In the middle of danger, he has learned to take refuge in his God.
The opening verse sets the stage for just how awesome our God is. When we dwell in His shelter, the psalmist states, we are abiding in the Almighty’s shadow. The all-powerful God stands beside us, covering us as an impenetrable fortress. He is our refuge, one we can always trust. “For he will deliver you from the snare of the flower and from the deadly pestilence,” the psalmist writes. “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler” (vv. 3-4). God’s faithfulness serves as our best defense. He has promised to not leave us, and He always keeps His promises. And when the all-powerful God is our shield, there’s really not much anyone can do against us. “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked” (vv. 7-8). All this is true for those who have made God their refuge.
When we are with God, we are never alone. Verses 11 and 12 state, “For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Whether that’s just poetic imagery, or whether there are constantly angels surrounding us and guarding us, the point remains the same: God is always watching over us. He will keep us from harm when we are hiding in Him.
The last stanza is written from God’s perspective. “‘Because he holds fast to me in love,’” God says, “‘I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation’” (vv.14-16). We are often afraid, but God invites us to trust in Him instead of looking at our fears. And when we do, this is what He promises for us. He promises to deliver us, protect us, answer us, be with us, rescue us, and honor us. Looking at it that way, what do we really have to fear?