Q353 : What Does Psalm 91 Mean to the Church?

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Q353 : What Does Psalm 91 Mean to the Church?

What does Psalm 91 mean to the Church?

It this for us or Israel?

A353 : by Tony Garland

Psalm 91 contains numerous promises regarding God’s protection of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High (Psalm 91:1),1 including a promise which seems especially relevant regarding the recent worldwide Coronavirus pandemic:

10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; (Psalm 91:10)

It is my view that many of the Psalms, although written by individuals who were part of Israel in the Old Testament (David, Solomon, and others), state principles, hopes, and concerns which are universal in scope—which apply to believers of all ages. I would place Psalm 91 in that category.2

Having said that, it is important not to view individual Psalms in isolation. In this, they are much like Proverbs: general principles are set forth, but—in the sovereign purpose and will of God—the principles will not always hold in every situation.

Not because the principles stated therein are untrue, but because we lack knowledge of the secret (unrevealed) will of God (Deu. 29:29). The general principles in the Psalms and Proverbs are true, yet God—in His sovereignty—does not guarantee the same experience for every believer. This is because His will for each individual situation may differ.

Consider Job: if one were to read the book of Job in isolation from Psalm 91 (or vice versa) one would come away concluding that God will never protect a believer from intense experiences (as seen from the perspective of Job) or that God will always protect a believer from all harm (as seen from the perspective of Psalm 91). Yet we know that both Job and Psalm 91 are inspired by the Holy Spirit and contain divine truth. Somehow, they both fit together.

Despite the many promises for the child of God in Psalm 91, there are times when it is according to God's purpose to allow negative things into the life of the believer. In situations such as these, the seemingly broad and unconditional promises of safety one reads in Psalm 91 will not necessarily apply on an individual basis.

This was also a point made by Jesus when He referred to the people upon whom the tower of Siloam fell (Luke 13:1-5).

1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all [other] Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all [other] men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

As is is often the case, others assumed that the death of those people represented God's judgment. After all, hasn't God promised to protect those who are His (e.g., Psalm 91)? But Jesus revealed that there are situations — common to living in a fallen world — where the negative aspects of the curse (due to the fall of mankind) impinge on both unbelievers and believers.

God's promises of protection must be seen in light of: 1) our common experience living in a fallen world; 2) God's sovereign design for each individual. This means that even when (not if) we go through difficulties we have the immense benefit of knowing for certain that the difficulties are according to God's will and that we will ultimately be preserved nevertheless.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose. . . . 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28,35-39)

Whether God intervenes with blessings or allows severe challenges to enter our lives, we must learn to trust in His providence and good intentions, no matter how things may look.

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. . . (Job 13:15a)


1.Unless indicated otherwise, all Scripture references are from the New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2.Satan references Psalm 91:11-12 as a promise applicable to Jesus during His Temptation (Matthew 4:6).

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