Theme: Trusting God in All Circumstances
In this week’s lessons, we learn what it means to trust fully in God, and what the blessings are for those who do.
Scripture: Psalm 91:1-16
As we noted in yesterday’s reading, the psalm’s promises are for you only if the God of the Bible is your God. And what promises they are! There are four metaphors for the security we can have in God. God will be our “shelter” and “shadow” (v. 1) and our “refuge” and “fortress” (v. 2). There are also four names for God, which give substance and strength to the metaphors. He is “the Most High,” “the Almighty” (v. 1), “the LORD” and “my God” (v. 2). When the psalmist identifies God as his God in the last expression, it is a way of saying that the shelter, shadow, refuge and fortress are for those who really do dwell in God and trust him. Spurgeon wrote, “The blessings here promised are not for all believers, but for those who live in close fellowship with God. Every child of God looks towards the inner sanctuary and the mercy-seat, yet all do not dwell in the most holy place; they run to it at times, and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in the mysterious presence.”1
So here is a second application: Do you live in close fellowship with God? Do you rest in the shadow of the Almighty? Is he your place of habitual dwelling? The psalm is written to urge you to trust and cling to God in all circumstances.
Having stated his own personal faith in God, the psalmist now commends that faith to us, taking six verses to explain what God will do for the one who trusts him. The most striking feature of this section (and the one following) is the use of the singular “you” throughout, which is a way of saying that these truths are for each person individually. They are for you if you will truly trust or abide in God.
Verse 3 sets the tone for this section by saying that God will save the trusting soul from two kinds of dangers: first, the subtle snare of enemies, described as the trap a fowler used to catch birds, and second, death by disease or pestilence. This does not mean that those who trust God never die from infectious diseases or suffer from an enemy’s plot, of course. It means that those who trust God are habitually delivered from such dangers. What Christian cannot testify to many such deliverances? Indeed, our entire lives are filled with deliverances from many and manifold dangers, until God finally takes us to be with himself.
The words “deadly pestilence” (v. 3) and later “the pestilence that stalks in the darkness” and “the plague that destroys at midday” (v. 6) help us recall many instances of such protection.
Lord Craven was a nobleman who was a Christian, and who was living in London when plague ravaged the city in the fifteenth century. In order to escape the spreading pestilence Craven determined to leave the city for his country home, as many of his social standing did. He ordered his coach and baggage made ready. But as he was walking down one of the halls of his home about to enter his carriage he overheard one of his servants say to another, “I suppose by my Lord’s quitting London to avoid the plague that his God lives in the country and not in town.” It was a straightforward and apparently innocent remark. But it struck Lord Craven so deeply that he canceled his journey, saying, “My God lives everywhere and can preserve me in town as well as in the country. I will stay where I am.” So he stayed in London. He helped the plague victims, and he did not catch the disease himself.2
1Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2b, Psalms 88-110 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966), p. 88.
2The story is told by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2b, Psalms 88-110, p. 98.
Metaphor: a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable, in order to suggest a resemblance.
Describe the four metaphors in this portion of the psalm.
What does God promise to do for those who trust him?
Reflection: Do you live in close fellowship with God? Do you rest in the shadow of the Almighty? Is he your place of habitual dwelling?
Application: What does it mean to truly trust or abide in God? Look up other passages in Scripture to learn more about abiding. How does this help you understand the passage?
Prayer: Pray that you may live your life in close fellowship with God.