With the Coronavirus sweeping across almost all borders, fear and anxiety have gripped hearts around the world. No one seems safe anymore and everyone is searching for methods of protection. In times of crisis, however, the children of God, as it has happened right through history, can find encouragement and comfort through the promises of God. One such passage people often turn to for comfort is Psalm 91.
Psalm 91 Section 1: (Verses 1-8)
Verses 1-4 of the Psalm illustrate at least 7 powerful symbols of God’s protection. They are;
a) His Shelter – We hear of many shelters today including nuclear shelters, bomb shelters, and doomsday shelters. We may soon even hear of virus shelters. Can we reflect on God’s shelter as well?
b) His Shadow – Similar to a shade that protects from the blazing sun or torrential rain.
c) A Refuge – The Longman Dictionary describes ‘Refuge’ as “A place that provides protection or shelter from danger”.
d) A Fortress – Providing protection to a city
e) His Wings – Resembling the tenderness with which a mother bird protects her offspring
f) A Shield – Used in times of war and which can be used now, when the enemy fires his darts at us. We are right now in the middle of a very different but dangerous war.
g) Rampart – I am reminded of the walls of the historic fort built in the city of Galle, in my country Sri Lanka, hundreds of years ago. They still stand firm today and the fort is a much-visited heritage site.
As we consider the 7 symbols of protection shown above, let’s be truly encouraged by the defense mechanisms the Lord has given us. Why then, should we allow fear and anxiety to overwhelm us?
Verses 3 and 5-6, show us the stark reality of two threats we face in life; the threat from enemies (fowler’s snare and arrows) and the terror of disease epidemics (pestilence and plagues). However, we are assured once again of God’s protection at all times of the day (refer words like night, day, darkness, midday). This protection is further emphasized in verse 7 of Psalm 91.
As I was reflecting on verse 7 and the reference to ‘thousand and ten thousand falling’, it seemed so very similar to what we are experiencing around the world today. However, at this crucial time, I would like to suggest that we look at things from a different perspective.
Joshua 23;10 says, ”One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as He promised”. Jesus also said, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 18:19) While the passage this verse is found in may relate primarily to sorting out sin and relationship problems in the church, it also tells us that we can find God’s help and guidance, whenever we join together in agreement in prayer.
Psalm 91 Section 2: (Verses 9-16)
As mentioned earlier in this article, verses 9-10 of Psalm 91, correspond with verses 1-2. They bring reassurance of God’s protection. That protection is further emphasized in verses 11-12 through the ministry of His holy angels. The New International Bible Commentary says, “God’s tender care is such that He even supplies a celestial bodyguard around the believer, who carry him along the rock-strewn road” (Pages 619-620).
Some believe that Psalm 91 is also a Messianic Psalm, partly because satan quoted verses 11-12 to Jesus during His temptations (Luke 4:10-11). Jesus however, refused to be drawn into temptation and rebuked Satan with scripture. Jesus would most probably have ended up as a celebrity if He had followed Satan’s advice and thrown Himself down from the highest point of the temple. He refused however because He only wanted to fulfill God’s will.
In these difficult times, let’s be grounded in the promises of God’s Holy Word and let’s share His powerful Word wherever we can. Let’s also humble ourselves in His presence and desire to honor Him in every way.
Verses 13 of the Psalm brings up the challenge of wild beasts as reflected in the imagery of the ferocity of a lion and the poison of a cobra. This is illustrated again in verse 13 through the references to a ‘great lion’ and ‘the serpent’. It’s good to remind ourselves that “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But the battle is won!
In the final 3 verses of Psalm 91, God’s blessings proclaimed on the people. Eight such blessings assured for those who love the Lord (verse 14), acknowledge His name (verse 14), and call upon Him (verse 15). They are:
a) “I will rescue him” (14)
b) “I will protect him” (14)
c) “I Will answer him” (15)
d) “I will be with him in trouble” (15)
e) “I Will deliver him” (15)
f) (I will) honor him” (15)
g) “With long life will I satisfy him” (16)
h) “(I will) show him my salvation” (16)
In closing, I pray that the thoughts in this article will encourage you and give you new hope today. That they will help you face life wherever you are, in the midst of the difficult challenges around. However, please also take all necessary precautions as advised by the authorities regarding COVID-19.