Psalm 91 – “Blessing for the Believer”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The psalmist describes a person who puts his trust in God and blesses him with divine protection.

II. Photo
God protects the believer: “He will cover you with His pinions; you will find refuge under His wings; His fidelity is an encircling shield.” (v. 4)

III. Select Verses    
1: O you who dwell in the shelter of the Most High and abide in the protection of Shaddai
4-8: He will cover you with His pinions; you will find refuge under His wings; His fidelity is an encircling shield.  You need not fear the terror by night, or the arrow that flies by day,  the plague that stalks in the darkness, or the scourge that ravages at noon.  A thousand may fall at your left side, ten thousand at your right, but it shall not reach you.  You will see it with your eyes, you will witness the punishment of the wicked.
11-13: For He will order His angels to guard you wherever you go.   They will carry you in their hands lest you hurt your foot on a stone.  You will tread on cubs and vipers; you will trample lions and asps.
14-16: “Because he is devoted to Me I will deliver him; I will keep him safe, for he knows My name.  When he calls on Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in distress; I will rescue him and make him honored;  I will let him live to a ripe old age, and show him My salvation.”

IV. Outline

1-4. Introduction
    1-2. Address/Description of a believer
    3-4. Rationale: God will protect the believer
5-. Blessing
    5-8. Blessing: safety, the fall of enemies
    9. Rationale: belief/trust
    10. Blessing: lack of harm
    11-12. Method: God’s angels will protect
    13. Blessing: overcoming wild animals
14-16. Oracle: God’s blessing and rationale

V. Comment
Like a number of other psalms that appear late in the Psalter, Psalm 91 lacks a superscription (but the Septuagint has a Davidic heading). The psalmist describes a trusting believer, blesses him with divine protection, and ends with an oracle of blessing. Verses 11-13 are particularly interesting to those interested in biblical angelogy: “For He will order His angels to guard you wherever you go.  They will carry you in their hands lest you hurt your foot on a stone. You will tread on cubs and vipers; you will trample lions and asps.” While scholars such as Gerstenberger suggest that the belief in the protection of angels is a late biblical concept, there are a number of “early” passages that present this conception:

  • Gen. 24:7b – He will send His angel before you, and you will get a wife for my son from there.
  • Gen. 24:40 – He replied to me, ‘The LORD, whose ways I have followed, will send His angel with you and make your errand successful; and you will get a wife for my son from my kindred, from my father’s house.
  • Ex. 14:19a  – The angel of God, who had been going ahead of the Israelite army, now moved and followed behind them.
  • Ex. 23:20 –  I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready.
  • Ex. 23:23  – When My angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I annihilate them,
  • Ex. 32:34a – Go now, lead the people where I told you. See, My angel shall go before you.
  • 1Kings 19:5-8 –  He lay down and fell asleep under a broom bush. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”   He looked about; and there, beside his head, was a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water! He ate and drank, and lay down again.   The angel of the LORD came a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.”  He arose and ate and drank; and with the strength from that meal he walked forty days and forty nights as far as the mountain of God at Horeb.
  • 2Kings 19:35  – That night an angel of the LORD went out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp, and the following morning they were all dead corpses.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Gerstenberger, Erhard. Psalms Part 2 and Lamentations (Forms of Old Testament Literature; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001).
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