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Psalm 91—The “Warrior’s Psalm”

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Editor’s Note:  Oswald Chambers’ August 15th prayer from the collection of his personal diaries reads, “Lord, I feel myself longing for Thee and Thy life, and I am turning to the 91st Psalm for assurance–‘Surely He shall deliver thee.’  Lord, I am assured of it, and would thank Thee for the sweet sense of Thy protecting care.”

1? He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

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2? I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
?3? Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
?4? He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
?5? You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
?6? nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
?7? A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
?8? You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
?9? If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the Lord, who is my refuge—
?10? then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
?11? For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
?12? they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
?13? You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
?14? “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
?15? He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
?16? With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

For thousands of years, this psalm has been an inspiration, comfort, and promise for warriors in harm’s way. It is amazing to read the ancient descriptions of warfare described by the psalmist, and compare it to what we see in the global war on terror today. Insurgency, snipers, suicide bombers, IEDs, environmental terrorism—they seem to fit into the words “fowler’s snare”, “deadly pestilence”, “terror of night”, “arrow that flies by day”, “pestilence that stalks in the darkness”, “plague that destroys at midday.” What does God have to say in Psalm 91 that can calm our fears and help us to face the challenges?

Verse one begins with a great truth written in the third person. . . that he who dwells, or abides, in the shelter that God provides will be resting in His shadow. The psalmist then makes this personal and speaks in the first person. . . stating clearly that God is his refuge, his fortress, his God whom he trusts. This is a magnificent testimony! Was this David writing to his son, Solomon? Some have suggested this—but we do not know. Certainly a warrior like David would have much to share about the faithfulness of God in battle—things that he might want to pass on to others as means of encouragement and wisdom.

The description of God’s shelter in verse four is the image of God’s wings which surround, cover, protect. . . with His faithfulness as a shield. Within that bunker of strength the reader will be separated from the devastation around him. Is this physical protection or spiritual protection? We need both—not just in our physical battles but also in the realm of spiritual battles.

Verse nine begins with another great truth. . . that he who makes God his dwelling will be protected and guarded. The statement of verse one now becomes the challenge of verse nine with the word “if.” That is always the challenge. . .and the choice. Will we choose to dwell (abide) in the dwelling place of God?

If the reader chooses to allow God to be his shelter, as the psalmist proclaims that he has done, then the LORD speaks the greatest truth of all in verses 14-16. He tenderly, yet powerfully proclaims that those who love Him, who name His name. . . He will rescue. Our cries for help, in the form of prayer, He will answer and His protection is sure even in the midst of battle.

And how does the LORD provide and protect? With His presence, His peace. We can trust His faithfulness knowing that He loves us, has a plan for our lives, and desires for us to live eternally with Him. It is fitting that the psalmist ends this beautiful poem with the great truth, “and show him my salvation.” Do you know his salvation? His salvation was provided by the ultimate warrior, Jesus Christ. In the past, two thousand years ago, He faced the all-time champion of evil at Calvary and shed His blood in death on the cross for our victory. In the present we continue in battle with the enemy, but have His armor with which to stand and fight. And in the future day He will return, fight the last battle, and reign victorious over all the earth.

How can we, in this modern age, personalize Psalm 91, this “warrior’s psalm”? In any verse where you see the word “you”, insert “me” or “I”. For example: “If (I) make the Most High (my) dwelling—even the LORD, who is my (the psalmist’s) refuge—then no harm will befall (me), no disaster will come near (my) tent. For He will command His angels concerning (me) to guard (me) in all (my) ways.” vs. 9-11

And for the loved ones at home, on the home front. . . how can you personalize this psalm in order to pray for your dear one deployed in harm’s way? Put his or her name where you read “you” or “your”. For example: “Surely He will save (name) from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover (name) with His feathers, and under His wings (name) will find refuge; His faithfulness will be (name’s) shield and rampart.” vs. 3-4

We invite you to take Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and to personalize John 3:16 in declaration that you have believed and trusted in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, “For God so loved (me), that He gave His only Son, that if (I) believe in Him, (I) will never perish but have eternal life.” It is then that you have made the decision to not only dwell in the shelter of the LORD, but to make Him your dwelling place, for all of eternity.

Work Cited:

Chambers, Oswald, The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 2000), p. 646.

Questions to Share:

1. In what ways does Psalm 91 give confidence to today’s Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman?

2. In what ways does the promise of eternal life with Jesus provide the ultimate peace and protection?

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