Psalm 91 is a good psalm to read if you are in the middle of a stressful situation and feel like there is no way out. Many times, we face situations that are difficult and seem impossible to get past. This psalm reminds us that God’s protection surrounds us, even in the worst situations.
Psalm 91 begins with bird imagery. God himself is portrayed as a large, falcon-like bird that provides protection to His children under his wings. Verse one reminds us that we must stay under God’s protection in order to have any kind of security. Each of the following verses echoes this truth. Verse two states that God is a refuge and a fortress. This gives the imagery that God is an escape from impending doom and a defense against those forces that would come against us. Verses three and four return to the bird imagery, painting the believer as a small fragile bird in danger of being captured by the fowler’s (bird hunter) snares. The verses state that God will save us out of those snares (visible pitfalls) and the diseases (invisible pitfalls) that will come our way. God will cover us with his protection.
The second part of verse four takes on a military theme. The verse states that God is our shield and buckler. Many are familiar with the function of a shield. It protects a large area of the body from approaching attacks, making it much more difficult for the enemy to make a strike. What many of us are not familiar with is a buckler. A buckler is a type of small shield that covers the hand (Sword Academy, n.d.). Not only does it protect the sword hand from being cut, but it also blocks the enemy’s view of how the swordsman is holding the sword. This is crucial in battle because it allows the attacking swordsman to surprise their intended target without telegraphing their indented blow.
While the previous verses give general reassurance that God will protect the believer, verses five through eight show the strength of the protection God will provide. The image is that a large group of enemies, numbering in the thousands, surrounds the believer. The arrows of the enemy soar through the air, blotting out the rays of the sun, and come screaming down at the believer, each one missing their mark. The disease-ridden creatures used by the enemy army to terrify and infect avoid the believer and have no effect. Suddenly, a thousand of the enemy’s hordes fall to the ground dead. To the right of the believer, nearly two legions of warriors are blown backwards, slain by the unseen force. Something terrible, more sinister than the enemies on the field has arrived. It lurks, stalks, and heartily desires to devour the one left standing in the center of this deadly destruction, but it cannot because the Lord’s hand holds it back. This is the power and the fury of God’s protection in the face of danger.
Whatever it is that grips you with fear, know that it has no power over you. You are shielded from harm by God’s hand. God has given you the advantage in the battle, blinding the eyes of the enemy so that you may make the fatal blow. Do not fear. God’s hands have delivered the victory to you.
Sword Academy. (n.d.). Buckler. Retrieved October 6, 2010, from Sword Academy