Psalms 90–92: My Refuge & My Fortress

Read the Bible in 2011Week 31: Wednesday

He who dwells in the shelter
of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”

Psalm 91:1–2

Wednesday’s Bible reading is Psalms 90–92. Psalm 91 is a well-known and beloved psalm because of its promises and reassurance of God’s care and deliverance. The writer opens with his witness to us that God is his shelter and protection: “My refuge and my fortress, My God in whom I trust!

Derek Kidner has some wonderful insights into this psalm. His commentary provides comfort and assurance, and his explanations of some of the phrases keeps us from presumption. I found his words to be so helpful to me that I wanted to share some of them with you. I’ve added links to Kidner’s Bible references. These are some of his comments on the opening verses:

“So the psalmist declares his own faith before applying it to us. It is an eloquent opening, enriched not only by the four metaphors for security but by the four divine names. Most High is a title which cuts every threat down to size; Almighty (Shaddai) is the name which sustained the homeless patriarchs (Ex. 6:3). By the further appellation, The Lord (Yahweh), Moses was assured that ‘I am’ and ‘I am with you’ (Ex. 3:14, 12 NEB); while even the general term ‘God’ is made intimate by the possessive, as my God.”1

He divides the psalm into three sections according to the change of person, and titles them: My Refuge: 1–2, Your Refuge: 3–13, and God’s Pledge: 14–16.2 In the second section of Psalm 91, the psalmist contrasts danger with God’s care. Kidner writes:

“Most of these dangers are of a kind which strike unseen, against which the strong are as helpless as the weak….

“As for God’s care, it combines the warm protectiveness of a parent bird (4; cf. Dt. 32:11; Mt. 23:37) with the hard, unyielding strength of armour (4b). Shield and buckler gave respectively the cover that was large and static, and small and mobile.”3

Kidner’s thoughts on some of the verses in this second section emphasize, as he phrases it, God’s “exact, minute providence” and help guard us from using Psalm 91 as a “charm against adversity.” We need to know that God is sovereign over every detail of our lives, and trust Him to care for us.

7–10. Individual protection. You is emphatic: ‘to you it will not draw near’. This is, of course, a statement of exact, minute providence, not a charm against adversity. The no less sweeping promised of Romans 8:28 (‘….every- thing…for good with those who love him’) does not exclude ‘nakedness, or peril, or sword’ (8:35); cf. again the paradox of Luke 21:16, 18. What it does assure us is that nothing can touch God’s servant but by God’s leave; equally (8) that no rebel can escape His retribution.

11–13. Miraculous protection. This brings the promise doubly to a climax, by revealing the unseen host ‘sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation’ (Heb.1:14, AV) and by depicting God’s servants not merely as survivors but as victors, who trample deadly enemies under foot.

11f. It was characteristic of the devil to read this promise as an invitation to arrogance (Mt. 4:6). It was characteristics of God, Father and Son, that angelic help was sent when it was most needed (Mt. 4:11; Lk. 22:43), accepted as strength for service and sacrifice, and refused for self-advantage (Mt. 26:53f.).”4

Psalm 91 closes with God’s promises to those who love Him. I have highlighted in gold words that express our trust in God. God’s promises to us are highlighted in orange:

“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With a long life satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”
Psalm 91:14–16

Kidner writes on these last verses:

“The trust that invites the Lord’s protection has already been compared to our taking shelter under His roof (1, 2, 9). Now this trust is analyzed into three of its constituents, and God’s safe keeping into as many as eight.

“The word for he cleaves to me in love [NAS: loved] is used elsewhere in contexts of setting one’s heart on somebody or on some enterprise. As man’s commitment to God it comes only here. Deuteronomy 7:7; 10:15 reminds Israel that God’s commitment, not man’s came first. He knows my name is the second element, since the relationship has rational content, and rests on revelation (cf. 76:1; Ex. 34:5–7). The third element asserts the basic simplicity of it: he calls to me. At bottom the bond is between helper and helpless, a matter of grace.”

“On God’s side, the eight expressions in 14–16 for what He undertakes are not only eight aspects of the whole. There is perhaps a certain progress traceable from the thought of His initial deliverance to that of His abiding companionship (with him’) and crowning gifts of glory, length of days (1b; see on 23:6, end) and a salvation no longer waited for but seen. For the Christian, these last three gifts (cf., respectively, Rom. 8:18, 11, 23–25) reveal dimensions only occasionally evident to the saints of the Old Testament.”5

Go back and reread Psalm 91. Read Romans 8.

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37–39

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2, 3, 4, 5Derek Kidner, Psalms 73–150, pp. 332, 332–333, 332–333, 333, 333–334.
Rock Shelter: Turtlehead Cave in Strouds Run State Park, by Jaknouse: Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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