Psalm 91 is my favorite Psalm of all. When I read it, especially from the New Living Translation, it really gives me a plain understanding and confidence that the Lord has a purpose for my life and that nothing physically or spiritually outside of myself can stop me from fulfilling it. Here it is in its entirety:
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord : He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” (Psalms 91:1-16 NLT)
We know that God can always protect everyone. We know that He has sometimes protected many. We know that He will often protect some. We also know that God is sovereign and wise, not always choosing to do all of that which He is able to do.
In Psalm 91, the Lord is not only offering the believer His ability to provide physical protection, but also the ability to provide spiritual protection.
“We are immortal until our work on earth is done.” (George Whitefield)
But, Psalm 91 should never be construed as a pledge of unqualified physical protection to all believers for all time in all circumstances.
In order not to misinterpret Psalm 91, we must always keep at the forefront that the ‘Lord’s will’ trumps all. I have examined the lives of both Jesus and Paul and have included the key verses below that show the reality of their lives proving that the ‘Lord’s will’ comes first and how the 91st Psalm protects them to fulfill the Lord’s purpose they were destined for:
After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Matthew 2:13 NLT)
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written (Psalm 91:11-12): ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” (Matthew 4:5-7 NKJV)
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9, 10 NKJV)
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26:39 NLT)
“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?” (Matthew 26:52-54 NLT)
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go, for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15, 16 NKJV)
Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NLT)
That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.” The next morning a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. But when I (Claudius Lysias) was informed of a plot to kill him, I immediately sent him on to you (Felix).(Acts 23:11-12, 30 NLT)
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39 NLT)
In conclusion, I would like to point out that nowhere in either Psalm 91 nor Romans 8, is it written nor is it implied that the Lord promises to protect us from ourself. The Lord is a gentleman that respects our free will. We have a lifetime of choices as we walk this earth and that is why we have the ability to one day be higher than the angels. We are predestined as followers of Christ to eternal life for remaining in Christ, not as individuals without real choice that must go from the womb, thru life, then to Heaven. We are sealed to prevent anything from contaminating us from the outside against our will, not from inner contamination. Even though He stands at our door and knocks and He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will never force His way in or force Himself upon us. I believe He does all this to assure us that He has our front and back. All we have to do is walk from day to day, giving Him full control of our inner being so that we will be able to fulfill the purpose He designed us for!