There are over 3,000 independent promises in the Scriptures, it is said, and of these there are two classes: 1, conditional; and 2, unconditional. Such passages as (Isa. 35), "The earth shall blossom as the rose," are to come to pass whether we are good or bad, the earth will blossom, there are no conditions. This is part of the glad tidings which shall be to all people. Such passages as (Re 3:21), "He that overcometh will I grant to sit with him on my throne" is promised only to those who overcome, hence it is conditional. So with regard to a promise there are three questions: 1, "Is it conditional or not?" 2, "If there are conditions, what are they?" 3, "Are we fulfilling these conditions?"
Psa 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
The first verse tells us who have the promises of this psalm. They are only for those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High.
Place is used to mean either locality or position, here it means the position occupied by the truly consecrated, very near to the Father, which is a secret, a mystery to the world. Jesus’ life was a mystery; people could not understand how a man of such talent could give up all to lead the lowly life he led. The Apostles were poor uneducated men, yet they were in this secret place. It is not for the merely justified, not even for all the consecrated, but only for those who are willing to be misunderstood, to be a mystery. Abide (Margin to Lodge), another translation gives "to pass the night" which is very appropriate. The day is coming but it is night now and has been for the past six thousand years. We pass the night under his shadow, his protection. Shadows are very indistinct during the night, but when the sun rises they become clearly marked, so in the Millennial morning it will be known clearly who has been and is in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psa 91:2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Who is speaking here? David wrote the psalm, but it is one of those instances, and they are many, in which David is a type of Christ. In this whole psalm it is Christ who is speaking. Lord—Jehovah (always so if in capital letters, otherwise it refers to ‘Elohim’ (mighty one) etc. or may refer to Jehovah.) Here it refers to Jehovah.
Refuge-place to flee to when in trouble, to hide in. Fortress-place which can protect when one flees to it. Many have refuges, such as secret societies, unions, etc., but these are not fortresses for they will fail in the time of trouble. Jesus said Jehovah was his refuge and fortress, his God. Such a fortress cannot fail. He will be a protection in the greatest, the seventh trouble. He is our God; and we are as safe in Him as Jesus was, but only while we remain in Him.
Psa 91:3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
A fowler is one who catches birds. Satan is the great fowler, and the birds are the Lord’s people. Fishes live in the water, the animals live on the land, but the birds are far above the world, so are the Lord’s people. ("They shall mount up on wings like eagles"). Birds have more liberty than other creatures. So the children of God have the unbounded liberty which Christ gives; not the liberty to sin, nor to work merely for one’s self, that is not liberty but license; but liberty from thralldom of sin and of self.
The amount of liberty which a bird has depends on the plane of his flight. If it flies in a very high plane, there will be nothing to obstruct the view or its flight. If the plane is near the earth, the tree-tops and the buildings will be in its way, and it can neither fly so freely nor see so far; if the plane be still lower the trees and the fences are in its way until it has not much more liberty than the animals, and it is in danger of many snares. Likewise the Christian, his liberty depends on the height of his plane of flight, his spiritual plane. If it is very high, he is in no danger of snares or of obstructions to clear sight, but the nearer we come to earth the more danger there is for snares, and we may allow ourselves to get so low as to have but little more liberty than the world.
Birds can see farther than other creatures. So of the Christian it is written:—"Thine eye shall behold the land that is very far off." And we can see that land, the Kingdom of God, now very near, while those on the earth can see nothing of it and refuse to believe us. Just as a bird flying high in the air might say to a little dog on the earth: "I see over yonder a beautiful lake"; and the dog would say: "I don’t believe it, I cannot see any lake. There is no lake there or I could see it as well as you." So the world refuses to believe the glad tidings.
Satan is not a fisherman or a hunter. He does not care for those beneath the level of the world, nor yet for those who are of the world, for these are already under his power; but he is after the birds, those who are out of his power.
Snare-systems of false teachings and false doctrines. A snare has two parts: a, the bait; b, the snare proper. The bait is the amount of truth which may be in any of these systems. There is a great difference in the setting of snares, some have more bait than others. Mormonism has but little bait, and so does not attract many. The error in the system is the snare. The snare is usually hidden but the bait is in open view; so the truths of these systems are pressed to the front in full view, while the error is not often seen until the bait is swallowed. Keep in the narrow way, for it contains no snares; the snares are set by the wayside. There are many stones and obstructions in the narrow way and many turn aside to seek easier, smoother paths and fall into these snares.
Satan catches us to put us in a cage. The organizations is the cage, and is based on the snare. For instance: when one accepts the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, he has swallowed the bait and is caught in the snare; but when he joins the Kingdom Hall, he is in the cage. There are many cages (Judaism, Sabbath Keeping, Prosperity, Sectarianism etc.) and having been made free let us not go back into any of them.
"Flee like a bird to the mountains" (God’s kingdom), that is by progressive steps upward. Only birds flee upwards above the earth.
He will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler. (See Psalm 11:1.) Noisome pestilence (Hebrew-wordy) is the pestilence of false doctrines now abroad over the earth as never before, and at last will become so great as to deceive all but the very elect. Those will not be deceived, for He will deliver them.
Psa 91:4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
"Cover thee with his feathers." The Lord Jehovah is the mother bird. What are the Lord’s feathers? In nature we do not see the bird itself, but its feathers. He is clothed with light (Psalm 104:2). We see the light (the feathers) but not Him.
The wings enable the mother bird to fly to its children. What brought the Lord to us? The death and resurrection of Jesus (Eph 2:16). Love provided the death of Jesus, and power raised him from the dead (Joh 3:16; Ac 13:30). Hence, love and power are two wings, and under these we find shelter (Leeser). And if He, in his love and power, did so much for us when we were yet sinners, what will He not do for us now that we love Him. (Ro 5:10.) His truth, God’s word; "Thy word is truth." (Joh 17:17.)
Shield is a part of the armor which goes ahead of the body. So the Old Testament is the shield which went before the body of Christ, it existed before the body was begun. The buckler fitted tight against the body, and fitly represents the New Testament. Satan tries to induce Christians to lay aside their shield and buckler. Some are willing, others object but are willing to split the difference, and cast away their shield, as many today have discarded the Old Testament.
Psa 91:5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Psa 91:6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Here, and in verse six are named four trials, which if we are faithful we shall escape, and we need not fear any of them. 1, Terror by night—time of trouble. We are not afraid, because we can see why it must be, and the glory beyond it; but the world fears it for they cannot see ahead. 2, Arrow that flieth by day—persecution. The wicked shoot arrows at the righteous, even bitter words." (Ps 64:3) 3, Pestilence walking in darkness—false doctrines. 4, Destruction that wasteth at noon-day. Noon-day (full light) in the heart of the consecrated, the time when a full and sufficient knowledge for the condition is reached. If we fall away after we receive full light there remaineth only second death. (Heb 6:4-8; 10:26-31) Hence the destruction wasting at noon-day—second death.
Psa 91:7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
A thousand fall at thy side—those all about us, the number falling away at our side is increasing. Ten thousand at thy right hand—our best friends. First those around us, and then our closest friends. They fall to a lower level, the trouble does not come to the saints, those who are faithful.
Psa 91:8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou see: see the fall of the unfaithful, drifting into outer darkness.
Psa 91:9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
Psa 91:10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
No evil befall thee.—We do not always discern rightly what is for our good, or what is for our ill, and we often think those things evil which God knows are for our good, if we will receive them rightly.
Plagues are the spiritual plagues and diseases; none of these things shall befall us because we have made the Most High our habitation.
Psa 91:11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Psa 91:12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Satan quoted these verses to our Lord, but left out the middle part, misapplying the verse. It is dangerous to let Satan quote scripture to us. These angels keep us, not in all things, but only in our ways. They help us overcome the obstacles and trials, suggest scripture texts to us at the time when, and of the kind most needed.
We have consecrated to God’s way, not our own, or anyone else’s way, and hence this promise holds good to us only when our ways are His ways. ("In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Prov 3:6)
Psa 91:13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Lion and Adder—Satan, who was the serpent in Eden, and who now goes about as a roaring lion. Do not turn out for him, tread on the Lion and Adder. Young lion and dragon—those used by him (young in iniquity as compared to him).
Psa 91:14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
Because we set our love on Him He will deliver us, not because of any merit on our part, in ourselves. Set Him on high; God’s idea of high is very high; His day—1000 years with us—365,000 of our days; hence high—immortality and to share His throne.
Suppose there was a very wealthy man who owned a fine estate, and in conversation with a poor man, should describe the estate. The poor man remarks: "How beautiful an estate that is, and how pleasant it must be to live there!" The owner says: "Yes, it is a very beautiful estate, it is worth over a million dollars, in fact I have been offered that much for it. How would you like to have it?" "I, why I could not buy such a beautiful estate as that, I am a poor man."—"But how much would you give for it?"—"What! I could not buy it, I have nothing to pay for such an estate: Why all I have in the world is only 5 cents."—"Now, I’ll tell you what I’ll do; I’ll give you that estate for your own if you will give me the 5 cents."—"What! Sell a million-dollar estate for 5 cents! What do you mean?"—"I mean that I will give you that estate to be yours if you will give me the 5 cents"—"Well! Well! That is certainly a magnificent offer. H’mm! But 5 cents is all I have, can’t you let me have it for 3 cents? I must have at least 2 cents."—"No, I want the 5 cents, all you have."—"Well, I’ll split the difference, I’ll give you 4 cents for it."—"Man, you cannot have the estate at all, you are not worthy of it!"
So the Lord has offered out, during this gospel age, the wonderful and beautiful estate of the High Calling, the Divine Nature, asking in return for its immeasurable value our little all, not part of what we have, but all we have, which in comparison with the Divine Nature is in vastly inferior ratio that is 5 cents to a million dollars. Yet some people have tried to haggle the Lord down, and give him only a portion of their all. Verily, such are not worthy of such an estate.
Psa 91:15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
"He shall call upon me and I will answer him." God does not always answer as we expect. He answers yes or no, as His wisdom directs, and always for our good. He will be with us in trouble and will deliver us. He delivers us here from worry and care, and the snares of evil, and later we shall be completely delivered from this body of sinful flesh to the divine nature. It is now the cross, but then the crown. What a small change of two letters, makes of a cross, a crown! ‘S’ stands for many evils; sin, sickness, sorrow, suffering, etc.
From all evil we will be delivered and shall have the crown of life, if we are faithful. And He will honor us, we shall have His approval and great honor. (Ps 149:7,8,9.)
Psa 91:16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
"With long life will I satisfy Him." God’s idea of long is eternal, He will give us immortality, the divine nature. "I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness." (Ps 17:15.) "I will show Him my salvation." Jesus is speaking, His salvation is to the divine nature. To be shown this, one must share it.