The Ninety-First Psalm
by Bliss Knapp
The 91st Psalm is one of the greatest chapters of the Bible. Like the rest of the Scriptures, the underlying thought is developed through a series of symbols and it is by the appreciation of the values lying behind these symbols that the power of this prayer is understood.
The 91st Psalm is one of the most powerful prayers ever written. Persons have gotten themselves out of every conceivable kind of trouble by working on this prayer every day in the spiritual way. Others have turned to this Psalm in some great emergency and overcome their difficulties.
The best way to get the most out of this Psalm is to read it through quietly, pause after each verse to consider the meaning. Prayer is thinking about God; and while working on this prayer in the study you are praying in a spiritual way. If in a specific trouble or fearful, after reading this Psalm several times, your fears will be gone. Let us think on it in detail.
1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High: Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty:
The secret place of the most High is your consciousness, not some place in the sky. God is only to be contacted within. Jesus emphasized this truth again and again. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” he said. When asked where the kingdom of God could be found, he said, “When you pray, enter into the closet and shut the door”, meaning to return in thought to your consciousness. “To abide under the shadow of the Almighty” means to live under the protection of God Himself. This impresses upon you that God is Almighty, and that he can therefore overcome our present difficulty for us, no matter how big it may seem at the moment. “With God all things are possible.” Remember this promise is made to “him that dwelleth.” If one runs to the secret place now and then in trouble, he can scarcely be said to “dwell” there.
God will come to our rescue when we pray, but if we seldom think of Him at other times, we may experience difficulty in making contact in an emergency, or we might even forget to try to contact Him through prayer at that time. But by regular daily prayer and meditation we do dwell in that secret place and then we may expect to abide under the shadow and to enjoy the protection of that power that is indeed all powerful, Almighty.
Here the Psalm changes from the third person “He” to the first person “I”. Now we are speaking to the I AM or God.
2. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust:
The very fact that you are praying, means that the action of God is taking place in your consciousness, and that it does have results. “In Him will I trust.” However worried or depressed, full of doubts or misgivings, still the very fact that you are praying means that you have faith.
The faith to go on praying in the midst of doubt about results is the tiny grain of mustard seed, Jesus says is sufficient for all purposes. “In Him will I trust,” is an expression of your determination to trust God in spite of what appears to be at the moment.
“The secret place of the most High.” It means you are trusting in God and you cease to worry or fear. This is the spiritual use of the will to say whether you will pray or not pray. Use will to say whether you will give way to fear; this means that though you feel in danger, you are choosing to exercise your power or will to pray and to put your trust in the love of God, instead of impending danger, sickness or fear.
3. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler: and from the noisome pestilence:
4. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth [shall be thy] shield and buckler:
The fowler and noisome pestilence are to be interpreted as meaning any kind of danger; moral, spiritual or material that might threaten your welfare. Yet in spite of whatever it may be, you are not to be afraid; for protection is now assured for you in those beautiful words just quoted. God does shield you from any condition. Remember – “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make your free.”
5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday:
These two verses and verse one are a superb analysis of the conscious and sub- consciousness mind. The arrow and the destruction that wasteth at noonday refer to the trouble you know of; whether it be a physical ailment, a business problem, trouble with another person or whatever. The point is you are aware of the difficulty, you are asking for help. It is a daytime problem to you. The terror by night and the pestilence imply something that is unknown to you or may be suspected by you, might be an impending accident or an enemy or hidden trouble. But whatever it may be, you have the promise that when you call upon Him in prayer, all these things are taken care of by Him.
7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; [but] it shall not come nigh thee: Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked:
This simply means that prayer does change things. That those who pray are saved from trouble they know of and that which they do not know about. “The wicked,” those who do not pray and so do not succeed in escaping from trouble.
9. Because thou hast made the LORD, [which is] my refuge, [even] the most High, thy habitation;
10. There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling:
This is a beautiful promise. This is one of the most definite promises. It says that once you have made divine Christ power your refuge by living in it regularly and knowing God’s love, because of your prayers, no trouble can touch you. Could anything be more convincingly said? By meditation regularly on the presence of God within you, and directing your life in accordance with your knowledge you are protected from any kind of danger.
11. For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways:
12. They shall bear thee up in [their] hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone:
This is another lovely promise. Read it again and again. Nothing could be more exquisite. “He shall give his angels charge over thee.” This is meant for you and me. Make this promise the subject of your thought every day for a month. Think about it. Realize it. Charge over thee. Think of this promise! “Charge over thee,” and your entire life will be changed. You will be uplifted. You are in charge of angels and will be safe – guarded in all ways, health, food, clothing, – all the necessities of life.
Kept from fear of all kind, danger of all kind, a wonderful promise. A thought to keep one smiling, happy, well, strong, vital, young, day in and day out, for the rest of your life.
13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet:
“The lion” stands for difficulty about which we know. For the lion is not a sneak; he rushes at you in the open. The snake is hidden. Yet in his promise God says he will tread upon the lion and adder and will trample upon the dragon or snake. Scientific prayer means the practice of the presence of God through prayer, by entering the secret place of the most High, which is within yourself will take care of all this; and God will give his protection, whatever the trouble, in the open or hidden, your prayer will suffice to give you protection.
The last three verses are ringing with joy and triumph. Even when used alone, they form a complete and wonderful treatment.
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:
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.
16. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation:
This is a definite statement that you are to be delivered from your difficulty and because you have set your love upon God; and He upon you, no harm of any kind can molest you. “I will deliver him.” Why? Because he has set his love upon me. Demonstrate and prove this in your life. Decline out of loyalty to God to accept anything less for yourself; then He will come to your aid. Thus we see that when we have through prayer attained a real appreciation of the allness of God, our trouble disappears. The last two verses gather up all the promises and implications and present them in a song of triumph. Promising us counsel and guidance in perplexity; salvation in trouble; and a long and joyous life.
“He shall call upon me and I will answer Him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver Him and honor Him: With long life will I satisfy Him, and show Him my salvation.” Glory to God in the highest. His promises are always sure. We will seek the “secret place of the most High” daily and thus abide under the shadow of the Almighty One, the one all-powerful who will meet our every need, our every prayer.