Psalm 91 is one of the most beloved Psalms. I have it mostly memorized, but I get the order of the sections mixed up sometimes. So sometimes, if I wake up in the middle of the night and am having a hard time going back to sleep, I start reciting it. And when I realize I’ve missed a section, I go back trying to figure out where the missing section belonged… and I fall asleep in the process. (Sometimes. Insomnia is an issue I’m dealing with right now.)
Anyway… that’s what I was doing very early this morning when I “discovered” two nuggets I’ve somehow missed all the other hundreds or thousands of times I’ve read or recited this Psalm. Isn’t it amazing how the discoveries NEVER end?
Up toward the beginning of Psalm 91 is this statement:
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
We all know a shield is carried to protect you. The Hebrew word for “bulwark” is used only here in the entire Bible and it’s translated different ways, but it’s referring to walls like these. Walls strong enough to protect you, your home, your family… anything, actually, that we choose to bring or grow or operate inside those walls. Walls like these:
So what again do these walls symbolize?
His faithfulness. BlueLetterBible.com says the word means truth. Sureness. Reliability. Stability.
That is what our defensive walls are made of. Not our own efforts or our own goodness or our own faithfulness. Our protection comes from the stability of the Ancient of Days who is the Beginning and the End.
Ephesians says that our shield is “the shield of faith.” To me, the connection between these two verses is quite simple.
If an earthly enemy was attacking and someone offered you the protection of those walls above, would you run inside that fortress? Of course!
But what if you were blind? What if you could not see those walls — you just had to take someone’s word for it that they were there.
What if you couldn’t even feel them? In the case of Bamburgh’s walls as shown above, even feeling them isn’t always an option. You’d have to scale a cliff to touch the walls on the seaward side! You can’t even feel them when you’re inside them, cause there’s just slope of stone.
Would you still go inside the walls?
You would go inside the walls only if you believed what you’d been told about the height and breadth and size of them. Faith.
And so it is with God’s faithfulness. It will only protect us if we take refuge behind it and rely on it. If we trust that it’s there and true. If our faith in His faithfulness is stronger than our faith in whatever negative outlook is looming.
So who is really invited inside this fortress? Look to how this glorious Psalm ends:
14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”
Did you catch the beginning?
He said, “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver Him.”
God didn’t say, “Because he repents of all his sin and tries as hard as he can and reads his Bible every day, I will deliver him.”
He didn’t say, “Because she is a marvelous wife and mother, I will deliver her.”
We wouldn’t need delivered or need to see His salvation if we had it all together, would we?
No… the whole Psalm is about the strength and power and protection offered by this fortress that is Him, and it ends with Him saying that He will deliver me solely because I love Him.