Psalm 91: The guard that is dispatched along the Way

I spent much of last year slowly going through Psalm 91, talking with the Holy Spirit about every word and every line. In January of this year, the Lord led me to start sharing it here, so if you’re just now joining me, I encourage you to go to the beginning of my study, because the first verse is pivotal!

I took several weeks off from blogging as the Lord led me through some things. But now it is time to continue!  This is my 8th post, and I’m up to verse 11:

For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways


I sought the Holy Spirit again this week about this verse because I wanted more than I’d received last year. He showed me how this verse ties into multiple other verses. 

He will give His angels charge concerning you…

This first line is just two words in the Hebrew, but it takes a lot of English words to convey the same meaning. The word “angels” here is the one for “messengers.” We see in many places in the Bible where angels were dispatched to bring a message to Abraham, Lot, Daniel, Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and others. But in this case, it’s saying that God will send these messengers with a mission. We can compare this mission almost to that of a babysitter or a bodyguard. I know those two job descriptions portray vastly different connotations in our American mindset. Most of us would consider it an insult to be told me we need a babysitter, and we’d consider it an honor to be given a bodyguard.  And yet, the meaning behind the word “charge” conveys both. God is basically saying to these messengers, “This child of Mine is your responsibility. I am appointing him/her to your care.”
That “responsibility” is not at all taking away our own responsibility for ourselves, as we’ll see in the next line though!  This is where the richness of meaning in this verse comes in. 

…To guard you in all your ways…

At first glance, it might be easy to read this line and think it’s an easy way out. “Oh look! I don’t need to be careful! God says His angels are going to guard me and make sure nothing bad will happen to me!” Indeed, I think the devil tries to get us to think it means this, because then, when bad things happen, he’s got ammunition to use as he tries to make God out to be a liar. So let’s look more carefully at this second line. 

…to guard you…

This word does indeed reinforce the babysitter/bodyguard definitions from the first line. It means to watch, keep, and preserve. I think it’s important to think about the “watch” meaning in the word. A babysitter and bodyguard watches their charge to protect them against themself just as much as they watch to protect their charge from outside attackers.  Again, though, this is leading up to an important truth. 

…in all…

All really is all. Sort of. Because this isn’t the end of the sentence!  

…your ways.

And here we get to the important part! When I got to this phrase, I asked the Holy Spirit to tell me more. Because these words do not just say, “… to protect you in everything” or “…to guard you no matter what you do.” The words specifically say that they will guard us in all of our ways.  
So I looked up the word “ways.” It is specifically referring to our journey. Consider the old parable of Pilgrim’s Progress. For those who may not know if it, Pilgrim’s Progress is a story that is a long metaphor for our spiritual walk. Pilgrim (the main character) embarks on his journey at the beginning of the book, which symbolizes when he accepts salvation through Jesus. The whole book is his journey until he reaches heaven at the end of his journey. 
This word for “ways” is used over 600 times in the Bible, and I think that if I share some of them, the Holy Spirit may show you the same thing He showed me. 
Genesis 18:19 – “For I have chosen him [Abraham], so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”
Exodus 18:20 – “Teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do.”
Exodus 23:20 – “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.”
Exodus 32:8 – “They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf.”
Exodus 33:8 – Moses prayed, “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight.”
Deuteronomy 30:16 – “I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.”
Joshua 22:5 – Joshua said, “Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Judges 2:19 – “But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways.”
Judges 18:6 – “The priest said to them, “Go in peace; your way in which you are going has the LORD’S approval.”
1 Samuel 8:3 – “His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.”
1 Samuel 18:14 – “David was prospering in all his ways for the LORD was with him.”
1 Kings 2:3 – David commanded Solomon,  “Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn.”
Numerous verses about various kings – “He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father and in his sin which he made Israel sin.”
Psalm 1:6 – “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.”
Psalm 32:8 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”
Psalm 37:5 – “Commit your way to the LORD,  Trust also in Him, and He will do it.”
Psalm 39:1 – “I said, “I will guard my ways, That I may not sin with my tongue.'”
Psalm 18:13 – “Oh that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!”
Psalm 86:11 – “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.”
Do you see it? 
There are many more, but this sampling shows very clearly that we cannot take this verse out of the context of the rest of the Bible. God talked many times about how some people choose evil ways, while the righteous choose His ways. The Bible both speaks and demonstrates repeatedly the destruction that comes upon those who do not follow the ways of God. The book of Judges demonstrates over and over and over again the contrast between what happens when we choose God’s ways and when we turn against God’s ways. And notice that the opposite of “evil ways” is not “good ways.”  God never said to choose the “good way.” He said to choose His ways!
So let’s go back to this verse. 
Psalm 91:11 – “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.”
This whole Psalm is about the one who chooses to dwell in the shelter of God.  Thus, this verse is describing the charge that God gives to His messengers when we walk in His ways.  
Oh how wonderful that He is willing to teach us His ways, so that we may rest, knowing that He has charged angels to accompany us in His ways! 
“Make me know Your ways, O LORD, 
Teach me Your paths.”
– Psalm 25:4

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