The Tricky Part of Psalm 91

How Caregivers Can Apply the Promises

trickyGetting to the Tricky Part of Psalm 91

In the final part of this series on Psalm 91 and the caregiver, we arrive at the tricky part of the psalm. Why do I call it tricky? Well, a simple perusal might cause someone to say, “Hey, I believe in God but bad stuff happens to me. How can I really believe in God?” It’s all about the context. The author of this psalm wrote it for a specific reason and to a specific audience (some scholars believe King David was the intended audience). Nevertheless, we can take the principles of the psalm and apply them to our own lives.

First, the Condition

Verse nine starts with a condition.

9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,

In other words, we have to do two things. We must claim God as our refuge and we must make the Most High our dwelling. But what exactly does that mean?

The first condition means that we have to acknowledge a higher power (and we won’t find it in ourselves or another person). We have to choose to let God do what he wants to provide refuge, or recourse for our difficulties, for us.
And once we make that choice, we have to continue to make the choice to let God handle things. If we don’t commit over and over again, then we fail to ‘make the Most High our dwelling.’

Next, the Promises

10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

Verse ten sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Harm will not overtake us—that’s another way of saying ‘overwhelm.’ So, harm might accost us, but when we take refuge in God and dwell in him, it won’t drown us.

I have a different take on disaster than some people might. The dictionary defines ‘disaster’ as “complete or terrible failure.” So even though bad things have happened to me and to the ones I love, I can say with assurance that God has kept disaster at bay.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

I love this part of the promise—God will surround us with the kind of protection that he knows we need the most. Back in David’s day, he had to worry about things like lions, cobras, and stubbing his sandaled feet on sharp rocks. Or maybe those three things represent petty annoyances, powerful people, and the devil.

At different times in our lives, any one of the three could overwhelm us—and God has instructed his angels to protect us from whatever will weaken our faith.

God has instructed his angels to protect us from whatever will weaken our #faith. Click To Tweet

More Conditions and Promises

trickyThe psalm ends with two more conditions—we must love the Lord, and we must acknowledge his name. If we do that, God will answer us when we call on him, he will walk with us through trouble, and he’ll deliver us in an honorable way. In addition, he’ll satisfy us with a long life—because salvation means no matter how soon we leave our mortal bodies, we’ll still have heaven.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

I guess there’s nothing really tricky about the Bible. But we do need to study it, the context in which it was written, and ask the Holy Spirit to help us apply the principles to our lives today.

Takeaways for Caregivers:

1. We have to do four things: claim God as our refuge, dwell in him, love God, and acknowledge his name.
2. God desires for us to trust him and let him work out our problems (what a relief!).
3. Worry and stress can take years off your life. Let God handle the seemingly insurmountable problems.

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • On a cd that I listen to from time to time, Elisabeth Elliot talks about the trouble she had explaining this psalm to her young daughter who asked about the death of her father — from a spear thrown at him by people with whom he came to share the Truth. The ways of God are mysterious, but He is sovereign and He is good.

    • And that story (of Elisabeth Elliot’s) is still impacting lives today! We just don’t understand the bigger picture. But I’m ok with that.

  • Alice

    Wow Anita, thanks for breaking down this scripture! So true that we need to be mindful of the context. If we let Him be Lord over everything in our lives, how immeasurable promises He has for us! Enjoyed the post.

    • Thank you, Alice!

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  • I love how you break this down, Anita. Sometimes this psalm, while comforting, can also be so confusing. But this helps!
    So true: “God desires for us to trust him and let him work out our problems (what a relief!).”

    • There’s a lot of stuff I won’t understand until I get to sit at Jesus’ feet–until then, I practice trust!

  • Love how you’ve gone through this psalm, Anita. The takeaway is to trust God no matter what, because He can take care of us and our overwhelm. Blessings to you!

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  • I love how you set this in context. This reminds me of what Jesus said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:31-32a). Rough spots were coming, but He was there to aid.

    • Oh, Amen, Barbara! God will BE WITH US in all of the junk we have to go through!

  • Susan

    I love, simply love, Psalm 91.

    • I love it too! Especially now that I’ve really studied it ;).

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser
  • I love Psalm 91! It has been one of my favourite chapters for a long time and I like how you break it down and explore it. It is important to realise that it is not saying bad things will never happen, but it is comforting and reassuring to remember that God is with us even in the difficult times and that the ultimate victory is his.

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  • Such good reminders about our need to really make God our refuge.

  • What a great statement, “God has instructed his angels to protect us from whatever will weaken our faith.” Thanks for opening up this psalm for us and for hosting.

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  • God wants us to trust him with it. P91. Thank you so much, Anita!