The book of Psalms, the songbook of God’s people, has been called an anatomy of all parts of the soul. This study will make your heart sing as you explore the different genres of Psalms. Each lesson’s commentary and interpretation will help you articulate the many emotional ups and downs of living as a human in a broken world. The observation and application questions will enable you to engage with these songs that Jesus sang at a heart level.
Psalms is a 13 week study which includes an introductory chapter and 12 individual psalms.
Study 8: Psalm 91
Read Psalm 91
1. List the action words that describe what the Lord will do for the psalmist.
2. List the specific things the Lord will deliver the psalmist from.
3. In verses 14-16, the speaker changes from the psalmist to the Lord speaking. Rewrite those verses in your own words.
Psalm 91 can be categorized as a song of confidence, which allows God’s people to express their trust in him even in dark and difficult circumstances. It is also a wisdom psalm. The author is unknown, though some have suggested Moses. We know neither the context nor the occasion for the writing, but we can be encouraged by its application to the life of anyone who belongs to the Lord.
Psalm 91 walks us through all manner of danger, assuring us that God is in control of every circumstance and that he uses even pain for our good. The instability of this world is real and engenders massive fear in us. But as Sinclair Ferguson has preached, “There is a fear that can deliver us from all other fears–the fear of the Lord.” Ferguson goes on to say that the fear of the Lord acts like a medicine, per
Before teaching us about what we should believe, the psalmist speaks of his own experience with God. He has made his home under the covering of El Shaddai. The Lord has been his haven and hiding place, his sanctuary and escape. And he will persuade us that the Almighty can be those things to us as well.
Verse 3 shifts
The psalmist goes on to the next set of dangers. For those who struggle with anxiety, common fears of the day can magnify into huge, terrifying monsters at night. We have no control over
But wait a minute, you may be thinking. Evil does come to us in many forms. Friends die, parents get cancer, spouses have affairs. Is the psalmist lying to us? The next verses invite us to take a step back and see that while evil persists, it is only a tool in the hand of the one who both began and will finish a good work in us.
The key phrase in verse 10 is “shall be allowed.” Events in our universe, including even our everyday circumstances, are not haphazard or purposeless. Evil and suffering that come into our lives have been allowed by our Father to discipline and train us, to deepen our joy and our intimacy with him. He is not surprised by the terrible phone call or the doctor’s bad report. All
Believe it or not, one of the jobs of the angels is to protect the children of God. Matthew 18:10 and Hebrews 1:14 both tell us that these heavenly beings are sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. We may never know the number of times we have been saved from tragedy by one of these mighty spiritual beings. Even the lion and the snake, symbolic of the most physically dangerous creatures, cannot harm us unless God allows it. And therein lies the key. God does allow suffering, but it is suffering
Consider the ultimate sufferer, Jesus. When tempting him in the wilderness, Satan tried to twist verses 11-12 of this psalm to cause Jesus to act presumptuously by testing God. But Jesus understood that his Father’s love for him would not preclude his pain but would employ it for good. And in fact, God did not send his angels to spare Jesus from the cross. Instead, as Ligon Duncan points out, “He sent those angels to minister to him in the garden to prepare him for the cross.” God himself suffered, that we might not be alone in our suffering. And not only that, he utilizes our suffering for our own benefit. Romans 8:28, which tells us that for those who love God all things work together for good, is ultimately true. We do not know the timing, and we may not see the redemption of our suffering until the new heaven and the new earth, but we have been promised that we will see it.
But why? Why would the creator give such amazing, individualized attention to me, one small life among billions? Because I was good? Because I successfully controlled my anxiety? Because my faith was strong and I read, taught, or sang his Word? No, the Lord himself answers in verse 14, as the voice of the psalm changes once more: “It is only because he clings to me, knows me, and depends on me.” The Hebrew verb here is
What will this deliverance look like? Like an ear that listens for his child’s voice in the midst of the crowd. Like answers in the form of practical help. Like immediate or eventual rescue. It will look like God’s presence, like him being next to his children when they are stressed, scared, or otherwise in trouble. It means that whatever suffering is allowed into their lives, God will walk through it with them. And in the
4. Psalm 91 is a song of confidence and a wisdom psalm. Define confidence and wisdom and write why you think this psalm fits into these two categories.
5. The psalmist transitions from telling the ways the Lord has been his hiding place to speaking to us as to how the Lord will be our refuge in each of our individual lives. Of the long list of
6. Suffering will come, in all kinds of forms, leaving its mark, and yet God promises not to waste it, to remain present and engaged with us in it, and to transform us through it. Is this comforting to you? Why or why not?
7. It’s remarkable to think that Satan used this psalm, the Word of God, to lie and try and tempt Jesus in the wilderness. In what ways currently is Satan using lies or misrepresenting the Word of God to you? What effect is it having on your life?
8. This deep, intimate knowing of the Lord, or
Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. Psalm 91:14
Reflections, curiosities, frustrations: