How Psalm 91 Speaks to Your Coronavirus Fears
Our Safe Place
In whatever troubles we face today, God is the place of refuge we can run to, He is our safe place.
A reminder for us, especially in the tough stuff, that we never walk alone. Full heat of troubles bearing down hard, heavy, it’s a struggle at times to keep trudging through it all. Pressure and stress can seem as stifling as a hot afternoon summer sun. Yet God whispers truth, strong and sure, “Walk in my shadow, up close to my side. It’s in the safe place that brings confidence; for when we are resting in God’s shadow, we will never face the full heat of our difficulties. He shelters from that pain. His shade, His shadow, diminishes what is actually felt in the intensity of all the heat. Rest, peace, and calm rise up strong, right in the struggling mess of life, and we’re assured, He's in control.
Don’t ever doubt it. God works on behalf of those who love Him and honor His name. He is so good to us. We may never fully know, this side of heaven, how very much He has sheltered us from in this life.
Psalm 91 gives us a glimpse of the various sufferings we can expect:
“the fowler’s snare” (Psalm 91:3)
“deadly pestilence” (Psalm 91:3)
“the terror of night” (Psalm 91:5)
“the arrow that flies by day” (Psalm 91:5)
“the pestilence that stalks in the darkness” (Psalm 91:6)
“the plague that destroys at midday” (Psalm 91:6)
“a thousand may fall at your side” (v. 7)
That about covers it, don’t you think? Disease. Conflict. Terrorism. Unrelenting fear. Injustice. Death. At morning, midday, and night. Under the cover of darkness or in the bright light of day. Pain will come. Period.
It sounds morbid and overwhelming. And it is. Unless we find the one place of safety even a war can’t crush.
The psalmist knew this, which is why he doesn’t leave us in a pit of despair. Instead, he describes a refuge so secure we can rest in spite of the war.
Psalms 91:12 NKJV In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
Psalm 91 bursts with assurances about the protection of God—replete with words like shelter, refuge, fortress, shield, deliver, rescue, and satisfy. At this time of global pandemic with the novel coronavirus COVID-19, this Psalm speaks of God's power, presence, intentions, and protection against fear. Described as a covering for His people, God’s comfort is a wing of security amidst this world’s uncertainties and suffering. Psalm 91 was used by Satan to tempt Jesus in the desert.
Matthew 4:5-7 (NKJV)5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' "7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.' "
The Devil said that surely Jesus could place Himself in the way of harm in order to demonstrate the rescuing power of God. But Satan misused God’s Word, removing it from the context of the whole and unity of Scripture.
Learning from Jesus, then, we also must handle Scripture well in our times. That God is our refuge, comfort, and shade amidst pandemic does not mean that if we believe in Jesus Christ we have physical immunity to COVID-19.
However, verses in this Psalm do appear to promise present, bodily deliverance from pestilence. The word pestilence means any sudden fatal epidemic or pandemic, and in its Biblical use it generally indicates that these are divine visitations. The word is most frequently used in the prophetic books. Consider, for example, verses 3 and 6: “For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence” and “You will not fear . . . the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.” How do we faithfully interpret those statements?
What Is God’s Deliverance?
To apply this to deliverance in the COVID-19 pandemic, we can consider the following principles:
1. We know from the wider testimony of Scripture that God’s promised deliverance is spiritual in the present, while being spiritual and bodily in the age to come.
2. We know that in God’s common grace in this world and in His Fatherly love for believers, all bodily healing that does happen in this life is from His generous hand.
3. We know that God’s plans for this world are secure—His plans for Israel, as well as His plans for the Church and all believers.
God has promised the believer that He has prepared good works for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Coronavirus can come between us and His plans. For the believer, being able to glorify God with our lives is the ultimate hope and dream for this life. Being able to fulfill His will for us cannot be disrupted or cancelled.
Hear God’s message to you that your life is beneath the shelter and shadow of His wings. He is your life’s fortress, delivering you to spiritual strength now and certain bodily strength as well in eternity. This day, no arrows of evil or of disease can touch the meaning and purpose that God has from your life. Make the Lord your refuge, and nothing will be able to a ect or infect you that will diminish God’s purposes for you.
The psalm ends with what is referred to by commentators as a divine oracle. God is speaking to His people. And He promises that those who call upon Him will be answered; that those who hold fast to Him will be delivered; that those who trust Him for who He is will be protected.
How Can We 'Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty'? Jesus gives us words that are parallel in theme to Psalm 91.
Luke 21:10-17, 19 NIV Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. Stand firm, and you will win life.
Hearing them and receiving them into our spirits, we can receive the security that Psalm 91 promises to rest in our Almighty God.
We who believe are spiritually secure through Christ—never to face judgment. We are eternally secure—headed to the place of no su ering or pain. We are presently secure in purpose—no event of the world can surprise, overwhelm, or demote us from ful lling God’s good works for us here. And, by Jesus’ words, we are to consider ourselves miraculously secure when meeting the eruptive trials of this life.
God is our comfort. Psalm 91 describes Him as our shelter, shadow, refuge, fortress, refuge, shield, buckler, dwelling, rescuer, and protection.
1. Shelter (v. 1): God is our hiding place, covering us with His good purposes.
2. Shadow (v. 1): God is over and beyond us—seeing more than we see and knowing more than we know. We can rest in His shadow.
3. Refuge (v. 2): He is a safe place for us of security; we climb into Him.
4. Fortress (v. 2): He is our defense whose promises cannot be inhibited.
5. Shield (v. 4): Resting in our God de ects the enemies of fear and doubt in times of trial.
6. Buckler (or, shield that completely engulfs) (v. 4): He is a defense on every side. He knows every part of us and our lives—no aspect is beyond His reach.
7. Dwelling (v. 9): God’s protection is not eeting; His protection serves for our continual habitation.
8. Rescuer (v. 14): He leads us o with Him, drawing us to Himself and rescuing us from being overcome by the world.
9. Protection (v. 14): In His protection, He carries us to an elevated place—by trusting in Him, our minds and hearts become inaccessible to the churning fears below.
As believers, we have committed to Christ that our lives and times are in His hands; our dream is that our days might bring Him eternal glory. The reality of God’s comfort and power to deliver us to eternal life is what gives us the spiritual deliverance from being dominated by pandemic in these days. The promises of God – of life to come and of His divine purposes in this life – shade, shelter, and satisfy us. When fears of the coronavirus and its impacts surround us, how much ercer is the security of an in nite God!