Protected in Peril (Psalm 91:3-4)
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. ⁴He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. –Psalm 91:3-4
One of the great joys in parenting is sharing the childhood books and stories that captivated our imaginations with our own children. Recently, I've introduced our 8-year-old to the realm of Middle Earth and the adventures of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. As we’ve read and listened to Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, I'm reminded that the Christian life often resembles Frodo's dangerous journey to Mordor.
The author of Psalm 91 understood well the perils surrounding the believer in his journey with God. When we encounter the inevitable trials in this life–from loss of jobs, to loss of friends, or the loss of a loved one–the enemy will tempt us to respond in sinful ways that would ensnare us: fear instead of faith, bitterness instead of hope, anger instead of peace. Only the Lord can provide the escape and shelter we desperately need in these moments. Life with Christ is not free of troubles or tragedies, but we are not alone in them. Remembering this truth and recalling the faithfulness of God in the midst of our painful and perilous journey is what gives us confidence and hope. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego discovered, their deliverer and Savior did not spare them from the flames, but rather He stepped into the fire with them (Daniel 3).
Psalm 91:3-4 provides us with images that should bring hope and comfort, even as we know it does not promise exemption from trials and troubles. Verse 3 pictures the follower of God as a helpless bird that is rescued from the hunter’s snare. In contrast, verse 4 pictures the Lord as a mighty and protective bird that brings cover and shelter to those who take refuge in Him. As a mother hen's wings are a sanctuary to her chicks, so the Lord covers and shields His children amidst the perils and attacks in this life.
The psalmist also declares God's victory and protection from the "deadly pestilence" of disease and plague that the enemy would use to destroy God's people. Against even these natural disasters, the psalmist lays hold of the truth that God will provide our ultimate salvation. Though the dangers are real and present, ultimately they are not our end when we are resting in the "God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Verse 4 concludes with the image of God's faithfulness as a shield against the attacks we face. His faithfulness covers us as a buckler–a full-body armor like the chainmail of an ancient soldier. This is a picture of hope that the Lord covers us and is on our side, even when we are under attack (Psalm 124). The Apostle Paul urges believers not to lose heart in the battles and suffering of this life, for they are indeed “a light and momentary affliction” in light of the incomparable eternal glory we will share with Jesus our Savior (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Like Frodo taking his unexpected journey to Mount Doom–encountering loss, hardship, turmoil, and attacks along the way–we are sojourners through this fallen world, a world riddled with sin, destruction, evil, and death. May we, like the psalmist, find our comfort and hope in knowing that each perilous step is not our end. We are never alone as we journey in the refuge and shelter of Jesus Christ, our faithful Savior and eternal hope.
What is your response when you face trials and troubles? Do you actively look for the Lord's work in those times?
The psalmist grounds his hope in God's faithfulness. How have you seen God's faithfulness, even in difficulties?
Pray and ask the Lord today to deepen your faith and to use the trials ahead to form you and shape you into the image of Christ.
Daniel Bond resides in the Cleveland, Ohio area with his wife Jenny and their two children, Asher and Gracie. He is a graduate of Denver Seminary and LeTourneau University. Since 2005, he has served in vocational ministry and is now the principal at a classical Christian school. Scripture memory has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember and he is committed to passing that on to his own children, as well as the students in his school.