Why You Don’t Have to Be Afraid (Psalm 91:5-6)
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. —Psalm 91:5-6
You don’t have to be afraid. The scope of these verses intend to encompass the whole of your experience. Night or day, at any point throughout the week, or any season of life, you don’t have to be afraid. But why?
We understand Psalm 91:5–6 by looking at verse 4 before it: “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” God is a faithful refuge. He is trustworthy. He is righteousness. He always does what he says. But still, how is he trustworthy for you? How is his faithfulness of benefit for you today? and tomorrow? Yes, God is righteousness and he is committed to upholding the glory of his name and always doing what he says—but this would all be true even if you didn’t exist. Selah.
So how does God’s faithfulness apply to us? And therefore make it so we don’t have to be afraid?
Because Psalm 91:5–6 is not talking about you. (Here again is the counter-intuitive wonder of the Psalms: our lives are impacted most by realizing that the Psalms are not about us. They are about Jesus).
The you in “you will not fear” is Jesus. The psalmist is talking to him. This is the way the Gospel writers understood Psalm 91. When Satan quotes Psalm 91:11 in Matthew 4:6 he knew that this psalm was about the Messiah, the son of God. Satan’s logic went this way: Psalm 91 is about the Messiah, now if you are really the Messiah then Psalm 91 should apply to you. And it did, without any coercion to prove it.
The temptation was a moment of terror. Jesus was surrounded by the snare of the fowler (Psalm 91:3). The enemy was coming at him with guns blazing, trying to hinder his mission, hoping to ruin his faith. And the Father was his refuge. The Father’s faithfulness was like a shield. Jesus endured that temptation. He persevered in faithfulness. He did not fear. And in fact, as Mark tells us, he was ministered to by angels and was with the wild animals (fulfulling Psalm 91:11–13).
Precisely because Jesus didn’t have to be afraid, precisely because the Father is faithful to his Son, we don’t have to be afraid either, so long as we are in Christ. The work has been done. The life of fearless faith has been lived for us, perfectly. And when we embrace Jesus Christ, when we we trust him and are made new creatures in him, then all of his fearlessness is ours. All of the Father’s faithfulness to him—the shield and refuge—is ours.
You don’t have to be afraid.
What does it mean that God is faithful?
This psalm is about Jesus, how does this psalm apply to me?
What comforts of the gospel are found in Psalm 91?