Psalm 91:11
For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
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(11) Angels.—The idea of a special guardian angel for each individual has possibly been favoured by this verse, though it had its origin in heathen belief:

“By every man, as he is born, there stands

A spirit good, a holy guide of life.”


Here, however, it is not one particular individual, but all who have fulfilled the conditions of Psalm 91:9-10 who are the objects of angelic charge. (Comp. Psalm 34:7.) (For the well-known quotation of this and Psalm 91:12 in the Temptation, see Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10-11; with Notes in New Testament Commentary.)

91:9-16 Whatever happens, nothing shall hurt the believer; though trouble and affliction befal, it shall come, not for his hurt, but for good, though for the present it be not joyous but grievous. Those who rightly know God, will set their love upon him. They by prayer constantly call upon him. His promise is, that he will in due time deliver the believer out of trouble, and in the mean time be with him in trouble. The Lord will manage all his worldly concerns, and preserve his life on earth, so long as it shall be good for him. For encouragement in this he looks unto Jesus. He shall live long enough; till he has done the work he was sent into this world for, and is ready for heaven. Who would wish to live a day longer than God has some work to do, either by him or upon him? A man may die young, yet be satisfied with living. But a wicked man is not satisfied even with long life. At length the believer's conflict ends; he has done for ever with trouble, sin, and temptation.For he shall give his angels charge over thee - literally, "He will give 'command' to his angels." That is, he would instruct them, or appoint them for this purpose. This passage Psalm 91:11-12 was applied to the Saviour by the tempter. Matthew 4:6. See the notes at that passage. This, however, does not prove that it had an original reference to the Messiah, for even if we should suppose that Satan was a correct and reliable expounder of the Scriptures, all that the passage would prove as used by him would be, that the righteous, or those who were the friends of God, might rely confidently on his protection, and that Jesus, if he was of God, might do this as others might. On the sentiment in the passage, to wit, that God employs his angels to protect his people, see the notes at Psalm 34:7; compare the notes at Hebrews 1:14.

To keep thee in all thy ways - To preserve thee wheresoever thou goest.

9-12. This exemption from evil is the result of trust in God, who employs angels as ministering spirits (Heb 1:14).11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Psalm 91:11

"For he shall give his angels charge over thee." Not one guardian angel, as some fondly dream, but all the angels are here alluded to. They are the bodyguard of the princes of the blood imperial of heaven, and they have received commission from their Lord and ours to watch carefully over all the interests of the faithful. When men have a charge they become doubly careful, and therefore the angels are represented as bidden by God himself to see to it that the elect are secured. It is down in the marching orders of the hosts of heaven that they take special note of the people who dwell in God. It is not to be wondered at that the servants are bidden to be careful of the comfort of their Master's guests; and we may be quite sure that when they are specially charged by the Lord himself they will carefully discharge the duty imposed upon them. "To keep thee in all thy ways." To be a body-guard, a garrison to the body, soul, and spirit of the saint. The limit of this protection "in all thy ways" is yet no limit to the heart which is right with God. It is not the way of the believer to go out of his way. He keeps in the way, and then the angels keep him. The protection here promised is exceeding broad as to place, for it refers to all our ways, and what do we wish for more? How angels thus keep us we cannot tell. Whether they repel demons, counteract spiritual plots, or even ward off the subtler physical forces of disease, we do not know. Perhaps we shall one day stand amazed at the multiplied services which the unseen bands have rendered to us.

Psalm 91:12

"They," that is the angels, God's own angels, shall cheerfully become our servitors. "They shall bear thee up in their hands"; as nurses carry little children, with careful love, so shall those glorious spirits upbear each individual believer. "Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone;" even minor ills they ward off. It is most desirable that we should not stumble, but as the way is rough, it is most gracious on the Lord's part to send his servants to bear us up above the loose pebbles. If we cannot have the way smoothed it answers every purpose if we have angels to bear us up in their hands. Since the greatest ills may arise out of little accidents, it shews the wisdom of the Lord that from the smaller evils we are protected.

Psalm 91:13

"Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder." Over force and fraud shalt thou march victoriously; bold opponents and treacherous adversaries shall alike be trodden down. When our shoes are iron and brass, lions and adders are easily enough crushed beneath our heel. "The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet." The strongest foe in power, and the most mysterious in cunning, shall be conquered by the man of God. Not only from stones in the way, but from serpents also, shall we be safe. To men who dwell in God the most evil forces become harmless, they wear a charmed life, and defy the deadliest ills. Their feet come into contact with the worst of foes, even Satan himself nibbles at their heel, but in Christ Jesus they have the assured hope of bruising Satan under their feet shortly. The people of God are the real "George and the dragon," the true lion-kings and serpent-tamers. Their dominion over the powers of darkness makes them cry, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy word."

His angels; those blessed, and powerful, and watchful spirits whom God hath appointed to mind the affairs of this lower world, and to take care of the heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:14.

In all thy ways; in the whole course of thy life, and in all thy lawful undertakings. For he shall give his angels charge over thee,.... Created spirits, so called, made by the Lord, and are at his command; who are ministering spirits to his people, who encamp about them, and are concerned in the preservation of them; they being committed to their care and charge by him who is Lord of heaven and earth: Satan applied this passage to Christ, Matthew 4:6, nor did our Lord object to the application of it; and it can hardly be thought that he would have ventured to have done it, had he been aware that a misapplication might be objected; or that it was not the received sense of the place: what he is to be blamed for, in quoting it, was the wrong purpose for which he produced it, and for leaving out the next clause, which he saw was against his design;

to keep thee in all thy ways; in walking and travelling from place to place, as Providence calls and directs; and in all civil ways, in all lawful business and employment of life; in all spiritual ones, as the ways of God and religion: what Satan tempted Christ to was neither of these ways; it was not a natural way of going, nor the duty of his office, nor any of the ways of God.

{g} For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

(g) God has not appointed one angel to every man, but many to be ministers of his providence to keep and defend his in their calling, which is the way to walk in without tempting God.

11. Cp. Genesis 24:7; Genesis 24:40; Exodus 23:20 (“I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way”); Psalm 34:7. This verse and the next were quoted by the Tempter (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10-11). If the words are primarily addressed to Israel, there is a particular force in the citation. Israel was a type of Christ; had He not then the fullest right to claim for Himself the promises made to Israel?Verse 11. - For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (comp. Psalm 34:7). The faithful are under the constant care of angels (Hebrews 1:14), who guide them and direct them perpetually. Satan made a crafty use of this promise when he tempted our Lord (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10, 11). No doubt it applies to him pre-eminently, as the specially "Faithful One." יקושׁ, as in Proverbs 6:5; Jeremiah 5:26, is the dullest toned from for יקושׁ or יוקשׁ, Psalm 124:7. What is meant is death, or "he who has the power of death," Hebrews 2:14, cf. 2 Timothy 2:26. "The snare of the fowler" is a figure for the peril of one's life, Ecclesiastes 9:12. In connection with Psalm 91:4 we have to call to mind Deuteronomy 32:11 : God protects His own as an eagle with its large strong wing. אברה is nom. unitatis, a pinion, to אבר, Isaiah 40:31; and the Hiph. הסך, from סכך, with the dative of the object, like the Kal in Psalm 140:8, signifies to afford covering, protection. The ἅπαξ λεγ. סחרה, according to its stem-word, is that which encompasses anything round about, and here beside צנּה, a weapon of defence surrounding the body on all sides; therefore not corresponding to the Syriac sḥārtā', a stronghold (סהר, מסגּרת), but to Syriac sabrā', a shield. The Targum translates צנּה with תּריסא, θυρεός, and סחרה with עגילא, which points to the round parma. אמתּו is the truth of the divine promises. This is an impregnable defence (a) in war-times, Psalm 91:5, against nightly surprises, and in the battle by day; (b) in times of pestilence, Psalm 91:6, when the destroying angel, who passes through and destroys the people (Exodus 11:4), can do no harm to him who has taken refuge in God, either in the midnight or the noontide hours. The future יהלך is a more rhythmical and, in the signification to rage (as of disease) and to vanish away, a more usual form instead of ילך. The lxx, Aquila, and Symmachus erroneously associate the demon name שׁד with ישׁוּד. It is a metaplastic (as if formed from שׁוּד morf de) future for ישׁד, cf. Proverbs 29:6, ירוּן, and Isaiah 42:4, ירוּץ, frangetur. Psalm 91:7 a hypothetical protasis: si cadant; the preterite would signify cediderint, Ew. 357, b. With רק that which will solely and exclusively take place is introduced. Burk correctly renders: nullam cum peste rem habebis, nisi ut videas. Only a spectator shalt thou be, and that with thine own eyes, being they self inaccessible and left to survive, conscious that thou thyself art a living one in contrast with those who are dying. And thou shalt behold, like Israel on the night of the Passover, the just retribution to which the evil-doers fall a prey. שׁלּמה, recompense, retribution, is a hapaxlegomenon, cf. שׁלּמים, Isaiah 34:8. Ascribing the glory to God, the second voice confirms or ratifies these promises.
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