|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
91:1-8 He that by faith chooses God for his protector, shall find all in him that he needs or can desire. And those who have found the comfort of making the Lord their refuge, cannot but desire that others may do so. The spiritual life is protected by Divine grace from the temptations of Satan, which are as the snares of the fowler, and from the contagion of sin, which is a noisome pestilence. Great security is promised to believers in the midst of danger. Wisdom shall keep them from being afraid without cause, and faith shall keep them from being unduly afraid. Whatever is done, our heavenly Father's will is done; and we have no reason to fear. God's people shall see, not only God's promises fulfilled, but his threatenings. Then let sinners come unto the Lord upon his mercy-seat, through the Redeemer's name; and encourage others to trust in him also.
Verse 3. - Surely he shall deliver thee. The second speaker takes up the word, and naturally changes the person. Addressing the first speaker, he says - Yes, assuredly, God shall deliver thee from whatever dangers beset thee: as, first, from the snare of the fowler (comp. Psalm 124:7; Proverbs 6:5); and, secondly, from the noisome pestilence (comp. ver. 6), i.e. from all dangers whatsoever - not more from these than from others.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,.... These are the words of the psalmist, either speaking to himself, for the encouragement of his own faith and trust in the Lord; or to the man that dwells in the secret place, and under the shadow of the most High; which latter seems most agreeable; though Cocceius thinks they are the words of God in one of his Persons, speaking of another divine Person that should deliver such that trust in him: the Targum makes them to be the words of David to Solomon his son. By the "fowler" and his "snare" may be meant either Saul, who laid wait for David, spread snares for him, and hunted him as a partridge on the mountains, from whom he was delivered; or rather any tyrannical enemy and persecutor of the saints, who lay snares for them; and these are broken by the Lord, and so they escape, as a bird out of the hands of the fowler, Psalm 124:6 or it may, best of all, be understood of Satan and his temptations, which are as snares that he lays to catch the people of God in, and from which they are delivered by the power and grace of God; see 1 Timothy 3:7.
and from the noisome pestilence; the most pernicious and destructive one; which may be literally understood of any pestilential distemper; from which the Lord, by his powerful providence, sometimes protects his people, when in danger of it: or, spiritually, of the pestilential disease of sin, that noisome and deadly one, the plague of the heart, which is the worst of all plagues; and from the ruinous and destructive effects and consequences of which the Lord saves his saints.
The Treasury of David
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
"Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler." Assuredly no subtle plot shall succeed against one who has the eyes of God watching for his defence. We are foolish and weak as poor little birds, and are very apt to be lured to our destruction by cunning foes, but if we dwell near to God, he will see to it that the most skilful deceiver shall not entrap us.
"Satan the fowler who betrays
Unguarded souls a thousand ways,"
shall be foiled in the case of the man whose high and honourable condition consists in residence within the holy place of the Most High. "And from the noisome pestilence." He who is a Spirit can protect us from evil spirits, he who is mysterious can rescue us from mysterious dangers, he who is immortal can redeem us from mortal sickness. There is a deadly pestilence of error, we are safe from that if we dwell in communion with the God of truth; there is a fatal pestilence of sin, we shall not be infected by it if we abide with the thrice Holy One; there is also a pestilence of disease, and even from that calamity our faith shall win immunity if it be of that high order which abides in God, walks on in calm serenity, and ventures all things for duty's sake. Faith by cheering the heart keeps it free from the fear which, in times of pestilence, kills more than the plague itself. It will not in all cases ward off disease and death, but where the man is such as Psalm 91:1 describes, it will assuredly render him immortal where others die; if all the saints are not so sheltered it is because they have not all such a close abiding with God, and consequently not such confidence in the promise. Such special faith is not given to all, for there are diversities in the measure of faith. It is not of all believers that the Psalmist sings, but only of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High. Too many among us are weak in faith, and in fact place more reliance in a phial or a globule than in the Lord and giver of life, and if we die of pestilence as others die it is because we acted like others, and did not in patience possess our souls. The great mercy is that in such a case our deaths are blessed, and it is well with us, for we are for ever with the Lord. Pestilence to the saints shall not be noisome but the messenger of heaven.
"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust." A wonderful expression! Had it been invented by an uninspired man it would have verged upon blasphemy, for who should dare to apply such words to the Infinite Jehovah? But as he himself authorised yea, dictated the language, we have here a transcendent condescension, such as it becomes us to admire and adore. Doth the Lord speak of his feathers, as though he likened himself to a bird? Who will not see herein a matchless love, a divine tenderness, which should both woo and win our confidence? Even as a hen covereth her chickens so doth the Lord protect the souls which dwell in him; let us cower down beneath him for comfort and for safety. Hawks in the sky and snares in the field are equally harmless when we nestle so near the Lord. "His truth" - his true promise, and his faithfulness to his promise "shall be thy shield and buckler." Double armour has he who relies upon the Lord. He bears a shield and wears an all-surrounding coat of mail - such is the force of the word "buckler." To quench fiery darts the truth is a most effectual shield, and to blunt all swords it is an equally effectual coat of mail. Let us go forth to battle thus harnessed for the war, and we shall be safe in the thickest of the fight. It has been so, and so shall it be till we reach the land of peace, and there among the "helmed cherubim and sworded seraphim," we will wear no other ornament, his truth shall still be our shield and buckler.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. snares … [and] … noisome pestilence—literally, "plagues of mischiefs" (Ps 5:9; 52:7), are expressive figures for various evils.
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