Psalm 91:1
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
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(1, 2) He . . . I.—The especial difficulty of this psalm, its abrupt changes of person, meets us at the outset. The text literally rendered, runs: “He sitting in the hiding place of the Most High; In the shadow of the Almighty he lodgeth, I say to Jehovah, My refuge and my fortress, My God, I trust in Him. The change in the last clause presents no particular difficulty, as many similar instances occur; but that from the third person, in the first verse, to the first, in the second, is very awkward, and many shifts have been adopted to get out of it. The best is to supply the word blessed: “Blessed is he that,” &c[16] The different names for God employed here should be noticed. By their accumulation the poet makes the sum of assurance doubly sure.

[16] The omission of this word by a copyist would be very natural, from its confusion with the numerical heading of the psalm and the initial letter of the word that now begins it.

Psalm 91:1. He that dwelleth in the secret place, &c. — He that makes God his habitation and refuge, as he is called Psalm 91:9, that has recourse to him, and relies on him in his dangers and difficulties; that has access to him, intercourse with him, and worships within the veil, living a life of constant communion with him; shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty — He shall not be disappointed of his hope, but shall find a quiet and safe resting- place under the divine care. A shadow, in Scripture, often signifies protection. But there evidently seems to be an allusion to the most holy place in the tabernacle and temple, and to the outstretched wings of the cherubim covering the ark and mercy-seat: see notes on Psalm 27:5; Psalm 32:7. And it is as if the psalmist had said, He shall dwell like the ark in the holy of holies, under the immediate shadow and protection of the Divine Majesty. It is justly observed here by Dr. Horne, that “in all dangers, whether spiritual or corporal, the members of Christ’s mystical body may reflect, with comfort, that they are under the same almighty Protector.”

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.He that dwelleth - Everyone that so dwells. The proposition is universal, and is designed to embrace all who are in this condition. It is true of one; it is true of all. The word rendered "dwelleth" here is a participle from the verb to "sit," and here means "sitting:" literally, "sitting in the secret place," etc. The idea is that of calm repose; of resting; of sitting down - as one does in his dwelling.

In the secret place - On the meaning of this see the notes at Psalm 27:5. Compare Psalm 31:20; Psalm 32:7. Abiding where God abides. The idea is that of having one's home or residence in the most holy place in the tabernacle or the temple, and of sitting with him in that sacred place.

Of the Most High - Of God, represented as exalted above all; over all the universe.

Shall abide - Margin, as in Hebrew, "lodge." That is his home - his resting place - where he lodges, or passes the night. He takes up his lodging there; he makes it his home.

Under the shadow of the Almighty - Under his protection, as if under his wings. Compare the notes at Psalm 17:8. This is a general statement, and is designed as an introduction to the whole psalm, or as expressing what the psalm is intended to illustrate, "the blessedness" of the man who thus dwells with God; who makes him his friend; who makes the home of God his home.


Ps 91:1-16. David is the most probable author; and the pestilence, mentioned in 2Sa 24:13-15, the most probable of any special occasion to which the Psalm may refer. The changes of person allowable in poetry are here frequently made.

1. dwelleth in the secret place—(Ps 27:5; 31:20) denotes nearness to God. Such as do so abide or lodge secure from assaults, and can well use the terms of trust in Ps 91:2.

1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will Itrust.

Psalm 91:1

"He that dwelleth, in the secret place of the most High." The blessings here promised are not for all believers, but for those who live in close fellowship with God. Every child of God looks towards the inner sanctuary and the mercy-seat, yet all do not dwell in the most holy place; they run to it at times, and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in the mysterious presence. Those who through rich grace obtain unusual and continuous communion with God, so as to abide in Christ and Christ in them, become possessors of rare and special benefits, which are missed by those who follow afar off, and grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Into the secret place those only come who know the love of God in Christ Jesus, and those only dwell there to whom to live is Christ. To them the veil is rent, the mercy-seat is revealed, the covering cherubs are manifest, and the awful glory of the Most High is apparent: these, like Simeon, have the Holy Ghost upon them, and like Anna they depart not from the temple; they are the courtiers of the Great King, the valiant men who keep watch around the bed of Solomon, the virgin souls who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. Elect out of the elect, they have "attained unto the first three," and shall walk with their Lord in white, for they are worthy. Sitting down in the august presence-chamber where shines the mystic light of the Sheckinah, they know what it is to be raised up together, and to be made to sit together with Christ in the heavenlies, and of them it is truly said that their conversation is in heaven. Special grace like theirs brings with it special immunity. Outer court worshippers little know what belongs to the inner sanctuary, or surely they would press on until the place of nearness and divine familiarity became theirs. Those who are the Lord's constant guests shall find that he will never suffer any to be injured within his gates; he has eaten the covenant salt with them, and is pledged for their protection.

"Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." The Omnipotent Lord will shield all those who dwell with him, they shall remain under his care as guests under the protection of their host. In the most holy place the wings of the cherubim were the most conspicuous objects, and they probably suggested to the Psalmist the expression here employed. Those who commune with God are safe with him, no evil can reach them, for the outstretched wings of his power and love cover them from all harm. This protection is constant - they abide under it, and it is all-sufficient, for it is the shadow of the Almighty, whose omnipotence will surely screen them from all attack. No shelter can be imagined at all comparable to the protection of Jehovah's own shadow. The Almighty himself is where his shadow is, and hence those who dwell in his secret place are shielded by himself. What a shade in the day of noxious heat! What a refuge in the hour of deadly storm! Communion with God is safety. The more closely we cling to our Almighty Father the more confident may we be.

Psalm 91:2

"I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress." To take up a general truth and make it our own by personal faith is the highest wisdom. It is but poor comfort to say 'the Lord is a refuge,' but to say he is my refuge, is the essence of consolation. Those who believe should also speak - "I will say," for such bold avowals honour God and lead others to seek the same confidence. Men are apt enough to proclaim their doubts, and even to boast of them, indeed there is a party nowadays of the most audacious pretenders to culture and thought, who glory in casting suspicion upon everything; hence it becomes the duty of all true believers to speak out and testify with calm courage to their own well-grounded reliance upon their God. Let others say what they will, be it ours to say of the Lord, "he is our refuge." But what we say we must prove by our actions, we must fly to the Lord for shelter, and not to an arm of flesh. The bird flies away to the thicket, and the fox hastens to its hole, every creature uses its refuge in the hour of danger, and even so in all peril or fear of peril let us flee unto Jehovah, the Eternal Protector of his own. Let us, when we are secure in the Lord, rejoice that our position is unassailable, for he is our fortress as well as our refuge. No moat, portcullis, drawbridge, wall, battlement and donjon, could make us so secure as we are when the attributes of the Lord of Hosts environ us around. Behold this day the Lord is to us instead of walls and bulwarks! Our ramparts defy the leaguered hosts of hell. Foes in flesh, and foes in ghostly guise are alike baulked of their prey when the Lord of Hosts stands between us and their fury, and all other evil forces are turned aside. Walls cannot keep out the pestilence, but the Lord can.

As if it were not enough to call the Lord his refuge and fortress, he adds, "My God I in him will I trust." Now he can say no more; "my God" means all, and more than all, that heart can conceive by way of security. It was most meet that he should say "in him will I trust," since to deny faith to such a one were wilful wickedness and wanton insult. He who dwells in an impregnable fortress, naturally trusts in it; and shall not he who dwells in God feel himself well at ease, and repose his soul in safety? O that we more fully carried out the Psalmist's resolve! We have trusted in God let us trust him still. He has never failed us, why then should we suspect him? To trust in man is natural to fallen nature, to trust in God should be as natural to regenerated nature. Where there is every reason and warrant for faith, we ought to place our confidence without hesitancy or wavering. Dear reader, pray for grace to say, "In him will I trust." THE ARGUMENT.

The penman of this Psalm is uncertain. The occasion of it seems to have been that great pestilence recorded 2 Samuel 24

The psalmist representeth the state of the godly, Psalm 91:1,2. Their safety, and place of habitation, Psalm 91:3-10. Comfortable promises of God’s preserving them, Psalm 91:11, of his support and salvation, Psalm 91:12-16.

The secret place; or, hiding-place. He that makes God his habitation and refuge, as he is called below, Psalm 91:9, resorting to him, and relying upon him in his dangers and difficulties, shall not be disappointed of his hope, but shall find a quiet and safe repose under the Divine protection. A

shadow in Scripture phrase commonly signifies protection. See Genesis 19:8 Judges 9:15 Psalm 17:8, &c.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High,.... Or the Supreme; a title of God, who is superior to all beings, the Creator and Preserver of them, God over all, higher than the highest of angels or men; see Genesis 14:22, "his secret place" is his heart, his bosom, where his only begotten Son lies; and into which he takes his people, where they are set as a seal, and who enjoy intimate communion with him; which is no other than his gracious presence, called "the secret of his presence", Psalm 31:20, which none but saints are admitted to, when his everlasting love, which was a secret in his heart, is made known unto them, and in which they also dwell, 1 John 4:16, as they likewise do in the eternal decree of election; which perhaps is meant by "the clefts of the rock, and secret places of the stairs", where the church is said to dwell, Sol 2:14, unless rather Christ the Rock, and who may be signified by the cleft of that Moses was put into, when the goodness of the Lord passed before him, is intended; and who is the hiding place from the wind: mention is made of "the secret" of God's "tabernacle", Psalm 27:5, in which he hides his people; alluding to the tabernacle, or temple, and the most holy place in it, called his secret place, Ezekiel 7:22, and may refer to the ministry of the word and ordinances, where saints dwell, and enjoy much communion with God; and who are particularly under his special providence, protection, and power; which may here be designed:

shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty: who is able to do all things for his people, and is "Shaddai", all sufficient, as this word is thought to signify; has a sufficiency of happiness in and for himself, and of provisions for all his creatures, and of power and grace for his own children: his "shadow" may be the same with his secret place, his power and protection, often in this book of Psalms called "the shadow of his wings", Psalm 17:8, in allusion to birds that overshadow and protect their young with their wings; though perhaps the allusion here may be to the shadow of a tree, and design the word and ordinances of the Lord's house, which are a delightful, refreshing, reviving, and fruitful shadow, Sol 2:3, where gracious souls dwell, and abide with great delight and pleasure. Christ, the Son of God, is sometimes compared to the shadow of a rock, or tree, which screens and shelters from heat; as he preserves his people from the heat of a fiery law, the flaming sword of justice, the wrath of God, the fiery darts of Satan, and the fury of persecutors: under this shadow do they abide or lodge all night, safe and secure, as the word (o) signifies: the Targum calls this shadow the shadow of the clouds of glory; the Arabic version, "the shadow of the God of heaven."

(m) So in Tikkune Zohar, correct. 20. fol. 50. 1.((n) T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 8. 2.((o) "indesinenter pernoctans", Junius & Tremellius; "pernoctat", Piscator, Gejerus; "pernoctabit", Michaelis.

He that dwelleth in the {a} secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

(a) He who makes God his defence and trust will perceive his protection to be a most sure safeguard.

1. Whoever takes refuge with God will find himself under the protection of an Almighty guardian. “He shall be treated as God’s guest … His Almighty Power shall be spread around him during the night of trouble and peril. Loving faith on man’s part shall be met by faithful love on God’s part” (Kay). Such is the sense of the A.V., which is certainly the most natural rendering of the verse. It is however rejected by most modern commentators as tautological. The predicate, it is said, simply repeats the subject, for the verb shall abide, or lodge, does not bear the emphatic meaning of permanent sojourn. But the verb is not used of temporary sojourn only (cp. Psalm 25:13), and if the emphasis is on the words in the shelter of the Almighty, the second line is not merely a repetition of the first.

Other renderings which have been suggested are (1) As one that dwelleth in the covert of the Most High, that lodgeth in the shadow of the Almighty, I will say, &c. Cp. R.V. marg. This construction however is harsh and cumbrous. (2) With the insertion of a word at the beginning of Psalm 91:1, Happy is the man that dwelleth … that lodgeth … that saith …; an emendation plausible enough in itself, but without any support from the Ancient Versions. (3) With a slight change of text, He that dwelleth … that lodgeth … saith of Jehovah. This emendation has much to commend it. It is supported by the LXX (ἐρεῖ), and it gets rid of the supposed tautology, as well as of the somewhat perplexing first person I will say in Psalm 91:2.

But it is unnecessary if Psalm 91:1 is explained as above; the gain to the sense is doubtful; and the elimination of the first person destroys a feature of the Psalm. Its use here is supported by its recurrence in Psalm 91:9.

secret place] Covert or hiding-place. Cp. Psalm 27:5; Psalm 31:20; Psalm 32:7, &c.

the shadow] Shelter or protection. The figure is probably (cp. Psalm 91:4) derived from the care of the mother-bird for her young (Psalm 17:8, &c.), rather than from the hospitable roof (Genesis 19:8), or sheltering rock (Isaiah 32:2).

the Most High … the Almighty] Significant titles, chosen to emphasise the power of the Sovereign Ruler of the world to defend His people.

1, 2. The theme of the Psalm; Jehovah a secure defence for those who take refuge in Him.

Verse 1. - He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High (comp. Psalm 90:1). He who has his thoughts always on God is said to "dwell in him" - to "make his abode with him" - to "sit down in his secret place." He has the Almighty, as it were, for his constant companion. Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. This is not "tautology." What is meant is that "loving faith on man's part shall be met by faithful love on God's part" (Kay). God will extend his "shadow" over the man who places himself under his protection. Psalm 91:1As the concealing One, God is called עליון, the inaccessibly high One; and as the shadowing One שׁדּי, the invincibly almighty One. Faith, however, calls Him by His covenant name (Heilsname) יהוה and, with the suffix of appropriation, אלהי (my God). In connection with Psalm 91:1 we are reminded of the expressions of the Book of Job, Job 39:28, concerning the eagle's building its nest in its eyrie. According to the accentuation, Psalm 91:2 ought to be rendered with Geier, "Dicit: in Domino meo (or Domini) latibulum, etc." But the combination אמר לה is more natural, since the language of address follows in both halves of the verse.
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