Psalm 91:14
Because he has set his love on me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known my name.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14-16) Another abrupt change of person. The conclusion of the psalm comes as a Divine confirmation of the psalmist’s expression of confidence. (Comp. Psalm 50:15; Psalm 50:23, with these verses.)

(14) Set his love upon me.—Or, clung to me

Psalms

THE ANSWER TO TRUST

Psalm 91:14
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There are two voices speaking in the earlier part of this psalm: one that of a saint who professes his reliance upon the Lord, his Fortress; and another which answers the former speaker, and declares that he shall be preserved by God. In this verse, which is the first of the final portion of the psalm, we have a third voice-the voice of God Himself, which comes in to seal and confirm, to heighten and transcend, all the promises that have been made in His name. The first voice said of himself, ‘I will trust’; the second voice addresses that speaker, and says, ‘Thou shalt not be afraid’; the third voice speaks of him, and not to him, and says, ‘Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him.’

Why does this divine voice speak thus indirectly of this blessing of His servant? I think partly because it heightens the majesty of the utterance, as if God spake to the whole universe about what He meant to do for His friend who trusts Him; and partly because, in that general form of speech, there is really couched an ‘whosoever’; and it applies to us all. If God had said, ‘Because thou hast set thy love upon Me, I will deliver thee,’ it had not been so easy for us to put ourselves in the place of the man concerning whom this great divine voice spoke; but when He says, ‘Because he hath set his love upon Me,’ in the ‘he’ there lies ‘everybody’; and the promise spoken before the universe as to His servants is spoken universally to His servants.

So, then, these words seem to me to carry two thoughts: the first, what God delights to find in a man; and the second, what God delights to give to the man in whom He finds it.

I. Note, first, what God delights to find in man.

There is, if we may reverently say so, a tone of satisfaction in the words, ‘Because he hath set his love upon Me,’ and ‘because he hath known My name.’ Thus, then, there are two things that the great Father’s heart seeks, and wheresoever it finds them, in however imperfect a degree, He is glad, and lavishes upon such a one the most precious things in His possession.

What are these two things? Let us look at each of them. Now the word rendered ‘set his love’ includes more than is suggested by that rendering, beautiful as it is. It implies the binding or knitting oneself to anything. Now, though love be the true cement by which men are bound to God, as it is the only real bond which binds men to one another, yet the word itself covers a somewhat wider area than is covered by the notion of love. It is not my love only that I am to fasten upon God, but my whole self that I am to bind to Him. God delights in us when we cling to Him. There is a threefold kind of clinging, which I would urge upon you and upon myself.

Let us cling to Him in our thoughts, hour by hour, moment by moment, amidst all the distractions of daily life. Whilst there are other things that must legitimately occupy our minds, let us see to it that, ever and anon, we turn ourselves away from these, and betake ourselves, with a conscious gathering in of our souls, to Him, and calm and occupy our hearts and minds with the bright and peaceful thoughts of a present God ever near us, and ever gracious to us. Life is but a dreary stretch of wilderness, unless all through it there be dotted, like a chain of ponds in a desert, these moments in which the mind fixes itself upon God, and loses sorrows and sins and weakness and all other sadnesses in the calm and blessed contemplation of His sweetness and sufficiency. The very heavens are bare and lacking in highest beauty, unless there stretch across them the long lines of rosy-tinted clouds. And so across our skies let us cast a continuous chain of thoughts of God, and as we go about our daily work, let us try to have our minds ever recurring to Him, like the linked pools that mirror heaven in the midst of the barren desert, and bring a reflection of life into the midst of its death. Cleave and cling to God, brother! by frequent thoughts of Him, diffused throughout the whole continuity of the busy day.

Then again, we might say, let us cleave to Him by our love, which is the one bond of union, as I said, between man and God, as it is the one bond of union between man and man. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength,’ was from the beginning the Alpha, and until the end will be the Omega, of all true religion; and within the sphere of that commandment lie all duty, all Christianity, all blessedness, and all life. The heart that is divided is wretched; the heart that is consecrated is at rest. The love that is partial is nought; the love that is worth calling so is total and continuous. Let us cling to Him with our thoughts; let us cling to Him with the tendrils of our hearts.

Let us cleave to Him, still further, by the obedient contact of our wills with His, taking no commandments from men, and no overpowering impressions from circumstances, and no orders from our own fancies and inclinations and tastes and lusts, but receiving all our instructions from our Father in heaven. There is no real contact between us and God, no real cleaving to Him, howsoever the thought of God may be in our minds, and some kind of imperfect love to Him may be supposed to be in our hearts, unless there be the absolute submission of our wills to His authority; and only in the measure in which we are able to say, What He commands I do, and what He sends I accept, and my will is in His hands to be moulded, do we really get close and keep close to our Father in the heavens. He that hath brought himself into loving touch with God, and clings to Him in that threefold fashion, by thought, love, and submission, he, and only he, is so joined to the Lord as to be one Spirit.

Now that is not a state to be won and kept without much vigorous, conscious effort. The nuts in a machine work loose; the knots in a rope ‘come untied,’ as the children say. The hand that clasps anything, by slow and imperceptible degrees, loses muscular contraction, and the grip of the fingers becomes slacker. Our minds and affections and wills have that same tendency to slacken their hold of what they grasp. Unless we tighten up the machine it will work loose; and unless we make conscious efforts to keep ourselves in touch with God, His hand will slip out of ours before we know that it is gone, and we shall fancy that we feel the impression of the fingers long after they have been taken away from our negligent palms.

Besides our own vagrancies, and the waywardness and wanderings of our poor, unreliable natures, there come in, of course, as hindrances, all the interruptions and distractions of outside things, which work in the same direction of loosening our hold on God. If the shipwrecked sailor is not to be washed off the raft he must tie himself on to it, and must see that the lashings are reliable and the knots tight; and if we do not mean to be drifted away from God without knowing it, we must make very sure work of anchor and cable, and of our own hold on both. Effort is needed, continuous and conscious, lest at any time we should slide away from Him. And this is what God delights to find: a mind and will that bind themselves to Him.

There is another thing in the text which, as I take it, is a consequence of that close union between man in his whole nature and God: ‘I will set him on high because he hath known My name.’ Notice that the knowledge of the name comes after, and not before, the setting of the love or the fixing of the nature upon God. God’s ‘name’ is the same thing as His self-revelation or His manifested character. Then, does not every one to whom that revelation is made know His name? Certainly not. The word ‘know’ is here used in the same deep sense in which it is employed all but uniformly in the New Testament-the same sense in which it is used in the writings of the Apostle John. It describes a knowledge which is a great deal more than a mere intellectual acquaintance with the facts of divine revelation. Or, to put the thought into other words, this is a knowledge which comes after we have set our love upon God, a knowledge which is the child of love. We forget sometimes that it is a Person, and not a system of truth, whom the Bible tells us we are to know. And how do you know people? Only by familiar acquaintance with them. You might read a description of a man, perfectly accurate, sufficiently full, but you would not therefore say you knew him. You might know about him, or fancy you did, but if you knew him, it would be because you had summered and wintered with him, and lived beside him, and were on terms of familiar acquaintance with him. As long as it is God and not theology, the knowledge of whom makes religion, so long it will not be the head, but the heart or spirit, that is the medium or organ by which we know Him. You have to become acquainted with Him and be very familiar with Him-that is to say, to fix your whole self upon Him-before you ‘know’ Him; and it is only the knowledge which is born of love and familiarity that is worth calling knowledge at all. Just as with our earthly relationships and acquaintances, only they who love a man or a woman know such a one right down to the very depth of their being, so the one way to know God’s name is to bind myself to Him with mind and heart and will, as friends cleave to one another. Then I shall know Him and be known of Him.

Still further, this knowledge which God delights to find in us men, is a knowledge which is experience. There is all the difference between reading about a foreign country and going to see it with your own eyes. The man that has been there knows it; the man that has not knows about it. And only he knows God to whom the commonplaces of religion have turned into facts which he verifies by his own experiences.

It is a knowledge, too, which influences life. Obviously the words of my text look back to what the saint was represented as saying in an earlier portion of the psalm. Why does God declare that the man has set his love upon Him, and knows His name? Because the saint professed this, ‘I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress.’ These are His name. The man knows it; he has it not only upon his lips, but in his heart, and feels that it is true, and acts accordingly. ‘He is my Refuge and my Fortress; my God, in Him will I trust.’ The knowledge which God regards as knowledge of Him is one based upon experience and upon familiar acquaintance, and issuing in joyful recognition of my possession of Him as mine, and the outgoing of my confidence to Him. These are the things that God desires and delights to find in men.

II. Note, secondly, what God gives to the man in whom He finds such things.

‘I will deliver him’; ‘I will set him on high.’ These two clauses are substantially parallel, and yet there is a difference between them, as is the nature of the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, where the same ideas are repeated with a shade of modification, and the second of them somewhat surpassing the first. ‘I will deliver him,’ says the promise. That confirms the view that the promise in the previous verse, ‘There shall no plague come nigh thy dwelling,’ does not mean exemption from sorrow and trial because, if so, there would be no relevancy or blessedness in the promise of deliverance. He who needs ‘deliverance’ is the man who is surrounded by evils, and God’s promise is not that no evil shall come to the man who trusts Him, but that he shall be delivered out of the evil that does come, and that it will not be truly evil.

And why is he to be delivered? ‘Because he has bound himself to Me,’ says God, ‘therefore will I deliver him.’ Of course, if I am fastened to God, nothing that does not hurt Him can hurt me. If I am knit to Him as closely as this psalm contemplates, it is impossible but that out of His fulness my emptiness shall be filled, and with His rejoicing strength my weakness will be made strong. It is just the same idea as is given to us in the picture of Peter upon the water, when the cold waves are up to his knees, and the coward heart says, ‘I am ready to sink,’ but yet, with the faith that comes with the fear, he puts out his hand and grasps Christ’s hand, and as soon as he does, and the two are united, he is buoyant, and rises again, and the water is beneath the soles of his feet. ‘He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.’ Whoever is joined to God is lifted above all evil, and the evil that continues to eddy about him will change its character, and bear him onwards to his haven. For he who is thus knit to God in the living, pulsating bond of thought and affection and submission, will be delivered from sin.

When a boy first learns to skate, he needs some one to go behind him and hold him up whilst he uses his unaccustomed limbs; and so, when we are upon the smooth, treacherous ice of this wicked world, it is by leaning on God that we are kept upright. ‘He hath set himself close to Me, I will deliver him,’ says God. ‘Yea! he shall not fall, for the Lord is able to make him stand.’

Still further, we have another great promise, which is the explanation and extension of the former, ‘I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.’ That is more than lifting a man up above the reach of the storms of life by means of any external deliverance. There is a better thing than that-namely, that our whole inward life be lived loftily. If it is true of us that we know His name, then our lives are ‘hid with Christ in God,’ and far below our feet will be all the riot of earth and its noise and tumult and change. We shall live serene and uplifted lives on the mount, if we know His name and have bound ourselves to Him, and the troubles and cares and changes and duties and joys of this present will be away down below us, like the lowly cottages in some poor village, seen from the mountain top, the squalor out of sight, the magnitude diminished, the noise and tumult dimmed to a mere murmur that interrupts not the sacred silence of the lofty peak where we dwell with God. ‘I will set him on high because he knows My name.’

Then, perhaps, there is a hint in the words, as there is in subsequent words of the verse, of an elevation even higher than that, when, life ended and earth done, He shall receive into His glory those whom He hath guided by His counsel. ‘I will set him on high, because he hath known My name,’ says the Jehovah of the Old Covenant. ‘To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne,’ says the Jesus of the New, who is the Jehovah of the Old.Psalm 91:14-16. Because he hath set his love upon me — In the former part of the Psalm the prophet had spoken in his own person; but here God himself is introduced as the speaker, confirming the preceding promises, and giving an account of the reasons of his singular care of all that truly believe and trust in him. Therefore will I deliver him — I will abundantly recompense his love with my favour and blessing. I will set him on high — In a high and safe place, where no evil can reach him; because he hath known my name — With a true and saving knowledge, so as to love me and put his trust in me; God’s name being here, as often elsewhere, put for God himself. He shall call upon me — As he knows and loves me, so he will offer up sincere and fervent prayers to me upon all occasions. And I will answer him — I will grant his petitions as far as will be for his good and my glory. I will be with him in trouble — To keep him from sinking under his burden. With long life — Either in this world, when it is expedient for my service, and for his benefit; or, at least, in the next world, where he shall live to eternity, in the blissful sight and enjoyment of me in glory. And show him my salvation — Either here or hereafter. 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.Because he hath set his love upon me - Has become attached to me; has united himself with me; is my friend. The Hebrew word expresses the strongest attachment, and is equivalent to our expression - "to fall in love." It refers here to the fact that God is the object of supreme affection on the part of his people; and it also here implies, that this springs from their hearts; that they have seen such beauty in his character, and have such strong desire for him, that their hearts go out in warm affection toward him.

Therefore will I deliver him - I will save him from trouble and from danger.

I will set him on high - By acknowledging him as my own, and treating him accordingly.

Because he hath known my name - He has known me; that is, he understands my true character, and has learned to love me.

14-16. God Himself speaks (compare Ps 46:10; 75:2, 3). All the terms to express safety and peace indicate the most undoubting confidence (compare Ps 18:2; 20:1; 22:5).

set his love—that of the most ardent kind.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Psalm 91:14

Here we have the Lord himself speaking of his own chosen one. "Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him." Not because he deserves to be thus kept, but because with all his imperfections he does love his God; therefore not the angels of God only, but the God of angels himself will come to his rescue in all perilous times, and will effectually deliver him. When the heart is enamoured of the Lord, all taken up with him, and intensely attached to him, the Lord will recognise the sacred flame, and preserve the man who bears it in his bosom. It is love, - love set upon God, which is the distinguishing mark of those whom the Lord secures from ill. "I will set him on high, because he hath known my name." The man has known the attributes of God so as to trust in him, and then by experience has arrived at a yet deeper knowledge, this shall be regarded by the Lord as a pledge of his grace, and he will set the owner of it above danger or fear, where he shall dwell in peace and joy. None abide in intimate fellowship with God unless they possess a warm affection towards God, and an intelligent trust in him; these grits of grace are precious in Jehovah's eyes, and wherever he sees them he smiles upon them. How elevated is the standing which the Lord gives to the believer. We ought to covet it right earnestly. If we climb on high it may be dangerous, but if God sets us there it is glorious.

Psalm 91:15

"He shall call upon me, and I will answer him." He will have need to pray, he will be led to pray aright, and the answer shall surely come. Saints are first called of God, and then they call upon God; such calls as theirs always obtain answers. Not without prayer will the blessing come to the most favoured, but by means of prayer they shall receive all good things. "I will be with him in trouble," or "I am with him in trouble." Heirs of heaven are conscious of a special divine presence in times of severe trial. God is always near in sympathy and in power to help his tried ones. "I will deliver him, and honour him." The man honours God, and God honours him. Believers are not delivered or preserved in a way which lowers them, and makes them feel themselves degraded; far from it, the Lord's salvation bestows honour upon those it delivers. God first gives us conquering grace, and then rewards us for it.

Psalm 91:16

"With long life will I satisfy him." The man described in this Psalm fills out the measure of his days, and whether he dies young or old he is quite satisfied with life, and is content to leave it. He shall rise from life's banquet as a man who has had enough, and would not have more even if he could. "And shew him my salvation." The full sight of divine grace shall be his closing vision. He shall look from Amana and Lebanon. Not with destruction before him black as night, but with salvation bright as noonday smiling upon him he shall enter into his rest.

This and the two following verses are the words of God, whom the psalmist here, as oft elsewhere, introduceth as giving an account of the reasons of God’s singular care of all believing or pious persons.

I will deliver him; I will abundantly recompense his love with my favour and blessing.

On high; in a high and safe place, where no evil can reach him.

Hath known my name, with a true and saving knowledge, so as to love me and put his trust in me. God’s name is here put for God himself, as it is also Deu 28:58 Psalm 20:1 105:1. Because he hath set his love upon me,.... These are the words of God himself; and, according to Aben Ezra, are directed to the angels, describing the good man, and making promises to him; and in this clause he is represented as one that had "set his love" upon the Lord, being first loved by the Lord, and having the grace of love wrought in his heart by him: the phrase denotes the strength of his affection to God, and the sincerity of it; its singularity, being placed alone on him, and the settlement and fixedness of it, so as nothing could separate from it: this the Lord takes great notice of, and is highly well pleased with: hence it follows,

therefore will I deliver him: from noisome diseases before mentioned, from all afflictions into which he comes, and from all the temptations of the evil one, so as that he shall not be hurt or destroyed by them:

I will set him on high; on the Rock Christ Jesus, that is higher than he, higher than the angels, higher than the heavens, and where he is now out of the reach of all his enemies, and will be set hereafter on high in heaven, among princes, inheriting the throne of glory; yea, even set upon the same throne with Christ himself:

because he hath known my name; himself, his being, and perfections; his Son, the Angel of his presence, in whom his name, nature, and perfections are; and his name as proclaimed in him, a God gracious and merciful; and this not merely notionally, but experimentally, and affectionately and fiducially; for such, that truly know him, love him, and trust in him; and these exalt him, and so are exalted and set on high by him.

{i} Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

(i) To assure the faithful of God's protection, he brings in God to confirm the same.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. he hath set his love upon me] Love responds to love. The word means to cling to with love, and is used of God’s love for Israel in Deuteronomy 7:7; Deuteronomy 10:15.

set him on high] In safety from his enemies. Cp. Psalm 20:1.

known my name] Recognised My revealed character as the faithful guardian of My people. Cp. Psalm 9:10; Psalm 5:11.

14–16. God Himself speaks, solemnly confirming the Psalmist’s faith.Verse 14. - Because he hath set his love upon me (see Deuteronomy 7:7; Deuteronomy 10:15). "By a sudden and effective transition," as Professor Cheyne remarks, "Jehovah becomes the speaker" of the concluding strophe. It is not enough that the faithful should encourage each other by their anticipations of God's coming mercies, God himself now speaks by the mouth of his prophet, and makes promises in his own Person. I will deliver him. A ratification of vers. 3, 7, 10-15. I will set him on high; i.e. "exalt him above his fellows" - "bring him to honour." Because he hath known my Name. "Knowing God's Name" is nearly equivalent to knowing him. It implies, besides knowledge, faith and trust in the Almighty. 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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