He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
These are the words of one who had known almost more than any other man of the shafts of unkindness, and the arrows of death, and the cruel torments of life. None, probably, save only David's Son, ever equalled David in the degree in which he had passed through all the sympathies of our common nature. And this is his testimony, that in the midst of all there is a "place," a "secret place," as deep in its secrecy as God is high in His omnipotence, shadowed over by the hand of God.
I. What is meant by the secret place? The secret of the whole of the Old Testament is the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore to the mind of David—i.e., in its first intention—the expression, "the secret place of the Most High," would certainly connect itself with Christ.
II. The Psalmist designates the man who "dwells" in the secret place. It is a beautiful idea—the man who has his home in Christ. It is to have Jesus all round us—our covering, our beauty, our defence, our rest.
III. Every promise has in it the dignity and the security of prophecy. "He shall abide." The image assures us of two things: (1) safety; (2) peace. He who refreshes himself in Christ has a refuge to which he can return again and again, and it is always there. It is the same "yesterday, today, and for ever."
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 9th series, p. 134.
References: Psalm 91:1.— J. N. Norton, Every Sunday, p. 257. Psalm 91:1, Psalm 91:2.— R. S. Candlish, The Gospel of Forgiveness, p. 227. Psalm 91:2.— Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii., No. 1297. Psalm 91:3.— Ibid., vol. iii., No. 124. Psalm 91:4.—Ibid., vol. xv., No. 902. Psalm 91:11.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xv., p. 143; J. H. Keble, Sermons for Saints' Days, p. 372.
Psalm 91:1-2Three parties speak in this Psalm: the witness for God, the brother in peril, and God Himself.
I. The witness for God, the sympathising friend of the party exposed to danger, speaking from his own experience, declares generally, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1, and see also Psalm 91:9). Three lessons are taught in that inner school: (1) That God is true, true to Himself and true to you. (2) In your new dwelling-place you see the reward of the wicked. (3) You learn that there are members of the family not involved in your peril who yet are deeply and affectionately interested in your safety: "He shall give His angels charge over thee," etc.
II. The second party in this discourse and dialogue—the brother in peril—says very little. But the little which he does say is very comprehensive: "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; in Him will I trust" (Psalm 91:2). It is a prompt response to the very first appeal made to him. It is the language not of faith only, but of love.
III. What God Himself is overheard to say at the close of the Psalm is the glorious corner-stone of this edifice of confidence. (1) Mark the cause assigned by the Lord for the warm interest which He feels in His servant thus exposed: "He has set his love upon Me; he has known My name." (2) Mark how the Lord speaks, connecting His servant's love to Him and knowledge of His name with His own purpose of deliverance and exaltation, as if His honour were concerned to make it plain that the love is not misplaced: "I will deliver him." (3) Mark what the Lord expects on the part of His servant: "He shall call upon Me." (4) Mark the assurance of the Lord's gracious interposition, answering to His servant's calling upon Him: "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him," etc. (5) Nor is it to be all trouble with the man of God while he is fighting the good fight and finishing his course. Nay, there is so much enjoyment for him as to make him rather wish for its continuance, and welcome the concluding promise which he hears the Lord giving: "With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation."
R. S. Candlish, The Gospel of Forgiveness, p. 227.
References: Psalm 91:3.— Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 24. Psalm 91:5.— C. Kingsley, Discipline, and Other Sermons, p. 198; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 113. Psalm 91:5-10.— R. Lee, Sermons, p. 44. Psalm 91:9.— Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 58. Psalm 91:11.— Ibid., My Sermon Notes: Genesis to Proverbs, p. 157. Psalm 91:12.— H. Melvill, Sermons on Less Prominent Facts, vol. ii., p. 170.
Psalm 91:13The definite promise, "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the dragon," was a reference not only to reptiles and wild beasts of outward evil, but to evils in which the deadliness of vice is concentrated in our individual hearts: evil thoughts, and deeds, and habits which assail and hurt the soul. The fitness of the metaphor is shown by the fact that we find it also in the heathen mythology. The Greek type of a deliverer of the world was the hero Hercules. They saw, as we see, that he who would indeed conquer evil in the world must first conquer it in his own heart. The moral is finely conveyed in the legend of his conquest of the Nemaean lion. Every man's Nemaean lion lies in the way for him somewhere. All future victories depend upon that. Kill it, and through all the rest of your lives what was once terrible becomes your armour; you are clothed with the virtue of that conquest.
I. In the first place, this lion is to be fought in the darkness, and in the cavern, and with no earthly weapons. The lion is that inward sin, that special impulse and temptation to evil, which is most directed against your individual heart.
II. Observe the infinite superiority which Christ has granted to us in these days. The Greeks had noble ideals, but their conduct fell as far short of these ideals as ours does. But often these ideals were grievously corrupt. Human strength and knowledge are at the best but perfect weakness. But it is the mercy of God that He has given us in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ an ideal not human, but Divine.
III. Notice that the more early this battle is undertaken, the more surely it is won. He who strangles serpents in his youth slays monsters in his manhood. He who has early had strength to conquer temptations will not be so likely later to lose his self-reverence and his self-control.
F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 33.
References: Psalm 91:14.—A. Fletcher, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 233. Psalm 91—M. G. Pearse, Some Aspects of the Blessed Life, pp. 81, 114. Psalm 92:2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix., No. 1138. Psalm 92:4.—Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 227. Psalm 92:5, Psalm 92:6.—F. Tholuck, Hours of Devotion, p. 99. Psalm 92:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix., No. 1122, and vol. xxviii., No. 1649. Psalm 92:12.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 188. Psalm 92:13-15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1365; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xi., p. 7. Psalm 93:2.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 325. Psalm 93:5.—G. W. McCree, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 285; A. Watson, Sermons for Sundays, Festivals, and Fasts, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 9.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
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.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.