Surely he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
It is a frequent usage of the psalmist's to compare the soul of man to a bird (cf. Psalm 11., 84., etc.). In the next verse God himself is likened to the mother bird that shelters her young under her wings. And, like a bird, the soul of man is exposed to many dangers. Not alone such as are open and known, but such as are bidden, secret, and subtle; not alone from the hovering hawk, but also from the crafty snare of the fowler. And with such souls as are contemplated in this psalm, it is this latter peril which is the true image of that against which they need to guard, and from which God alone can deliver them. The snare of the fowler - it is a very suggestive similitude. Consider, therefore -
I. THE DANGER THAT THREATENS THE BELIEVER. It is as a snare.
1. A concealed peril. For the fowler to show himself, or to spread his snare in the sight of any bird, would be to defeat the very object he has in view. Hence he conceals himself and his snare both. And so also doth that crafty hunter who seeks for souls that he may destroy them -
"Satan, the fowler, who betrays Unguarded souls a thousand ways" - he does not venture to display openly the evil which he intends by the suggestions be plies us with and the temptations which he puts in our way. Rather he transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Thus craftily does he hide away from us the real nature of the sin into which he would betray us.
2. Adapted to our nature. The fowler does not seek to snare all birds in the same way, but he studies their nature and likings and haunts, and so sets his snare. And is it not just thus with our great adversary? He knows our weak points, where the chink in our armour is through which his darts may enter. He knows where we are vulnerable, how we may be best ensnared. That which would tempt one man would have no attraction, or but little, for another. And Satan knows that. Ah! where should we be were it not for the safe keeping of God?
3. Attractively baited. How the devil lured Saul to persecute the Church, by persuading him that he was "doing God service"! How Christian people are often led to mingle in strange scenes, and to associate with those who are no friends to Christ in their amusements and ways, on the pretext that so they may bring these ungodly ones under good influence, and thus lead them on to something better! The result is generally the reverse of what was expected. Satan has a vast variety of these baits, and the souls are not a few that he has snared by means of them. "It is only for once;" "Don't listen to narrow, prejudiced people;" "You can't help your nature and disposition;" "You can repent, and get forgiveness;" - these are some of the fowler's baits with which he tempts us into his snare.
4. Sometimes he uses decoys. "Religious people do such things: why shouldn't you?"
5. Sometimes he employs several of them together. Old Master Quarles says -
"The close pursuers' busy hands do plant Snares in thy substance; snares attend thy want Snares in thy credit; snares in thy disgrace; Snares in thy high estate; snares in thy base; Snares tuck thy bed, and snares surround thy board; Snares watch thy thoughts; snares attack thy word; Snares in thy quiet; snares in thy commotion; Snares in thy diet; snares in thy devotion; Snares lurk in thy resolves, snares in thy doubts; Snares lie within thy heart, and snares without; Snares are above thy head, and snares beneath; Snares in thy sickness; snares are in thy death." There is not a place in which a believer walks that is free from them. Therefore let us watch and pray.
II. OUR RICH CONSOLATION IN VIEW OF THESE DANGERS. God will "surely" deliver us from them.
1. He has promised to do so.
2. He has done so for his people in all ages who have sought such deliverance.
3. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil; therefore, certainly, these snares.
III. THE NATURE OF HIS DELIVERANCE. How does the Lord fulfil this word?
1. By not letting us fall into them. He keeps us from the evil, that it shall not touch us. This is very blessed - more blessed than to be delivered out of the snare when we have fallen therein. The eider brother was, after all, more to be envied than the restored prodigal. We too much forget this. God has many means of holding us back from sin. Chief of all, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, giving us, as to Joseph, a holy fear and an abiding love of God.
2. By rescuing us out of the snare. Yes, he stands ready to do this. You fallen ones, he will do this for you. - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.