Psalm 91:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. 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 its 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 the first verse 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.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3. He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler. Are we therefore beasts? Beasts doubtless. When man was in honour he understood not, but was like the foolish beasts. ( Psalms 49:12 ) Men are certainly beasts, wandering sheep, having no shepherd. Why art thou proud, O man? Why dost thou boast thyself, O smatterer? See what a beast thou art, for whom the snares of the fowler are being prepared. But who are these fowlers? The fowlers indeed are the worst and most wicked, the cleverest and the most cruel. The fowlers are they who sound no horn, that they may not be heard, but shoot their arrows in secret places at the innocent... But lo! since we know the fowlers and the beasts, our further enquiry must be, what this snare may be. I wish not myself to invent it, nor to deliver to you what is subject to doubt. The Apostle shows us this snare, for he was not ignorant of the devices of these fowlers. Tell us, I pray, blessed Paul, what this snare of the devil is, from which the faithful soul rejoices that it is delivered? They that will be rich (in this world?) says he, fall into temptation and the snare (of the devil?) ( 1 Timothy 6:9-10 ). Are not the riches of this world, then, the snare of the devil?. Alas! how few we find who can boast of freedom from this snare, how many who grieve that they seem to themselves too little enmeshed in the net, and who still labour and toil with all their strength to involve and entangle themselves more and more. Ye who have left all and followed the Son of man who has not where to lay his head, rejoice and say, He hath delivered we from the snare of the fowlers. Bernard.

Verse 3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the noisome pestilence. Lord Craven lived in London when that sad calamity, the plague, raged. His house was in that part of the town called Craven Buildings. On the plague growing epidemic, his Lordship, to avoid the danger, resolved to go to his seat in the country. His coach and six were accordingly at the door, his baggage put up, and all things in readiness for the journey. As he was walking through his hall with his hat on, his cane under his arm, and putting on his gloves, in order to step into his carriage, he overheard his negro, who served him as postillion, saying to another servant. "I suppose, by my Lord's quitting London to avoid the plague, that his God lives in the country, and not in town." The poor negro said this in the simplicity of his heart, as really believing a plurality of gods. The speech, however, struck Lord Craven very sensibly, and made him pause. "My God," thought he, "lives everywhere, and can preserve me in town as well as in the country. I will even stay where I am. The ignorance of that negro has just now preached to me a very useful sermon. Lord, pardon this unbelief, and that distrust of thy providence, which made me think of running from thy hand." He immediately ordered his horses to be taken from the coach, and the baggage to be taken in. He continued in London, was remarkably useful among his sick neighbours, and never caught the infection. Whitecross's Anecdotes.

Verse 3, 6. Pestilence. It is from a word (rkd) that signifies to speak, and speak out; the pestilence is a speaking thing, it proclaims the wrath of God amongst a people. Drusius fetches it from the same root, but in piel, which is to decree; showing that the pestilence is a thing decreed in heaven, not casual. Kirker thinks it is called rkd, because it keeps order, and spares neither great nor small. The Hebrew root signifies to destroy, to cut off, and hence may the plague or pestilence have its name. The Septuagint renders it qanatos, death, for ordinarily it is death; and it is expressed by "Death," Re 6:8, he sat on the pale horse, and killed with sword, hunger, death, and beasts of the earth; it refers to Ezekiel 14:21 , where the pestilence is mentioned. Pestilence may be from a word which signifies to spread, spoil, rush upon, for it doth so; 2 Samuel 24:15 , seventy thousand slain in three days; and plague, a plhgh from plhssw, to smite, to wound, for it smites suddenly, and wounds mortally; hence it is in Numbers 14:12 , "I will smite them with the pestilence." This judgment is very grievous, it is called in Psalms 91:3 the "noisome pestilence," because it is infectious, contagious; and therefore the French read it, "de la peste dangereuse," from the dangerous pestilence, it doth endanger those that come near it: and Musculus hath it, a peste omnium pessima, from the worst pestilence of all: and others, the woeful pestilence; it brings a multitude of woes with it to any place or person it comes unto, it is a messenger of woeful fears, sorrows, distractions, terrors, and death itself. William Greenhill.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 3. Invisible protection from invisible dangers; wisdom to meet cunning, love to war with cruelty, omnipresence to match mystery, life to baffle death.

Verse 3. SURELY, or reasons for assured confidence in God's protection.

Verse 3-7. Pestilence, panic, and peace; (for times of widespread disease). Charles A. Davis.

Verse 3,8-9.

  1. Saints are safe -- "surely," ( Psalms 91:3 ).
  2. The evil is bounded -- "only," ( Psalms 91:8 ).
  3. The Lord has reasons for preserving his own -- "because," (Ps 91:9).