While the first two verses of Psalm 91 depict the faithful character of God, verses 3 and 4 describe what God does. The psalmist names three actions the Lord takes on our behalf.
While the first two verses of Psalm 91 depict the faithful character of God, verses 3 and 4 describe what God does. The psalmist names three actions the Lord takes on our behalf:
- He delivers: from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence
- He covers: with His pinions/under His wings
- He shields: by His faithfulness
The Hebrew sentence structure enables us to point out particular emphases in our study from time to time. In this case, the emphatic part of verses 3–4 is "He." We might render the line: "He alone" or "He it is—not anyone else!" Practically speaking, you will find no absolute assistance or deliverance from anyone other than your Lord.
Now, one at a time, let's look at the specific actions God takes to protect and sustain us when the enemy attacks. The psalmist describes these actions using three different analogies.
1. He delivers from the snare of the trapper. The first analogy imagines a bird becoming entangled in a fowler's trap, which is baited with something the bird needs. My Webster's dictionary says that a trap is "something by which one gets entangled, something deceptively attractive." The word "deliver" is translated from natzal, meaning "to separate, to cause removal." It suggests that the bird has already been deceived by the trap and has been caught. Certain death awaits, as described by the phrase "the deadly pestilence." Literally, from "a death of destruction." One translation renders this "a violent death."
2. He covers with His pinions, under His wings. The Lord is here pictured as a bird keeping close watch over its brood. Both Psalm 36:7 and Psalm 57:1 mention the protection we have under our Lord's "wings." When danger presents itself, baby ducks and geese make a beeline for their mother, who creates a shroud with her wings. The mother will then pivot to keep her young hidden from any predators.
3. He shields by His faithfulness. The psalmist has pictured our Lord's protection in three distinct ways in verses 3 and 4. First, in the scene of a trapper. Second, in the scene of a bird and her brood. Now, in the scene of a battle. Here he assures us that we are guarded by His faithful presence. The Hebrew word for "shield" depicts a protective barrier large enough to protect a soldier from a hail of arrows. The term translated "bulwark" comes from a term that carries the idea of "surrounding." It could be another kind of large, curved shield. Because the term also denotes a particular kind of stone, the concept of a fortified barrier, such as a castle wall, makes better sense.
Regardless, the idea is the same: in the heat of battle, when the enemy's attacks become too much to bear, the faithfulness of God is there for your protection; hide behind Him.