By Henry Law
Internal textual evidence establishes that the apprehension of near sickness and the approach of pestilence awakened this Psalm. Firm confidence is expressed in God's protecting power. May we find Him a very present help in all our troubles!
1. "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
The Ark behind the veil was regarded as the symbol of God's presence. Common gaze penetrates not the secret place. In general men do not strive for acquaintance with God. They do not seek Him in Christ. But those who thus find Him will ever cling to Him with strengthening grasp. They will rest in Him as in a calm and cool abode. His shadow will ward off the fiery darts of Satan, and avert the hot persecution of the ungodly.
2. "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in Him will I trust."
Faith makes bold profession. It casts off fear, and avows that in God it finds a safe retreat--a sure protection--an almighty friend. This confidence will never be disappointed.
3-6. "Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the harmful pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings shall you trust; His truth shall be your shield and rampart. You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday."
Troubles are enumerated such as are common to this mortal lot. But trust in God exalts above their fatal reach. The fowler may lay hidden snares, but they shall not entrap. The noxious pestilence shall inflict no deathful wound. The Almighty shall extend His covering wing. His faithful promises shall uphold the combatant in the hour of battle. By night, by day, the dwelling shall be impervious to plague.
There may be a literal reference to the deliverance of Israel's sons, and their exemption from all contact with harm when plagues laid low the Egyptian hosts. There may be spiritual reference to the deliverance of God's children from the destroying attacks of Satan. But one truth is undeniable. The real happiness and safety of true believers is emphatically assured, and we are exhorted to pray for sustaining faith, and in all perils to trust without one fear.
7-10. "A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation; there no evil shall befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling."
Other terms are added to strengthen assurance. Those who by faith repose on God shall surely be upheld. Though troubles be multiplied, they shall never be cast off. In much apparent peril they shall be really safe.
11-12. "For He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You in all Your ways. They shall bear You up in their hands, lest You dash Your foot against a stone."
This promise is distinctly addressed to Jesus. As such the devil quoted it, and Jesus heard without rejection. If we are one with Jesus, the promises which were poured upon His head will flow down to us, and will invest us in security.
13-16. "You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shall you trample under feet. Because He has set His love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has 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 honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation."
The same encouraging strain still sounds. All who have set their love on God, and all who know His name, may claim fulfillment. They shall have deliverance in every day of trouble. God will honor them in time, and honor them with a long life, even forever and ever. Happy indeed are the people who thus dwell in the secret place of the Most High.