26 February 2021Isaiah 60:8-16
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust. (Psalm 91:1-2)
A psalm is a sacred song or poem used in worship and are written predominantly in poetic language. There are 150 psalms in the Old Testament. There are several kinds of psalms, such as psalms of lament, of praise, of confession. Some psalms were written by King David but the authorship of most is not known. Some psalms provide a heading, indicating a particular occasion or addressing the leader of music.
Psalm 91 does not have a heading and we have no indication of who the author might be. It is possible that it was written during the Exile in Babylon, but there is no certainty. It is a psalm that expresses the writer’s trust in God. He uses several images to describe God: a fortress, a place of safety; the wings of a bird that symbolise love and protection; a shield and buckler which protects from war. There are also various examples of things from which the writer feels protected: some are related to war, pestilence and various wild animals. The psalmist uses images with which he was familiar but which may sound strange to our 21st-century ears.
The angels to which the psalmist refers in verse 11, are divine messengers. They offer a sense of the psalmist being carried, which will serve as extra protection. Psalm 91 does not suggest that no harm will come. Instead, God can be relied on to offer strength and security in times of trouble.
Psalm 91 is particularly poignant for our current battle against Covid-19, a good example of a pestilence; something which causes terror by night and by day.
- Which of the images for God such as a fortress, a shield, a bird, resonates most with you?
- In what ways might Psalm 91 offer reassurance and hope in these uncertain and difficult times?