Psalm 91 – Prayer and the Pandemic

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Psalm 91 has been frequently posted on Facebook with reference to the corona virus pandemic. It is quoted as a Psalm of protection, with the words “plague” mentioned in verses 3 and 6.

The life and teaching of Jesus is always the best interpretation of the Bible. It is especially true of this Psalm. For our study today, we will place side-by-side the teaching of Jesus with the message of Psalm 91.

An Abiding Relationship

The first two verses summarize the entire Psalm. When we have a relationship of trust with God, he becomes our protection.

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)

Jesus taught the value of living in an abiding relationship with God.

He said, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15.4-5).

Jesus demonstrated what “abiding” is all about. On many different occasions and settings he described “abiding” as a relationship of trust and dependence.

For example, he said, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5.19).

Abiding or remaining in Christ, as Jesus taught and lived, is the foundation of this prayer.

God’s Protection

When we live in an abiding relationship of trust and friendship with God, we can count on his protection. Psalm 91 provides a list of God’s loving protection.

Verse 3 – He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers
and from all deadly diseases (corona virus).

Verse 4 – You will be safe in his care;
his faithfulness will protect and defend you.

Verses 5-6 – You need not fear any dangers at night
or sudden attacks during the day
or the plagues (COVID 19) that strike in the dark
or the evils that kill in daylight.

One person said, “The safest place is to be living in the perfect will of God.” As we abide in a friendship relationship of trust with Jesus, we are in the safest place possible.

Reminder #2

As if we could forget the foundation of our hope, the speaker in Psalm 91 reminds us a second time. Our safety and protection does not lie in trusting a Bible verse to apply to us, unless we have fulfilled our part of the agreement.

It is only when God our dwelling place that we can expect his protection, as outlined in this Psalm.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling place,
no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.
(Psalm 91.9-10)

Frank Laubach discovered 46 references in the Gospel of John, where Jesus taught in one way or another that he was completely dependent on the Father. The way he made God his “dwelling place,” was to live in an obedient relationship of love with his Father.

Here is another example of what Jesus said about his relationship with the Father: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 6.38).

Let’s not forget that when Jesus was facing evil, suffering and death he prayed, “Not what I want but what you want” (Matthew 26.39).

Be Careful

There are two passages in Psalm 91 that are frequently posted on Facebook as verses we should “claim” for protection.

Verse 7A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

Verses 11-12For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.

Before we “claim” these verses, it is wise to see how Jesus used these verses in his own life.

Matthew writes, “Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

He will command his angels concerning you,
and On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’

“Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ (Matthew 4.5-7)

There are two extremely important principles to learn from Jesus, as we consider this Psalm.

(1) Everything is dependent on living in an abiding relationship of trust with the Father. This is a relationship of trust, where we follow God’s guidance and direction.

(2) We must not tempt God through irresponsible behavior.

Reminder #3

The Psalm ends with another reminder to base our lives and security in a loving relationship with God.

Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.
(Psalm 91.14-16).

Jesus connected our living in an abiding relationship with him to answered prayer.

He said this about answered prayer: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15.7).

Jesus also taught about remaining in God’s love. He said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15.9-10).

Let’s follow Jesus’ example and teaching. That is clearly the best and safest way to live.

May we Pray for You?

The prayer team at Maywood Baptist is honored to pray for you. Please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and ask the team to pray, too.

4 Comments

  1. I’ve been trying to figure out how to say what’s in my head. I thought about this yesterday as well.

    When I read the “claims” for these verses on Facebook as you’ve mentioned, my first thought is “but our ultimate goal is Heaven…” I don’t want to get sick. And I don’t want to die. I enjoy life here – and I want to see the future with my family and friends here. I don’t want my family to be affected by covid. Nor my friends. Or neighbors. I pray the whole pandemic just go away. However, I’m assured of a spot in Heaven and what I know of God, Heaven must be very, very good!

    But more than the thought of illness, I want my family, my friends, my neighbors to turn to God. To understand and live a Jesus-kind-of-life. To rely daily, moment-by-moment on God’s plans. So if pandemic brings about deep, lasting life-change does that alter our view of this world crisis?

    As you point out, Pastor Bob, the key to life is our relationship with God. Our security and safety come from being in His will. I have no doubt that God can, in this moment, with His next breath, heal every hospitalized covid patient, repair every damaged lung, remove all traces of this disease from our world. But would people recognize His power? Or would they be like the Israelites and turn to Him briefly…only to moan and complain over another perceived injustice next week?

    I don’t have answers to most of these thoughts, other than to say my choice in talking to God about this Psalm and other scriptures is to just ask God for daily guidance. For the next steps in His will fir me, for my family. For how my life can matter in His kingdom. I do ask for a miracle, but I ask for it in His will and timing because He knows all, sees all and is perfect.

    We can’t let one or two verses derail us from His bigger picture. From His ultimate purpose. From Heaven.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Denise, I am thankful that you use the phrase “Jesus-kind-of-life,” that I picked up from Dallas Willard. If we are living that kind of life, everything is as good as it can be. We will have his best on earth and be ready for heaven.

    May God bless every aspect of your life today.

    Like

  3. I have come to love and appreciate that Dallas Willard phrase from your blog series. I apparently use it often with our Wednesday group because as I start typing “Jesus” my predictive text suggests the phrase. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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