My love for Psalm 23:4 at this time of walking through the valley of the shadow of death has inspired many dear readers to spiritually weigh in on the hope delivered to their broken souls by their favorite Psalms. Share your favorite Psalm of hope in a time of fear and I will share it with everyone.
This week, M, from Wilmington, N.C., writes in about her love of Psalm 91, (KJV) It is a good and timely choice with its references to, “the noisome pestilence.” and “the pestilence that walketh in darkness.”
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and seethe reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath 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 honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”
Dear Rabbi Gellman: I read your column on Saturdays in the Wilmington, N.C., Star News. This week you quoted from the 23rd Psalm. What I don’t understand is why Psalm 91 has never been put forth in print and/or on the airways at this time of fear and trepidation. It’s God’s plan of protection for mankind for all things that assault us, and it offers hope and freedom from fear. I don’t think anything short of nuclear war has struck such terror into the hearts of humankind as has this global pandemic. While I do blame the media for whipping us into a frenzy and fomenting panic, I know that the threat is very real and very dangerous. But I personally am not fearful. Here’s why:
Several years ago, while browsing through a book sale, I picked up a book entitled, Psalm 91, God’s Shield of Protection and it changed my life. Leafing through the first few pages, I read accounts of a whole platoon saved in battle because of this Psalm, of a pocket Bible stopping a bullet at chest level right at Verse 7 ... and I was captivated. Since that time I have prayed Psalm 91 every single day of my life — it covers everything in one way or another: terror, war, destruction, trouble, the enemy and of course Pestilence and Plague which is what we’re in the midst of at this moment. My husband and I have said this Psalm together prior to several potential life changing events and I have learned through this Psalm that faith is not a tool to manipulate God into giving you something you want. Faith is simply the means by which we accept what God has already made available.
Sensing your gentle nature and your quickness to respond to your writers, I am sending you this long email in hopes that you will recommend Psalm 91 to your readers. I realize that God doesn’t promise us lollipops and rainbows, but He does promise peace and freedom from fear to those who believe. — M.
A: I am not that gentle, and I am not that quick, but be assured that I am eternally grateful for the chance to spend my life doing God’s work in a wounded world.
Thank you, dear M, for your reading of Psalm 91. I hope to bring other Psalm lovers together in the weeks ahead.
Send questions and comment to The God Squad via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman.
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