Promises of Psalm 91



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  • Promises of Psalm 91

    In March of 2020, a New Zealand megachurch pastor Brian Tamaki of Destiny Church claimed Christians are protected from Coronavirus 2019-nCoV while quoting Psalm 91. Tamaki told his congregation that God allows things such as “epidemics, pestilence and famine” when people have turned their backs on the faith. He went on to say since Satan and his demonic spirits control the “atmospheres,” where diseases like the Coronavirus live and spread, only those who are truly walking with the Lord can be protected. He told his followers to ignore Coronavirus panic as evidenced by the stockpiling of basic supplies like food and toilet paper.

    Is the concern about the virus spreading a faithless rampant fear and confusion? Facing valid stats related to the Coronavirus and fear-mongering are two different paths, the two need not cross. Psalm 91 often called the "soldier's psalm" is the most search scripture on Google, because it sounds fantastic. "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ...Though 1,000 fall at your side and 10,000 at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent."

    There are even books that go so far as to turn Psalm 91 into “God's Covenant of Protection” for believers. It's practically a cottage industry, like Chicken Soup for the Soul. The premise is you just need to "join the covenant" by loving and serving God and all the threats listed in Psalm 91 will be neutralized. Many people believe in Psalm 91 like this. Really, it's not surprising if you remember how many people believed in "the blessing power of praying 1 Chronicles 4:10" when the Prayer of Jabez book came out full of anecdotal evidence in support of it. It's okay with me if some Charismatic veins read Psalm 91 allegorically and find comfort in that but please understand that this method is nowhere near as accurate as the historical-grammatical method of interpretation.

    The allegorical, symbolic, or spiritualizing method of interpretation was prominent in the church for about 1,000 years until it was displaced during the Reformation. The Reformers sought the “plain meaning” of Scripture, not the mystical. We need to recognize that allegory is a beautiful and legitimate literary device. John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress was written as an allegory of the Christian life. In this story, almost every action and character is intended to have a deeper, spiritual meaning. To interpret Bunyan’s story literally would be to miss the point completely.

    The problem with the allegorical method of interpretation is that it seeks to find an allegorical interpretation for every passage of Scripture, regardless of whether or not it is intended to be understood in that way. Interpreters who allegorize can be very creative, with no control based in the text itself. It becomes easy to read one’s own beliefs into the allegory and then think that they have scriptural support. This is the main reason I cannot embrace the theology of the charismatic mainstream, where it leans largely on allegorical interpretation which is rife with errors.

    No matter how many positive testimonies of Psalm 91 protection there may be, you can find plenty more examples of Christians who have had tragedy touch their lives. You don't even have to look further than own family history for sad examples. Christians don't universally enjoy "long life" or freedom from attacks or accidents. Quite the contrary. In fact, many Christians end up losing their faith because they blindly trusted in Psalm 91 and other abused "promises of God in the Bible" as a golden chalice of protection. The consensus of the Bible is that God does not “promise” us an “umbrella of protection” from trouble. Daniel's three friends certainly knew this.

    Psalm 91 is in part a Messianic prophecy, particularly upon reading its second half. It is offering the believer a metaphor for spiritual protection, not merely physical protection. Psalm 91 should never be construed as a pledge of unqualified physical protection to all believers for all time in all circumstances. The best-qualified understanding of the passage is except that God in His love and wisdom allows it for the ultimate good… no evil will befall me, nor will any plague come near my tent. Soli Deo Gloria!

  • #2
    Reformer Martin Luther's advice to the church during times of plague (written during the bubonic plague)

    "When anyone is overcome by horror and repugnance in the presence of a sick person he should take courage and strength in the firm assurance that it is the devil who stirs up such abhorrence, fear, and loathing in his heart. He is such a bitter, knavish devil that he not only unceasingly tries to slay and kill, but also takes delight in making us deathly afraid, worried, and apprehensive so that we should regard dying as horrible and have no rest or peace all through our life. And so the devil would excrete us out of this life as he tries to make us despair of God, become unwilling and unprepared to die, and, under the stormy and dark sky of fear and anxiety, make us forget and lose Christ, our light and life, and desert our neighbor in his troubles. We would sin thereby against God and man; that would be the devil’s glory and delight. Because we know that it is the devil’s game to induce such fear and dread, we should in turn minimize it, take such courage as to spite and annoy him, and send those terrors right back to him...

    Others sin on the right hand. They are much too rash and reckless, tempting God and disregarding everything which might counteract death and the plague. They disdain the use of medicines; they do not avoid places and persons infected by the plague, but lightheartedly make sport of it and wish to prove how independent they are. They say that it is God’s punishment; if he wants to protect them he can do so without medicines or our carefulness. This is not trusting God but tempting him. God has created medicines and provided us with intelligence to guard and take good care of the body so that we can live in good health.

    If one makes no use of intelligence or medicine when he could do so without detriment to his neighbor, such a person injures his body and must beware lest he become a suicide in God’s eyes. By the same reasoning a person might forego eating and drinking, clothing and shelter, and boldly proclaim his faith that if God wanted to preserve him from starvation and cold, he could do so without food and clothing. Actually that would be suicide. It is even more shameful for a person to pay no heed to his own body and to fail to protect it against the plague the best he is able, and then to infect and poison others who might have remained alive if he had taken care of his body as he should have. He is thus responsible before God for his neighbor’s death and is a murderer many times over. Indeed, such people behave as though a house were burning in the city and nobody were trying to put the fire out. Instead they give leeway to the flames so that the whole city is consumed, saying that if God so willed, he could save the city without water to quench the fire."

    Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 43: Devotional Writings II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 43, p. 127). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.


    • #3
      John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

      I do love Psalm 91 though


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