What Is the Meaning of Psalm 91?

Psalm 91 is a poem, composed by either Moses or David, that imparts a confidence in the safety provided by God to the reader. Some consider Psalm 91 to be a Messianic prophecy, particularly upon reading its second half.

Verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 91 portray God as a shadow and a fortress to which his servants can go to seek rest and protection, respectively. Verses 3 and 4 compare God’s servant to a bird that can be trapped by a hunter. The psalm uses a hunter’s trap to explain how different problems, such as sickness, can make a person feel. However, the psalm explains that God can figuratively free a person from such a trap. Verse 4 particularly compares God to a larger bird that protects its young with its wings. Verses 5 through 10 expand on the challenges that God promises to save its servants from, including sickness, war and persecution by the wicked.

Verses 11 through 13 explain that God delegates the task of protecting his servants to his angels. The protection these angels allow servants of God to overcome the influence of Satan, represented by a lion and a serpent. Matthew 4:6 applies this passage to Jesus Christ, which causes some readers to see all of Psalm 91 as a message from God to the Messiah. The final verses, 14 to 16, are interpreted to be spoken by God himself. These verses are a final declaration that God hears the prayers of his servants and is willing to protect those who trust in him.