Verses 9–16

Here are more promises to the same purport with those in the Ps. 91:1-8, and they are exceedingly great and precious, and sure to all the seed.

I. The psalmist assures believers of divine protection, from his own experience; and that which he says is the word of God, and what we may rely upon. Observe, 1. The character of those who shall have the benefit and comfort of these promises; it is much the same with that, Ps. 91:1. They are such as make the Most High their habitation (Ps. 91:9), as are continually with God and rest in him, as make his name both their temple and their strong tower, as dwell in love and so dwell in God. It is our duty to be at home in God, to make our choice of him, and then to live our life in him as our habitation, to converse with him, and delight in him, and depend upon him; and then it shall be our privilege to be at home in God; we shall be welcome to him as a man to his own habitation, without any let, hindrance, or molestation, from the arrests of the law or the clamours of conscience; then too we shall be safe in him, shall be kept in perfect peace, Isa. 26:3. To encourage us to make the Lord our habitation, and to hope for safety and satisfaction in him, the psalmist intimates the comfort he had had in doing so: “He whom thou makest thy habitation is my refuge; and I have found him firm and faithful, and in him there is room enough, and shelter enough, both for thee and me.” In my father’s house there are many mansions, one needs not crowd another, much less crowd out another. 2. The promises that are sure to all those who have thus made the Most High their habitation. (1.) That, whatever happens to them, nothing shall hurt them (Ps. 91:10): “There shall no evil befal thee; though trouble or affliction befal thee, yet there shall be no real evil in it, for it shall come from the love of God and shall be sanctified; it shall come, not for thy hurt, but for thy good; and though, for the present, it be not joyous but grievous, yet, in the end, it shall yield so well that thou thyself shalt own no evil befel thee. It is not an evil, an only evil, but there is a mixture of good in it and a product of good by it. Nay, not thy person only, but thy dwelling, shall be taken under the divine protection: There shall no plague come nigh that, nothing to do thee or thine any damage.” Nihil accidere bono viro mali potest—No evil can befal a good man. Seneca Deut. Providentia. (2.) That the angels of light shall be serviceable to them, Ps. 91:11, 12. This is a precious promise, and speaks a great deal both of honour and comfort to the saints, nor is it ever the worse for being quoted and abused by the devil in tempting Christ, Matt. 4:6. Observe, [1.] The charge given to the angels concerning the saints. He who is the Lord of the angels, who gave them their being and gives laws to them, whose they are and whom they were made to serve, he shall give his angels a charge over thee, not only over the church in general, but over every particular believer. The angels keep the charge of the Lord their God; and this is the charge they receive from him. It denotes the great care God takes of the saints, in that the angels themselves shall be charged with them, and employed for them. The charge is to keep thee in all thy ways; here is a limitation of the promise: They shall keep thee in thy ways, that is, “as long as thou keepest in the way of thy duty;” those that go out of that way put themselves out of God’s protection. This word the devil left out when he quoted the promise to enforce a temptation, knowing how much it made against him. But observe the extent of the promise; it is to keep thee in all thy ways: even where there is no apparent danger yet we need it, and where there is the most imminent danger we shall have it. Wherever the saints go the angels are charged with them, as the servants are with the children. [2.] The care which the angels take of the saints, pursuant to this charge: They shall bear thee up in their hands, which denotes both their great ability and their great affection. They are able to bear up the saints out of the reach of danger, and they do it with all the tenderness and affection wherewith the nurse carries the little child about in her arms; it speaks us helpless and them helpful. They are condescending in their ministrations; they keep the feet of the saints, lest they dash them against a stone, lest they stumble and fall into sin and into trouble. [3.] That the powers of darkness shall be triumphed over by them (Ps. 91:13): Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder. The devil is called a roaring lion, the old serpent, the red dragon; so that to this promise the apostle seems to refer in that (Rom. 16:20), The God of peace shall tread Satan under your feet. Christ has broken the serpent’s head, spoiled our spiritual enemies (Col. 2:15), and through him we are more than conquerors; for Christ calls us, as Joshua called the captains of Israel, to come and set our feet on the necks of vanquished enemies. Some think that this promise had its full accomplishment in Christ, and the miraculous power which he had over the whole creation, healing the sick, casting out devils, and particularly putting it into his disciples’ commission that they should take up serpents, Mark 16:18. It may be applied to that care of the divine Providence by which we are preserved from ravenous noxious creatures (the wild beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee, Job 5:23); nay, and have ways and means of taming them, Jas. 3:7.

II. He brings in God himself speaking words of comfort to the saints, and declaring the mercy he had in store for them, Ps. 91:14-16. Some make this to be spoken to the angels as the reason of the charge given them concerning the saints, as if he had said, “Take care of them, for they are dear to me, and I have a tender concern for them.” And now, as before, we must observe,

1. To whom these promises do belong; they are described by three characters:—(1.) They are such as know God’s name. His nature we cannot fully know; but by his name he has made himself known, and with that we must acquaint ourselves. (2.) They are such as have set their love upon him; and those who rightly know him will love him, will place their love upon him as the only adequate object of it, will let out their love towards him with pleasure and enlargement, and will fix their love upon him with a resolution never to remove it to any rival. (3.) They are such as call upon him, as by prayer keep up a constant correspondence with him, and in every difficult case refer themselves to him.

2. What the promises are which God makes to the saints. (1.) That he will, in due time, deliver them out of trouble: I will deliver him (Ps. 91:14 and again Ps. 91:15), denoting a double deliverance, living and dying, a deliverance in trouble and a deliverance out of trouble. If God proportions the degree and continuance of our troubles to our strength, if he keeps us from offending him in our troubles, and makes our death our discharge, at length, from all our troubles, then this promise is fulfilled. See Ps. 34:19; 2 Tim. 3:11; 4:18. (2.) That he will, in the mean time, be with them in trouble, Ps. 91:15. If he does not immediately put a period to their afflictions, yet they shall have his gracious presence with them in their troubles; he will take notice of their sorrows, and know their souls in adversity, will visit them graciously by his word and Spirit, and converse with them, will take their part, will support and comfort them, and sanctify their afflictions to them, which will be the surest token of his presence with them in their troubles. (3.) That herein he will answer their prayers: He shall call upon me; I will pour upon him the spirit of prayer, and then I will answer, answer by promises (Ps. 85:8), answer by providences, bringing in seasonable relief, and answer by graces, strengthening them with strength in their souls (Ps. 138:3); thus he answered Paul with grace sufficient, 2 Cor. 12:9. (4.) That he will exalt and dignify them: I will set him on high, out of the reach of trouble, above the stormy region, on a rock above the waves, Isa. 33:16. They shall be enabled, by the grace of God, to look down upon the things of this world with a holy contempt and indifference, to look up to the things of the other world with a holy ambition and concern; and then they are set on high. I will honour him; those are truly honourable whom God puts honour upon by taking them into covenant and communion with himself and designing them for his kingdom and glory, John 12:26. (5.) That they shall have a sufficiency of life in this world (Ps. 91:16): With length of days will I satisfy him; that is, [1.] They shall live long enough: they shall be continued in this world till they have done the work they were sent into this world for and are ready for heaven, and that is long enough. Who would wish to live a day longer than God has some work to do, either by him or upon him? [2.] They shall think it long enough; for God by his grace shall wean them from the world and make them willing to leave it. A man may die young, and yet die full of days, satur dierum—satisfied with living. A wicked worldly man is not satisfied, no, not with long life; he still cries, Give, give. But he that has his treasure and heart in another world has soon enough of this; he would not live always. (6.) That they shall have an eternal life in the other world. This crowns the blessedness: I will show him my salvation, show him the Messiah (so some); good old Simeon was then satisfied with long life when he could say, My eyes have seen thy salvation, nor was there any greater joy to the Old-Testament saints than to see Christ’s day, though at a distance. It is more probably that the word refers to the better country, that is, the heavenly, which the patriarchs desired and sought: he will show him that, bring him to that blessed state, the felicity of which consists so much in seeing that face to face which we here see through a glass darkly; and, in the mean time, he will give him a prospect of it. All these promises, some think, point primarily at Christ, and had their accomplishment in his resurrection and exaltation.