Under His Wings
(1) He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (2) I will say of Yahweh, “(He is) my refuge and my shelter, my God in whom I trust,” (3) for he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, from the destructive pestilence. (4) He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you shall seek refuge. His truth (will be) your shield and buckler. (5) You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, (6) nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that lays waste at midday. (7) A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. (8) You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
This psalm opens with two groups of synonyms. First, we encounter several names of God: “most high” and “almighty” (vs. 1), “Yahweh” and “God” (Elohim) (vs. 2). Then we find several words describing the protection which God provides for those who trust in him: “secret place” and “shadow” (vs. 1), “refuge” and “shelter” (vs. 2).
The next six verses contain one repeated word, “pestilence” (vss. 3 & 6), and several other terms describing the dangers for which we need Yahweh’s protection: “snare of the fowler” (vs. 3), “terror” and “arrow” (vs. 5), and “destruction” (vs. 6). One more grouping of metaphors vividly describes that protection: “feathers and wings,” “shield and buckler” (vs. 4). Here Yahweh is pictured as a mother hen hovering over her chicks and his truth portrayed as a suit of armor that safeguards us from the attacks of the enemy.
I. Yahweh protects those who take refuge in him. (1 & 2)
II. He shields us from every threat of our enemies. (3-8)
When we take refuge in Yahweh, we find in him safe shelter from every threat of our enemies.
One night, lightning from a sudden storm set fire to several acres of a rancher’s spread in West Texas. Fortunately, none of his herd was trapped and killed by the flames. With the help of his neighbors, he managed to extinguish all hotspots before any structures on his property had been damaged. The next morning, he took a walk to survey the harm that had been done. In one place, he noticed an unusual mound that he could not identify by sight. With the toe of his boot, he gingerly overturned the shapeless mass and was amazed to see that it was the lifeless body of a mother quail, burned to crisp. Underneath were three small chicks, still alive and chirping. Hovering over them, she had sheltered them from the flames that had swept over them the previous night. Her self-sacrifice had saved their lives.
Later, in recounting that moment, the rancher, a man of faith, said that he had immediately thought of the verse in this psalm that promises, “He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you shall seek refuge.” He then said, “My thoughts quickly turned to the cross where the Son of God gave his life so that we might be sheltered from the wrath of God poured out because of our sins.” Isaiah captured this same idea in the following words: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Is. 53:5).
In 1896, William O. Cushing wrote the Gospel song, Under His Wings, based on Psalm 91:4. Its words remind us of the care and compassion of our loving God: “Under His wings I am safely abiding. / Though the night deepens and tempests are wild, / still I can trust him. I know he will keep me; / he has redeemed me, and I am his child. // Under his wings, under his wings, / who from his love can sever? / Under his wings, my soul shall abide, / safely abide forever.”