I remember clinging to Psalm 91 while our family lived in China back in 1995 as if it was oxygen giving me my next breath. Our youngest daughter Kelly, just three at the time, battled many strange illnesses while we lived in Beijing, and I was often consumed with fear for her safety. I read and prayed Psalm 91 over her so often that I ended up memorizing it without even trying.
Years later we learned that Kelly’s in-laws prayed the same psalm over our son-in-law Cal when he was a newborn with viral meningitis. What a gift to know that Kelly’s future husband was being prayed over with the same promises from Psalm 91 when he was just a baby.
I see Psalm 91:1 as our 911 promise of rescue: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Some call Psalm 91 the soldier’s song, as many have prayed it over their loved ones in the armed forces when they’re deployed. Others see it as a warfare psalm, teaching us how to fight the good fight against the enemy of our souls. Though no author is mentioned in the Hebrew text of this psalm, Jewish tradition ascribes it to Moses as he wrote Psalm 90, while others say David wrote it—a mighty warrior himself.
Regardless of who wrote it, I know it was inspired by our Most High, Almighty God. It’s a psalm filled with the wonder of the different names of God, and it declares His protection over us again and again. If you’re a Baby Boomer like I am, memorize this psalm while you can still remember things, and pray it over your grandchildren. Or if you’re a young mom, pray it when fear grips your heart for your little ones.
Just in the first two verses we see four majestic names of our God:
Most High (El Elyon in Hebrew, which means the Highest of the high),
Almighty (El Shaddai, which means God of the Mountains in Hebrew),
LORD (Yahweh, built on the word for “I am” in Hebrew),
God (Elohim, most commonly used word for God in Hebrew).
How beautiful to know that “Whoever dwells in the shelter of El Elyon, will rest in the shadow of El Shaddai. I will say of Yahweh, he is my refuge and fortress, my Elohim in whom I trust” (vv. 1–2).
Recently, God used this same psalm to comfort my questioning heart about my father’s suffering at the end of his life. Soon after his death, I was dwelling in Psalm 91 one early morning, God showed me that He never left my father in the midst of his suffering. As I read the last two verses, it was as if He was saying, “Judy, even in the midst of his groaning death, I was ‘with him in trouble, I delivered him and honored him, and with long life I satisfied him and showed him my salvation’”(vv. 15–16).
Do you see what God did there? Decades after He calmed my young mom’s fearful heart for my toddler, He used the same promises to comfort my grieving heart for my father.
There’s a verse in Psalm 119 that says: “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.”
That is my story.
May it be the same for you.
No matter what you are going through right now . . . cling to His Word.
Hide it in your heart and mind.
Pray it over your babies and toddlers . . . or pray it over your grandbabies and grand-toddlers . . . and over your aging parents.
And, just like He’s done for me for decades, may God use His promises—written thousands of years ago—to bring hope and comfort to your frightened or grieving hearts.
If you’d like a prayer written by my father, Mark Bubeck, based on Psalm 91, please subscribe to this blog and I will email it to you! Or if you’re already subscribed, just send me a message through this website requesting the prayer, and I will email it to you.
What about you? How has God “preserved your life” through His Word? Or, please share some favorite verses that you have prayed over your loved ones when fear threatens to overtake you.
(This post was updated and reposted during COVID-19)