He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Verse 1. - He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High (comp. Psalm 90:1). He who has his thoughts always on God is said to "dwell in him" - to "make his abode with him" - to "sit down in his secret place." He has the Almighty, as it were, for his constant companion. Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. This is not "tautology." What is meant is that "loving faith on man's part shall be met by faithful love on God's part" (Kay). God will extend his "shadow" over the man who places himself under his protection.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Verse 2. - I will say of the Lord. The general sentiment is followed by a personal application. "I, at any rate," says the first speaker, "will place myself under this powerful protection." He is my Refuge and my Fortress (comp. Psalm 18:2; Psalm 144:2). My God; in him will I trust (comp. Psalm 29:2; Psalm 31:6; Psalm 55:23; Psalm 56:3; Psalm 61:4, etc.).
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
Verse 3. - Surely he shall deliver thee. The second speaker takes up the word, and naturally changes the person. Addressing the first speaker, he says - Yes, assuredly, God shall deliver thee from whatever dangers beset thee: as, first, from the snare of the fowler (comp. Psalm 124:7; Proverbs 6:5); and, secondly, from the noisome pestilence (comp. ver. 6), i.e. from all dangers whatsoever - not more from these than from others.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Verse 4. - He shall cover thee with his feathers; rather, with his pinions (see the Revised Version; comp. ver. 1; and see Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11). And under his wings shalt thou trust; rather, shalt thou take refuge. His truth - i.e. "his faithfulness, his fidelity" - shall be thy shield and buckler; i.e. "thy protection."
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Verse 5. - Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night. Robbers constituted the chief "terror by night" (see Job 24:14-16; Jeremiah 49:9; Obadiah 1:5); but night attacks on the part of a foreign enemy were not uncommon (Song of Solomon 3:8; Isaiah 15:1). Nor for the arrow that fleth by day. Open war is probably intended, not sirocco, or pestilence, or "the arrows of the Almighty" (Job 6:4). The man who trusts in God will be specially protected in the peril of battle.
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Verse 6. - Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness. The plague god is personified and represented as stalking through the land in the hours of darkness. Parallels have been found in the literature of the Babylonians (see 'Babylonian and Oriental Record,' vol. 1, p. 12) and elsewhere. Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. The rare word, קטב, translated "destruction" here and in Deuteronomy 32:24, is rendered by the LXX. διαμόνιον, and the entire phrase, "for the destruction that wasteth at noonday" becomes ἀπὸ συμπτώματος καὶ δαιμονίου μεσημβρινοῦ - "from ruin and the demon of the midday" - by which sunstroke would seem to be meant (comp. Psalm 121:6, "The sun shall not smite thee by day").
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Verse 7. - A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand. The meaning is, "Though a thousand, or even ten thousand, should fall beside thee, in battle, or through pestilence, or sunstroke," yet - It shall not come nigh thee - the danger, whatever it be, shall not touch thy person; thou shalt be protected from it.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Verse 8. - Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward (or, "the recompense") of the wicked; i.e. without suffering anything thyself, thou shalt look on, and see the punishment of the ungodly. So Israel in the land of Goshen "looked on," and saw the calamities of the Egyptians.
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
Verse 9. - Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my Refuge, even the Most High, thy Habitation; literally, for thou, O Lord, art my Refuge; thou hast made the Most High thy Dwelling place, which can scarcely be made to yield a tolerable sense. It is supposed that a word - אָמַרְתָּ- has dropped out, and that the verse originally ran thus: "Because thou hast said, Jehovah is my Refuge, and hast made the Most High thy Dwelling place" (comp. vers. l, 2). The second speaker for a second time addresses the first.
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
Verse 10. - There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. The faithful man is to be preserved from evil of every kind. His very "dwelling" is to be protected so that his family may suffer no hurt.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Verse 11. - For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (comp. Psalm 34:7). The faithful are under the constant care of angels (Hebrews 1:14), who guide them and direct them perpetually. Satan made a crafty use of this promise when he tempted our Lord (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10, 11). No doubt it applies to him pre-eminently, as the specially "Faithful One."
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Verse 12. - They shall bear thee up in their hands; rather, upon their hands - lifting thee over difficulties and stumbling blocks. Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone (comp. Proverbs 3:23, 24). Moral impediments are, no doubt, chiefly meant.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Verse 13. - Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder. Conquered enemies prostrated themselves before their conquerors, who, to mark the completeness of the subjection, placed a foot upon the prostrate form. From this practice the metaphor of "treading under foot" for conquering became a commonplace (see Psalm 7:5; Psalm 44:5; Psalm 55:12, etc.). The "lion" here represents all open and violent foes; the "adder," all secret and malignant ones. The young lion (kephir, the lion in the height of his strength) and the dragon (tannin, the most dreadful form of serpent) shalt thou trample under feet. An emphatic repetition, with a certain heightening of the colour.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
Verse 14. - Because he hath set his love upon me (see Deuteronomy 7:7; Deuteronomy 10:15). "By a sudden and effective transition," as Professor Cheyne remarks, "Jehovah becomes the speaker" of the concluding strophe. It is not enough that the faithful should encourage each other by their anticipations of God's coming mercies, God himself now speaks by the mouth of his prophet, and makes promises in his own Person. I will deliver him. A ratification of vers. 3, 7, 10-15. I will set him on high; i.e. "exalt him above his fellows" - "bring him to honour." Because he hath known my Name. "Knowing God's Name" is nearly equivalent to knowing him. It implies, besides knowledge, faith and trust in the Almighty.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
Verse 15. - He shall call upon me, and I will answer him. This is equivalent to, "Whenever he calls upon me, I will answer him," or "I will grant all his prayers." I will be with him in trouble (comp. Psalm 46:1). I will deliver him (see above, ver. 14). And honour him; or, "bring him to honour" (compare "I will set him on high," in the preceding verse).
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
Verse 16. - With long life (or, length of days) will I satisfy him. Length of days is always viewed in the Old Testament as a blessing, and a special reward for obedience (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; 2 Kings 20:6; 2 Chronicles 1:11; Psalm 21:4; Proverbs 3:2, 16, etc.). It is only in the New Testament that we learn how much "better" it is "to depart, and be with Christ" (Philippians 1:23). And show him my salvation (comp. Psalm 50:23); i.e. "make him experience what salvation is." "Salvation," as Professor Cheyne observes, "is both an act and a state" - an act on God's part, a state on man's.