Psalm 91 is the second most popular psalm thanks to its powerful description of God's supernatural protection which most read as promises for everyday Christian life. Yet Psalm 91 never says it is a promise for a universal audience and what it does say is very specific and parallel to end times prophecy. It describes God protecting only the faithful from extreme conditions in one "secret place." Find out the place's location from how Psalm 91 lines up with the "beginning of birth pains" end time prophecy of Jesus, Revelation and Joel.
Why is Psalm 91 the #2 Favorite Psalm Among Christians?
To say Psalm 91 is one of the Bible's more popular psalms is an understatement. It's actually the number two psalm (of course after the beloved "The Lord is my Shepherd" Psalm 23). At least as judged by the suggestions Google offers when you type "psalm " in search:
If you don't know why it is so popular already, all you need to do is consider just a few of its sixteen verses:
Psalm 91 — 1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ... 7 Though 1,000 fall at your side and 10,000 at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. ... 16 With long life I will satisfy him...
Wow! Where do I sign up, right?
It's obvious why Christians like it so much. It describes some very desirable protection given to those God says he knows intimately. It seems to almost offer this very protection to anyone who decides to "dwell" close to the Almighty.
Promises For Any, For Now?
That's really the key to why this psalm is so popular. Christians read it as a book of promises of protection for them today.
For this reason Psalm 91 is known as the "soldier's psalm." Military men often bring a wallet-sized copy of Psalm 91 during their deployment. Mom's pray Psalm 91 daily over their children serving in the military or working in dangerous professions like law enforcement or firefighting. You can find many testimonials online about how professing Psalm 91 has kept people safe whether it be during the Vietnam War or modern wars like in in the Middle East.
There are even books that go so far as to turn Psalm 91 into “God's Covenant of Protection” for believers or “the covenant that we have with God if we love and serve Him.” A pastor from Texas has a series of over a dozen books all on Psalm 91. Psalm 91 for children; one for mothers; another for military; others for youth and for kids. It's practically a cottage industry, like Chicken Soup for the Soul. The premise is you just need to "join the covenant" by loving and serving God and all the threats listed in Psalm 91 will be neutralized.
If this is the first time you've heard this, it probably sounds exaggerated or fringe. But I'm not making this up. Many people believe in Psalm 91 like this. Really, it's not surprising if you remember how many people believed in "the blessing power of praying 1 Chronicles 4:10" when the Prayer of Jabez book came out full of anecdotal evidence in support of it.
Back to Reality and (Clear) Scripture
It's OK with me if you or others read Psalm 91 allegorically and find comfort in that. I don't judge. Just please understand that this view does not work everyone. Especially when someone steps back from this fantasy view (which I admit we'd all love to be true) and look at it objectively and sensibly.
(If you are a big believer in the "Psalm 91 protection covenant," you may want to skip the rest of this section to avoid hearing my reasons why I don't view Psalm 91 as you do. I don't wish to be a downer or buzzkill by taking away any comforting belief you need to hold onto.)
No matter how many positive testimonies of Psalm 91 protection there may be, you can find plenty more examples of Christians who have had tragedy touch their lives. I would bet you don't even have to look further than own family history for sad examples. Christians don't universally get "long life" or freedom from attacks or accidents. Quite the contrary. In fact, many Christians end up losing their faith because they trusted in Psalm 91 and other so-called "promises of God in the Bible" because other (actual) promises of the Bible happened to them instead...
I'm talking about promises like:
John 16:33 — “In this life you shall have tribulation” - (Jesus)
Psalm 34:19 — Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Acts 14:22 — Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
(By the way, do you see the clear general-promise-to-all language in these verses? If you read Psalm 91 carefully you won't find anything like that. To turn Psalm 91's verses into promises you must ignore that context...)
The fact is that the Bible shows God lets the saints have some pretty catastrophic things happen to them. Those who know their Bible well realize that if Psalm 91 was meant as a divine unchangeable promise like that, not only is it silent about that, but Bible heroes like David and Paul sure were ignorant of it, too. Their lives were full of suffering and trials at the same time that they also had clear guidance and help of God. God was with them in everything.
The consensus of the Bible is that God does not “promise” us an “umbrella of protection” from trouble. Daniel's three friends knew this. They told Nebuchadnezzar “God is able to deliver us but even if he doesn't, we will not serve your gods” (Dan 3:17-18). Psalm 91 is a good reminder of exactly what Daniel's three friends knew: God is able to deliver us and he may in specific cases, quite impressively.
But in probably most cases God does not keep us from trouble. Why? Because it's not best for us and our development to do so. If it was good enough for Jesus to learn obedience by the things he suffered (Heb 5:8), then how much more will suffering teach us?
Radical New View of Psalm 91: A Very Specific Prophecy
What is Psalm 91 about if it's not a metaphor about divine general protection for all people of all times? Well, what if this psalm means exactly what it says about protection from extreme elements, but in a specific one-time future scenario?
In other words, what if Psalm 91, like many of the psalms is a prophecy? (E.g., Psalm 83) A very specific prophecy of an event in one place and one point in time.
With my breakthroughs on understanding end time prophecy literally, that's exactly what I saw in the plain text of Psalm 91 when I reread recently it after many years.
“These Are Just the Beginning of Birth Pains” - Jesus (Mt 24:8)
Those of you familiar with my book and articles may already know where I'm headed (but you will still want to come along for the ride, trust me!).
Jesus warned believers and everyone (Mark 13:37 – no, not "just the Jews"!) about "the end" because we would be here on earth for it. He named those events kicking off the end "beginning of birth pains" (Mt 24:8). But most Christians have never heard of them, let alone have a clue as to what they are. Here's a quick overview:
- Birth Pain #1: WWIII "kingdom vs. kingdom" (Luke 21:10=Mt 24:7)
- Birth Pain #2: Wormwood: Earthquakes, terrors in space and earth (Luke 21:11=Mt 24:7=Rev 6:12,8:13=Joel 2:30)
- Birth Pain #3: TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it): Weak sunlight, cold and famine (Rev 8:13), pestilence (Rev 8:7=Lk 21:11), loss of infrastructure including shelter, power, fresh water (Rev 8:11).
- Then the Antichrist and Great Tribulation. These are not birth pains, but rather what the birth pains directly lead to happening. The Antichrist comes to power as God and savior of the world (2Th 2:4).
How do we survive the above?
- Well, there is no pretrib rapture to save us (the rapture is the glorifying and ascension of the saints to Heaven) because the rapture happens "after the tribulation of those days" (Mt 24:29-31).
- Instead, a calling to a single safe place (Joel 2:32) is provided for the faithful (just professing Christ is not enough, it will take faith) along with all the help you need to get there (Rev 12:14=Ex 19:4).
- Mass gathering of millions of faithful (again, just a very small percentage of the billions of Christians) cannot happen without a prophetic leader to unify and lead everyone. Last time God raised up the prophet Moses to do it.
- Malachi promises Elijah "before the Great Dreadful day of the LORD” (Mal 4:5) teaching wisdom (Mal 4:6=Luke 1:17) just as Joel says God "calls" survivors to safety in Judea "before the Great Dreadful day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31-32). The linking of these two verses by the unique phrase hints that Elijah is the one who calls people both to repentance and to safety.
Let's analyze each verse of the psalm to see its direct parallels to the end time prophecy of birth pains and the protection from them that God has planned.
The Setting: "The Secret Place"
Reading the very first verse at face value is key to understanding the Psalm 91 properly:
Psalm 91 (NKJV) — 1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
This establishes the subject and setting. We're only talking about people who "dwell at the secret place of God." We may not yet know where or when this is, but we can be sure we're not talking about all people and all places because everyone is not close to God and there is only one "the secret place."
If you don't get this from the start, you won't be able to correctly read the rest of the verses that detail radical supernatural protection. You will be tempted to generalize or allegorize the whole psalm just as most Christians do. There is no need to do that as we will see it all makes sense at face value in the context of the "beginning of birth pains" prophecy of Jesus and Revelation.
Why We Need a Secret/Shelter Place: "Birth Pains"
As described above, the cataclysmic birth pains start the end time events. With no pretrib rapture, we will need a protected hiding place from them (and the outside survivors seeking to crash our party). We'll need "shelter" from WWIII, Wormwood (which probably happen within hours or days of each other) and the effects of both: earthquakes, death, cold, famine, plague, chaos and violence from the end of civilization. Here's a brief run through of the prophetic passages:
Matthew 24 (HCSB) 7 ...There will be famines and earthquakes in [all] places. 8 All these events are the beginning of birth pains.
Revelation 6 — 12 ...6th seal… A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black …moon became like blood 14 and every mountain and island was moved from its place. 17 …the great day…has come! And who is able to stand?” [A: Those in the secret place stand]
Joel 2 — 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood… 32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem…among the survivors [God] calls. [Mt. Zion is Judea/Jerusalem area]
Matthew 24 — 15 “So when you see the abomination that causes desolation… 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains! [Confirmation we are in Judea, because we are be moved from Judea through the mountains to Jordan before the Great Tribulation.]
Obviously you won't want to face these events outside the protection of "the secret place of the Most High." With all the Jewish settlements in Judea, it's easy to imagine another one for believers that is set up there. Like I already have said in other articles, location is one of several reasons you're not going to want to go there, especially coming from your comfortable home in America.
By the way, the dispute over Mt. Zion's exact location does not matter for this discussion. If you look at the verses above, you'll see the language is making Jerusalem equivalent to Mt. Zion and then Jesus refers to those gathered there as "in Judea." That tells us it's the Judea area which is one definition of Mt. Zion and a broader definition of Jerusalem. I doubt we'll be in Jerusalem city but clearly not far from there in Judea, which fits the one of the ways the Bible uses the term Mt. Zion to refer to an area, not exactly one mountain.
Psalm 91: The Human Threat
We see Psalm 91 also describe extreme, "end of the world" problems and threats:
Psalm 91 — 3 He Himself will deliver you from the hunter's net, from the destructive plague. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
We've already covered the effects of Wormwood: earthquake, grey skies, cold, plague, famine and Psalm 91:3 matches up with that. But the verses above also describe the human element by mentioning both hunters and arrows.
This other problem is easy to imagine if you have watched popular AMC series, The Walking Dead. After the protagonists of the show got a handle on the food and (zombie) plague complications, the greater threat became other ruthless survivors, including some cannibal tribes.
Divine "Force Field" Dome?
Look at the details of the protective covering God will provide:
Psalm 91 — 1. ... abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 4 He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. 8 You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked. 10 no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent.
Again, if we take this at face value, it's describing an end of the world situation where the earth is going through cataclysm and its chaotic aftermath. You will literally have thousands dying all around just outside your camp. What's most scary is that it says we'll see them. This means we won't be in a cave or some remote place. We'll be in a populated area where we can see thousands literally dying nearby. Yet we ourselves are safe a stone's throw away from them. How is this possible?
The best way I can think of to explain this is from a promo picture from the television show Under the Dome (based on the novel by Stephen King):
The language of the psalm throughout is describing a coverage of protection from God. Sounds like a dome shaped force field to me.
Angels will be on duty, too, literally.
Psalm 91 — 11 For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. 12 They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Angels have been seen in other times of catastrophe such as when Lot was saved, so this fits the scenario.
Psalm 91's People "Know God's Name"
One last stunningly specific aspect of Psalm 91's prophecy is this detail about the people who God is protecting:
Psalm 91 — 14 Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows My name. 15 When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.
The significance of "he knows my name" is easily lost on Christians because Christianity does not teach about God's name. God has a personal name in Hebrew. It is four letters long and appears 7000 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. God's prophets spoke in this name"(i.e. Thus saith YHVH") and Moses commanded the Israelites to make oaths only in God's name. Israelites referred to God by his personal name more than any other word, like Elohim/God or Adonai/Lord.
See my previous article to get up to speed God's "lost" name and its revival in end time prophecy. In brief, Judaism has influenced Christianity along with the whole world to not say God's name, and instead to replace it with euphemisms like "lord." Ironically, this has caused God's name to be unknown to the only people who believe in him and want to serve him and ought to know his name.
What this means is that Psalm 91:14 is a parallel to Joel 2:32. Joel tells us that those who God protects in the end times special place of Mt. Zion / Jerusalem / Judea will have been taught God's name so they can know it and call on it:
Joel 2:32 (HCSB) — Then everyone who calls on the name of Yehovah will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the LORD promised, among the survivors the LORD calls.
As this article and the previous article both argue, there won't be a revival of God's name nor a calling and gathering of God's (faithful) people to one place without one and the same thing: a serious prophet of God. Since Elijah is promised "before the day of the Lord" and Joel talks about someone "calling" people who "call on God's name" to safety "before the day of the Lord" my conclusion is Elijah is the one who will lead this revival and gathering.
Some who read this article thought I was denying God does the kind of protection described in Psalm 91 for people today or that I'm telling people to not pray for it. That's not what I'm saying.
God certainly does protect believers miraculously at times. Many testimonies attest to this and you can definitely pray and have hope for the same in your life, too. My point is when it does not happen and tragedy touches your life, don't be surprised or mad at God. Psalm 91 never promised total protection to you, today, always.
While writing this article, I remembered that Satan quoted from Psalm 91 in his temptation of Jesus and I wondered if someone would bring that up. Sure enough, somebody did. This person surprised me, though, by citing the passage as proof, "this psalm is more about Yahoshua (sic.) than a geographical location or a assembly of believers." Here's the passage:
Matthew 4:5-7 — 5 Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. 6 “If You are the Son of God, he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus replied, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
I don't see evidence there that Psalm 91 is about Jesus. Satan did not say, "Since Psalm 91 is about you..." which would have been a more powerful argument to make if it were true. Instead he said, "If you're the Son of God..." His obvious point was that since Psalm 91 states God will send angels to save regular people from death, then how much more the Son of God? You see, those who faithfully obey Elijah, leave home and go to the secret place have earned that rare, special status to be kept safe from all mortal dangers at that time. Jesus, as the son of God, also had that status all the time. God was not going to let anyone kill Jesus except and until the crucifixion on Passover day to fulfill the Passover lamb sacrifice prophecy. Satan argued that since the Son of God is someone God won't let be killed (just like those in Psalm 91's secret place), then Jesus ought to prove his identity by testing out God's "fall lifter angels." It was a clever appeal to ego, but it failed.
There is no disputing that Psalm 91 is an encouraging reminder of what God is able to do to protect his servants. A few Christians have experienced divine protection like it describes, with bullets or attackers being stopped abruptly.
However, too many Christians take Psalm 91 as a "covenant of divine protection" for all. This despite how it does not name a universal audience nor make any promises in it, like other passages (e.g. Ps 34:19). As such, although appealing, this view does not work for people who try to read Scripture at face value without adding to it.
What Psalm 91 does plainly say includes incredibly specific descriptions of specific extreme conditions and threats bringing death to tens of thousands of wicked people. It also gives a specific secret setting of protection for the righteous to survive at, who says "know God's name." These three points line up with the end time prophecy of Joel 2 about supernatural protection in Judea from Wormwood and its aftermath. This protection is also only for the faithful who got there by responding to the call of God's prophet call upon God's name, a name they know unlike Christians today.
In that context, Psalm 91's odd details like "ten thousand dying by your side" can now make perfect literal sense. They line up with the end time prophecy of God's plan of protection from the Wormwood catastrophe which will level the earth and kill most of the population.
For a complete literal understanding of all the key end time prophecies like this one, to support your comprehension and support my work writing these free articles, please get my book Know the Future.
Receive Tim's Prophecy Updates By Email
Join 30,000 subscribers receiving Tim's new articles and updates by email. Understanding Bible prophecy better will dispel your end time fear and bless you (Rev 1:3).
Tim is the author of this site (since 1999) and the book Know the Future that explains Revelation literally at last--including the key event of Wormwood (Rev 6-8). To read more from Tim and not miss a single new article, sign up for his free newsletter above.