When Satan was tempting Jesus in the wilderness he attempted to use Psalm 91 to lure Jesus into testing the faithfulness of God. Satan wanted Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the temple to force God to prove his faithful love and care for his Son. Jesus answered Satan by declaring that he would not put the Lord God to the test.
Psalm 91:11-12 does indeed say, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Surely if this is in the text, we can rely on it happening. Surely God would not make a promise he does not intend to keep, or perhaps Satan is simply the king of proof-texting. As we take a quick tour of Psalm 91 we find that Satan truly is a deceiver and God’s faithfulness is our greatest comfort.
The first verse sets the tone for the entire Psalm. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Eight verses later we also read, “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place, the Most High, who is my refuge.” Our confidence, hope, comfort and security are firmly in place as we seek to dwell in the shelter of God. These are beautiful thoughts indeed. Between these two verses we are told what those who faithfully abide in God can face. The terror of the night and the arrows of the day (vs. 5). The pestilence that stalks in darkness and the destruction that wastes at noonday (vs.6). Thousands and ten thousands falling all around you (vs. 7).
And then vs. 8-9, “You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place, the Most High, who is my refuge.” No matter what we go through in this world, the faithful children of God will never be separated from his love and care. The last verses of the psalm show that those who hold fast to God, who know his name, and call to him, will find answers and honor and salvation. Not once does this Psalm say that the faithful can only be faithful if God proves himself to them. The very essence of being faithful is to trust God in every situation in which you find yourself. This is what it means to dwell in Him. We can trust that the God of the universe has the power and will to protect those who call upon his name and live in faith. Further to this, no matter what happens, God will rightly judge the wicked.
In reality, we could lose everything including our mortal lives and still be protected by the eternal God. This is what Paul tells us when he says that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Christ, God’s children are eternally protected and guarded, and Satan is powerless to break it. Jesus was already enjoying the faithful care of the Father right there on the roof of the temple. He did not need to jump in a faithless act to prove it. Satan however is a wicked, proof-texting liar and Jesus has directly looked into his eyes knowing his eternal recompense. Perhaps it is very fitting that Psalm 91:13 states that one of two creatures being trampled is a serpent. Satan’s use of this Psalm is pointed back at him.
For us in Christ it always means this: God is faithful! You can take that to the eternal bank! You can tell the Tempter to go and throw himself from the roof. He will have no salvation. Your salvation, however, is firmly in the one who endured this test to take your place on a cross.