Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Psalms 91-93

Psa 91.1-16 is a psalm that teaches us that the righteous are always safe under the protection of of Yehovah. This is not a promise that applies in every instance to every believer because we know that bad things happen to the righteous, but this is a general statement expressing God’s protection and care over his people. There is no title or author given but there are some who believe it was written by Moses, while others believe it was written by David after the plague of 2 Sam 24. It is read on the Sabbath and Rosh Ha Shannah, and the Jewish interpretation believes that this psalm is about the Messiah (Pesiqta Rabbati 162a) which states that the Messiah will manifest himself standing on “the roof” (pinnacle) of the Temple.

Psa 91.1-4 begins with the idea of God’s protection. This idea is brought out by this concept. All the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are present in this psalm except for the letter ‘Zayin” which literally means “weapon.” The belief is whoever recites this psalm with emunah (faith, confidence) and sincerity has no need for conventional weapons in spiritual warfare. Those who dwell in the secret place (covert place) of the Most High will (future) abide (live) in the shadow (shade, protection) of the almighty (El Shaddai). Yehovah has a secret place for his people (Psa 27.5, 31.10) where they are protected (v 1). We will say to Yehovah, “My refuge and my fortress (a shield against attacks), my God (Elohim/power), in whom I trust. For it is the Lord who delivers us from the snare of the trapper (evil devices), and from the deadly pestilence that causes destruction (v 3). He will cover us with his pinions (wings-“evrahto” or feathers) and under his wings (kanaf) we will have refuge; his truth (Torah) is a shield (zinah) and bulwork (armor). The numerical value of “pinions” (evrahto) is 613, the number of Torah commands according to scholars. The zayin resembles an arm (Deut 33.2) which is an idiom for Messiah (Isa 53.1). The Torah is also a bulwork which is God’s truth and shield, a weapon for those who study it according to Paul in 2 Cor 10.4 (v 4).

Psa 91.5-10 tells us about what happens under God’s protection. We will not be afraid of the destruction that could come during the night or day (v 5), or the plague that stalks us in the darkness and gloom of cold weather, or the destruction that lays waste at noon, meaning broad daylight. All types of destruction can come at anytime (v 6). A thousand may fall at our side, and ten thousand at our right hand, but it will not approach us. God’s protection is so specific that he can preserve us no matter what the odds (v 7). We will only look on with our eyes and see the reward of the wicked. However, Lot could not look on the destruction of the wicked who spurned God in Sodom, and here is the concept. Only a person who is saved by his own repentance is granted the privilege of witnessing the downfall of his enemies. Lot was spared because of the prayers of Abraham who interceded for him so he could not look towards Sodom and witness the suffering that he deserved to share (v 8). The believer has made Yehovah, who is the author’s refuge. the Most High, their dwelling place in their heart, mind, soul and spirit (v 9). No evil will befall them, nor any plague come near their households. Again, this is not a promise that applies in every instance with every believer because we know that bad things happen to the righteous. This psalm is a general statement expressing God’s protection and care over his people (v 10).

Psa 91.11-13 repeats the above promises and protection. He will give his angels charge concerning us, and will guard us in all our ways as long as those ways are consistent with the the Torah and God’s ways (v 11). They will bear us up in their hand, carrying us over all obstacles before we even get to them (“lest you strike your foot against a stone”). This verse was quoted by Ha Satan to Yeshua, tempting Yeshua to create an issue by jumping off the pinnacle of the Temple so that the angels would come to save him in Matt 4.5-7. Some believe the pinnacle (winglet) of the Temple was the southeast corner of the Temple compound called Solomon’s Portico, overlooking the Kidron Valley. Josephus has an interesting description in Antiquities, Book 15, Chapter 11, verse 5. There are others who believe it was the southwest corner (v 15). The righteous will also tread upon the large, mature lion (open violence) and cobra (secret malice). The young lion and the serpent will be trampled down (to have little regard for). This concept can also bee seen in Mark 16.18 (v 13).

Psa 91.14-16 now has Yehovah himself speaking and he talks about the blessings the believer has “because he has loved (yearned) me and therefore I (Yehovah) will deliver (“calve” or free) him from all of the attacks of the enemy. God will set him on high (elevate) because he has known (“Yada”-Gen 4.1; Hos 2.20, 4.6; Matt 7.21.23; 1 John 2.3-4) “my name” Yehovah and his revealed character as his only source (v 14). He will call on Yehovah and he will answer him; he will be with him in trouble (distress); he will rescue him (release) and honor him (v 15). With a long life (not cut short in this world or the next) God will satisfy him (a meaningful life) and show him “my salvation” (Yeshuati). You can see the name “Yeshua” here and this means the believer will witness the salvation he has the in the Messiah and the Olam Haba (v 16).

Psa 92.1-15 is designated as a Sabbath Psalm in the title and so there will be allusions to the seventh day of the creation week in it, and it is also read on Rosh Ha Shannah and Yom Kippur, both are called a Yom Ha Din (Day of judgment). It is the only psalm designated for the Sabbath day. The author is not named but some scholars believe it was written by David because some of the terms referring to musical instruments, the house and courts and the enemies.

Psa 92.1-4 tells us it is good to give thanks to the Lord (Yehovah) by singing and declaring (proclaiming) his mercy with musical instruments like the harp (nevel) and the lyre (kinnor). Why do this? Because the Lord has made “me glad by what he has done.”

Psa 92.5-9 tells us that Yehovah’s deeds are beyond what we can even understand and his thoughts are beyond what we can grasp (v 5). A senseless man (“ba’ar”) has no knowledge of God’s wonders and designs, nor does a stupid man (“kesil”) understand certain things about this life. There is a difference between a senseless man (ba’ar) and a kesil-type fool. A ba’ar can be taught God’s ways, but a kesil is intelligent but looks for excuses not to believe with that intellect. He will look to discredit overwhelming evidence about the Lord and his works, rejecting moral and ethical wisdom (v 6). When the wicked (rasha) sprout up like grass, and all who do iniquity seem to flourish, it was only that they might be destroyed forever. God blesses the wicked to their own detriment. For example, there is a parable (aggadah) about a slave who cursed a king’s son. Who would know if the king killed the slave, because he was lowly and of no reputation. So the king elevates and blesses the slave and makes him powerful. Then he executes him and now everyone took notice (v 7). But Yehovah is exalted (on high) forever and he watches and controls his creation (v 8). The day is coming when God’s enemies will perish and all who do iniquity will be “out of joint” (disorganized) and have no place in the Olam Haba (v 9).

Psa 92.10-15 speaks of the blessings that come upon a believer. God will exalt “my horn” (power) like the horn of a wild ox, taller than the horns of other creatures; and he he is anointed (saturated, satisfied) with fresh oil (v 10). The eyes of the righteous will look upon the downfall of their enemies, and their ears will hear of their overthrow (unlike Lot). The righteous man (tzadik) will flourish like a palm tree and not like the grass of verse 7. The palm tree is a tree that symbolizes the righteous in Scripture, called the “Tzadik Ha Tamar” (Psa 1.3, 52.8). He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon, tall and string (v 12). He will be planted like the priests in the house of the Lord (Temple and the Olam Haba-Psa 27.5) and they will flourish in the courts of our God. Solomon had palm trees all over the walls of the Temple (v 13). They will still yield fruit in old age (spiritually vigorous) and full of sap and very green, speaking of righteousness and life (v 14). To show that Yehovah is dependable, he is described as a rock that the righteous rely on and there is no unrighteousness (wrong ways) in him. In Hebrew, the word for “unrighteousness” is written without the letter “vav.” This teaches that God’s decisions may seem wrong or deficient to us at first, but later on we will see the wisdom in them and they will not seem wrong at all (v 15).

Psa 93.1-5 is a psalm that declares that all men will recognize God’s majesty in the Messianic age, as do the next seven psalms (Psa 94 through 100). There is no heading for this psalm and the author is unknown, although some believe it was written by Moses, and others think it was written by David. This psalm was the Psalm of the Day for the sixth day of the week and sung in the Temple on Rosh Ha Shannah and Yom Kippur also.

Psa 93.1 says the Lord reigns (forever) and he is clothed with majesty (like a robe) and the outward display of the Kivod. He controls nature and is also clothed with strength to subdue his enemies. The world is firmly established and it it will not be moved into chaos. All we “see” of this “robe” is his outward glory. God’s throne (sovereignty) was established from the first day of creation on Tishri 1, and he has total control forever. His existence predates creation and transcends time (v 2). The “floods” (his enemies-Jer 12.5; Isa 8.6-8; Rev 12.15-17) have lifted up (risen in opposition); and the floods (his enemies) have lifted up their voice; and the floods have lifted up their pounding waves to shatter Israel (v 3). But the Lord is more powerful than the sound of many waters (floods mentioned three times) and the mighty breakers of the sea (unconverted humanity-Isa 57.20). The sea was seen as the domain of Ha Satan and Leviathan (Isa 27.1; Rev 13.1) and we know that Yeshua has dominion over the sea. God’s testimonies (the Torah) and fully confirmed and trustworthy, and holiness (kedusha) is appropriate for the the Temple, and this is a concept that will last forever. The Temple was called the “Beit Ha Mikdash” which means “House of Kedusha.”

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Tying into the New Testament

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