The Soldier’s Psalm

Title: The Soldier's Psalm

Bible Book: Psalms 91 : 1-16

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Independence Day; America; Memorial Day



The Soldier’s Psalm, a designation for the 91st Psalm, is for all who are in the army of the Most High. The name “Most High” comes from the Hebrew word, “Elyon,” meaning “the possessor of heaven and earth, over all the earth.” The first mention of this name for God is found in Genesis 14:18-20. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe affirms, “He is higher than the kings of the earth and the false gods of the nations.”[1]

I understand in WWI the 91st Brigade recited the 91st Psalm daily, no doubt it brought peace and comfort to the hearts of those who were genuine believers. In WWII people gave soldiers The Heart Shield Bible or The Shield and New Testament which “fits snugly in uniform pocket. The Engraved Gold-Plated steel front cover protects his heart.” The following message is engraved on the cover: “May this keep you safe from harm.”[2]

Recently, I read the following in a note clipped by Dr. Michael Guido (1915-2009), “An army lieutenant and his buddy were sent on an important and dangerous mission. Suddenly the enemy appeared! The lieutenant prayed, ‘Lord, the responsibility is now yours.’ A blast from the enemy struck him in the chest and bowled him over. His comrade thought he was dead, but he wasn’t.

Later he wrote, ‘My buddy thought I was dead, and was amazed when I tried to get up. Dazedly, I took my Bible from my shirt pocket, over my heart. Silently I looked at the jagged hole in its cover. A bullet had ripped through to the ninety-first Psalm and stopped at the verse which reads, ‘A thousand shall fall at thy side . . . but it shall not come nigh thee!’ In profound gratitude I said, ‘Thank You, precious Lord!’”

Dr. Charles Moinet (1842-1913), of Kensington, England, explains, “Rarely, if anywhere, has faith made so complete a shield of God, or planted itself so firmly within the circle of His defence. . . . The ancient Church used it as its ‘Invocavit,’ to rally and encourage the hearts of the faithful in troublous and stormy times. The question is, How are we to understand it? Is it true? Can a man, because he is a Christian, and fears God, count upon such immunity as is here described? Does he lead a sort of charmed life, clothed with impenetrable armour, which no shaft of pestilence can pierce, so that while thousands or tens of thousands may fall at his right hand, he shall never be touched? We know that it is not so. . . . Is there, then, any way in which we can interpret it, so as to use it with intelligence and profit to ourselves?”[3]

Dr. Moinet, concludes, “And though Christians must be ready to suffer for the truth, and to lighten the world's burden, by bearing it as Christ did, may they not expect to be delivered from those evils which are neither imposed by loyalty to the Gospel, nor assumed for the good of others? Have they no right to look for special protection in times of famine or pestilence; or does God send these indiscriminately on the evil and the good, just as He sends the sunshine and the rain? Undoubtedly He does, and Christians have no right to look for immunity from the ills that are the common lot of men. Inasmuch as they are still a part of a sinful humanity, they must share in the judgments which may come upon it. But does a Christian, then, derive no advantage from his Christianity in such visitations? . . . By no means. For he has placed himself under God's care, who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, and who cannot allow His servant to suffer, simply because He will not take the trouble to save him, or grudges what the effort might cost. Moreover, he is persuaded that God is acquainted with every particular connected with his trial, the very hairs of his head being all numbered, and that if He chose He could secure his absolute safety. And what reconciles him to the fact that God does not choose? What but the conviction that there is thus to come to him a larger blessing than he would otherwise receive?”[4]

On Psalm 91, Dr. Paul S. Rees (1900-1991) asks and answers, "Who wrote it? And when? Or for what reason? No one knows."[5]

Allow me to share three things about the Most High from our text.

I. The Providence of the Most High (Psalm 91:1-8)

From Psalm 91:1-8 we read, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; / My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler / And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, / And under His wings you shall take refuge; / His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, / Nor of the arrow that flies by day, / Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, / Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, / And ten thousand at your right hand; / But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, / And see the reward of the wicked.”

Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) comments, “The psalmist wrote, ‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty’ (Ps. 91:1). We cannot rest in God until we nest in God. To nest is to settle, to abide.”[6]

The shadow of God’s wings is an oft repeated image in the psalms. This is demonstrated in the following Scriptural medley of Psalm 17:8; 36:7; 57:1 and 63:7, were we read, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; / Hide me under the shadow of Your wings. . . . How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. . . . Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; / And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, / Until these calamities have passed by. . . . Because You have been my help, / Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.”

Dr. Richard Briscoe Cook (1838-1916) shares, “In the autumn of 1854, not twelve months after Mr. Spurgeon became the pastor of New Park Street Church, that dreadful scourge of humanity, the Asiatic cholera, visited London. It was raging all over Europe and thousands were falling victims to its ravages. The faith and courage of the young preacher were tested in a remarkable manner. He was already popular, especially among the poor. And now he was sent for to visit the sick and the dying, without intermission, day and night. He obeyed every summons during its continuance, visiting, reading, praying and conversing with the suffering and afflicted. These scenes were appealing and exhausting to the mind, heart and body of the servant of God. Once, when he had returned home, after witnessing several terrible deaths, he was again called upon to revisit the same sad scenes when he was almost tempted to yield to the longing for rest. He had toiled until his physical energies were well nigh exhausted, and, giving way to depression of mind, he almost thought himself a victim of the dread disease. It was then, while mournfully contemplating the situation, that his attention was attracted to a scrap of paper--some notice probably--wafered on a shop window. He approached it, and read the words written on it. They were: 'Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth by noonday.'--Psalm xci, 5, 6. These words he accepted as a message from God, and he was inspired to cheerfully continue his work of love."[7]

II. The Protection of the Most High (Psalm 91:9-13)

Dr. J. Martin Kohe shares the following in his book titled Your Greatest Power: [Frederick] F. L. Rawson [1859-1923], noted engineer and one of England's greatest scientists, in his book, Life Understood, gives an account of a British regiment under control of Colonel Whitlesey, which served in the World War for more than four years without losing a man. This unparalleled record was made possible by means of active cooperation of officers and men in memorizing and repeating regularly the words of the 91st Psalm, which has been called the Psalm of Protection."[8] In Psalm 91:9-13 we read, “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, / Even the Most High, your dwelling place, / No evil shall befall you, / Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; / For He shall give His angels charge over you, / To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, / Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, / The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.” Dr. Joseph E. Falkner, senior pastor of Ponderosa Baptist Church, Payson, Arizona, warns, "We must not take the psalmist's words lightly, and we also should not presume upon God's protection by living carelessly. Satan quoted the words 'he shall give his angels charge over thee' (Ps. 91:11) to tempt Jesus to cast Himself off the pinnacle of the temple (Matt. 4:5-6). Jesus refused to do what the devil suggested, declaring that to engage in such presumption would be to tempt God (vs. 7)."[9]

From Hebrews 1:14 we read about angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” Alexander Pope (1688-1744) observes, “Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.”[10]

III. The Promise of the Most High (Psalm 91:14-16)

We read in Psalm 91:14-16, “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; / I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; / I will be with him in trouble; / I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, / And show him My salvation.”

When David Livingstone (1813-1873), a medical missionary, asked if he feared going to Africa because it was so difficult and dangerous? He replied, "I am immortal until the will of God for me is accomplished."[11]

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) explains, “It is impossible that any ill should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord; the most crushing calamities can only shorten his journey and hasten him to his reward. Ill to him is not ill, but only good in a mysterious form. Losses enrich him, sickness is his medicine, reproach is his honor, death is his gain. No evil in the strict sense of the word can happen to him, for everything is overruled for good. Happy is he who is in such a case. He is secure where others are in peril, he lives where others die.”[12]

Rev. Matthew Henry (1666-1714) explains, “Whatever happens, nothing shall hurt the believer; though trouble and affliction befal, it shall come, not for his hurt, but for good, though for the present it be not joyous but grievous. Those who rightly know God, will set their love upon him. They by prayer constantly call upon him. His promise is, that he will in due time deliver the believer out of trouble, and in the mean time be with him in trouble. The Lord will manage all his worldly concerns, and preserve his life on earth, so long as it shall be good for him. For encouragement in this he looks unto Jesus. He shall live long enough; till he has done the work he was sent into this world for, and is ready for heaven. Who would wish to live a day longer than God has some work to do, either by him or upon him? A man may die young, yet be satisfied with living. But a wicked man is not satisfied even with long life. At length the believer's conflict ends; he has done for ever with trouble, sin, and temptation.”[13]

Dr. A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) exhorts, “Keep your feet on the ground, but let your heart soar as high as it will. Refuse to be average or to surrender to the chill of your spiritual environment.”[14]


Sadly, many in our day, attempt to build morale in the military without biblical morality. These days we hear many constantly chant, “Judge not,” related to the vices that plague our nation. Ironically, many of these are the most judgmental of conservative Bible believing Christians, who desire to obey our Lord’s Great Commission. Soldiers in the United States Armed Forces face the threat of Court-Martial if they share their Christian faith in a way deemed too aggressive or assertive.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said in a written statement, “Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).”[15] Therefore, it is okay to evangelize and it is not okay to proselytize.

To demonstrate how closely these terms are in usage, allow me to share the following from “To proselytize is to try to persuade someone to switch to your religious beliefs or your way of living. ‘ Like a true evangelist, Amber proselytized about the rewards of life as a devout adherent of the faith.’

The word proselytize can specifically refer to religious evangelism, as in: ‘Proselytizing is a fundamental component of Mormonism, with mandatory mission work.’ Proselytize, however, can also be used for any situation when people are trying to convince others to try something or to join something. TV ads proselytize about the pleasures of life with mouthwash, friends proselytize about how great their favorite video games are, and moms proselytize about the benefits of eating vegetables.”[16]

As you can see, there is a fine line between these two concepts. Who makes that judgment call? What criteria do they use?

The only way to properly appreciate and apply Psalm 91 is through a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. By example, Jesus warns against misusing Psalm 91. Satan quoted a portion of it as He tempted Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, thus presuming upon God’s protection. Jesus corrected this misapplication by citing Deuteronomy 6:16a, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” May each one of us receive the blessing God intends to bestow upon us through Psalm 91, known as the Soldier’s Psalm.

Author’s Note: To introduce this message in relation to Memorial Day use “The Real Meaning of Memorial Day” by Col. James Puchy (ret.), Accessed: 05/24/13 .

[1]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Wisdom and Poetry, Psalms, Book IV, 257, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[2]The Heart Shield Bible or The Shield and New Testament, (Cincinnati, OH: Know Your Bible Co., 1943) , Inside Front Cover

[3]Charles Moinet, The “Good Cheer” of Jesus Christ, (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, 1893), 113-114

[4]Moinet, Cheer, 122-123

[5]Paul S. Rees, "Psalm 91: Faith in God's Faithfulness," Sermon Notes, Psalm 91:1-16

[6]The Vance Havner Quotebook, comp. Dennis J. Hester, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), “Rest,” Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.

[7]Richard Briscoe Cook, The Wit and Wisdom of the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon; Containing Sections from His Writings and a Sketch of His Life and Work, (Baltimore, MD: R. H. Woodward and Company, 1892) 71-71

[8]J. Martin Kohe, Your Greatest Power, (United Kingdom: Executive Books, 2005), 276-277

[9]Joseph E. Falkner, "Freedom From Fear," Sermon Notes, (Psalm 91)

[10]Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism,” (1711)

[11]Ron Rhodes, 1001 Unforgettable Quotes about God, Faith, and the Bible, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2011), 73

[12]Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 2, Part 2, 93

[13]Matthew Henry, Short Comments on Every Chapter of the Holy Bible, (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1838), 424

[14]A. W. Tozer, The Root of Righteousness (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1955), 30-31

[15]Accessed: 05/24/13

[16]Accessed: 05/24/13

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210

© May 26, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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