Today, I would like to focus in on Psalm 91 since the yearly offerings given in Numbers are easy to understand. Psalm 91 makes incredible promises to those that trust in God. These promises include: “No harm will overtake you”, “You will tread on the lion and the cobra”. How do we read such promises in light of Jesus’ warning to his disciples that they will suffer? Also remember the words of the apostle Paul, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Psalm 91 doesn’t even seem like the sort of song we can sing today. Satan even quotes part of this song years later to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:6).
The key to enjoying this Psalm today is to read the last four verses with reflection on how Jesus’ work changes the way we read the entirety of Psalm 91. Psalm 91:11-12 is the promise Satan uses to tempt Jesus to prove God’s favor on His life. Then Psalm 91:13 makes an interesting promise Satan omits, yet Jesus would know by heart, “You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.” I cannot know for sure,, but I believe Satan, in the wilderness, uses this this Psalm as an invitation for Jesus to demonstrate He is capable of defeat Satan, the great lion and serpent. Jesus doesn’t succumb and trusts God will complete this promise of victory on God’s own terms. Jesus knew the rest of the Psalm. Read how God finishes Psalm 91 with a promise, “He will call on 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” (Psalm 91:15-16). Jesus trusts God will give him long life, but not because he never dies, but because he defeats death. Jesus sees God’s salvation, not away from suffering, but through suffering and is victorious in this way over the great lion and serpent. Psalm 91 is now a song not about having no troubles, but about not being destroyed by our troubles, just like the savior that went before us.