Psalm 91: Seeing the Unseen

Psalm 91: Seeing the Unseen

The hymns and poems of Israel invite us into the realities of human condition and the presence and purposes of God.

To walk in the wisdom and revelation of the Psalms requires us to make personal decisions about how we will understand the Psalms meaning for us today.

  1. What did the author (Author) intend for the hearer, reader and singer to understand from the psalm?  What did it mean to the author?
  2. What have hearers, readers and singers understood the psalm to mean in history?
  3. What should hearers, readers and singers understand the psalm to mean today?

“Thus, the Psalm invites readers from diverse contexts to help shape the meaning of the Psalm by contributing their own answers….”  The Oxford Handbook of the Psalms, Brennan Breed, page 298

Previously, in Psalms for All Seasons, I presented my perspective of Psalm 23 and Psalm 91 (two among many) as poetry aligning with every season of life.  All day, every day, Psalms 23 and 91 are a perfect match for the soul.

In my presentation, Psalm 91: Because He Loves Me, we looked at the poetry of Psalm 91 as though God is talking to persons whose love for Him is expansive and of His interest in rescuing and protecting those who love Him so. 

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

Psalm 91: A Perfect Match for Jesus considers the poem as a Psalm of Trust for the Perfect King. The poetic promises God makes in Psalm 91 are all fully experience by King Jesus.

In this teaching we will consider Psalm 91 as revelation from God opening to our seeing the unseen.

Things that are unseen feature prominently in this Psalm.

  • The fowler’s snare is unseen by the fowl.  Vs. 3
  • Terror of the night increases because one cannot see into the night.  Vs. 5
  • Plagues that destroy at midday also cannot be seen.  Vs. 6

The fear and danger of the unseen is met by the Psalmist’s announcement of God’s unseen (generally) angels who pronounce and protect God’s beloved.  Psalm 91:11-12

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

Henry Thiessen states in Lectures in Systematic Theology, “Scripture everywhere assumes the existence of angels, good and evil.”  (1980, page 133)

Thiessen’s “Categories of Angels” is helpful in understanding Biblical revelation about angels.


In both primary biblical languages, Hebrew and New Testament Greek, angel means messenger. 

Sometimes the messengers are human (Luke 7:24) and sometime the messengers are “heavenly” messengers.

Deciding if the Bible is referring to a human or heavenly messenger is sometimes challenging.  For example, much debate happens regarding the use of “angel” by the Apostle John to the seven churches of Asia.

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:”  Revelation 2:1

The Bible reveals a gigantic angel population.

Daniel 7:9, 10

“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. 10 A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

Psalm 68:17

17 The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.

Revelation 5:11

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,

The Bible reveals various kinds of angels

Cherubim (singlular is Cherub) are mostly shown as the guardians of God’s throne and His glory.

24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.  Genesis 3:24

Seraphim (singular is Seraph) are mostly revealed to be the directors and worshippers of God.

Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  Isaiah 6:2

Living Creatures seem to be similar to, but different from the seraphim.  The living creatures have the unique role of administering the judgements of God.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever.  Revelation 4:6-10

An archangel is directly introduced in the Bible.  Archangels are shown to guard Israel, make very important announcements, and serve as warriors or leading warrior angels.

But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”  Jude 1:9

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  1 Thessalonians 4:16

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back…Revelation 12:7

The watchers may or may not be a different kind of angel.  Nebuchadnezzar saw watchers in his vision who were sent to observe and give a message from God

13 “I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. Daniel 4:13

17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.  Daniel 4:17

Sons of God is, at times, a reference to angels. 

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.  Job 1:6

when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:7

In this world of unseen dangers and fears, God has a FAR GREATER unseen ministry team serving Him on your behalf.  Psalm 91:11-12

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

Personal Application

We believe all prayer is to God the Father, through His Son Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, we do not pray to angels.

We understand the Bible to teach that God gives guidance to the angels for the good of those who love Him wholeheartedly.

Consider praying for God to give guidance to the angels on your behalf.

  1. Angels are messengers of God.  “Lord, I pray to receive every message you intend for me, whether by the gifts of the Spirit, the Bible, wise counsel from others or by angelic delivery.”
  2. Angels are I     nvolved in the worship of God.  “Lord, I pray to worship you at a much higher level than I do now.  May I learn from the angels a greater capacity for worship.”
  3. Angels are God’s warriors.  “Lord, I pray that you will commission your angels in the unseen war related to my life.  May your angels go to war on my behalf.”
  4. Angels guard the throne of God and His glory.  “Lord, as you increase my personal experience with your glory, may you send your angels to guard both me and your glory.”
  5. Angels “lift you up” so that your walk is steady.  “Lord, I ask you to commission your angels to lift me up so that I walk steady and holy before you.”