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 … 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. (Ps. 91:1-6a)
This present generation of Americans has been largely shielded from pestilence. We have grown up in the era of vaccinations, hygienic awareness, purified water, advanced medical care, etc., that have kept disease under relative control. But as we are being reminded, nature is a powerful force. Humans become complacent; microorganisms adapt; globalism is the order of the day, and such things enable outbreaks such as the coronavirus pandemic.
But a side-effect of pestilence is fear, and medical science doesn’t cure that. We can wear masks and gloves, keep our social distance and cough into our elbows, but the enemy is unseen and sometimes unavoidable. As the psalm notes, the antidote to fear is dependence on God, for “in Him I will trust.”
Charles Spurgeon makes some timely observations on this psalm:
“(Pestilence) is shrouded in mystery. ... It marches on, unseen of men, slaying with hidden weapons, like an enemy stabbing in the dark, yet those who dwell in God are not afraid of it. ... In the days of its power none can promise themselves freedom from it for an hour in any place in the infected city; it enters a house men know not how, and its very breath is mortal; yet those choice souls who dwell in God shall live above fear in the most plague-stricken places.
“Days of horror and nights of terror are for other men, [but the believer’s] days and nights are alike spent with God, and therefore pass away in sacred quiet. His peace is not a thing of times and seasons, it does not rise and set with the sun, nor does it depend upon the healthiness of the atmosphere or the security of the country. Remember that the voice which saith ‘thou shalt not fear’ is that of God himself, who hereby pledges his word for the safety of those who abide under his shadow, nay, not for their safety only, but for their serenity” (Treasury of David, Vol. IV, pgs. 233-234).
We live in a world of danger and uncertainty, but we also serve a faithful and powerful God who holds our lives in His hands. How many unseen threats has God already deflected from our path? And if the day of tragedy strikes, we can face even that with the assurance of our spirit’s security beyond our last breath.