We are studying Psalm 91 for Sunday, February 24. Psalm 91 is a popular “favorite psalm” of human trust and divine assurance. [Study notes on this text.] Here are a few questions we might want to consider as we study and discuss the text:
Verse 1 evokes an image of place and stability: “living” or “dwelling in” the “shelter of the Most High,” “the shadow of the Almighty.” What is this place? What do we understand it to mean to “live in the shelter of the Most High”? That is – we can say concretely what it means to live “at 123 Somewhere Street” or to live “in Corydon, Indiana” – can we be that concrete about living in the shelter of the Most High? If so – what do we say? If not – why not?
How does a person or people come to live in the shelter of the Most High, do we think?
For instance, verse 2 presents a human declaration, addressed to the God of Israel: “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.” Is this a formula, do we think – like an entry code? So that once someone says it, the person is “inside”? Or is it something else? How do we understand this declaration? What does it mean if a person makes it, do we think?
[More personal:] Do we make this declaration, or have we ever made it? When? Why?
Verses 5-6 name calamities and dangers that the person who takes refuge – the refugee, literally – “will not fear.” What do we understand this “not fearing” to mean? That is, do we think it means that the person is no longer in danger? That the person knows they will not experience any pain or difficulty? That the person may have some negative experience, but they are assured everything will all turn out for the best? Something else? What makes us think this?
[More personal:] What is our own response to fear-provoking situations? Why? What do we do about that? Does this scripture seem to address our fears? Why, or why not?
Verses 14-16 are direct speech of God’s announcing deliverance, protection, and presence in trouble. What are our thoughts, feelings, responses to this speech? Why? How well does this speech resonate with our own relationship with or experience of God? What makes us say that?
Overall, this psalm seems to give us a lot of food for thought in exploring our own personal experience(s) of and relationship with God – which could make for a very personal conversation. We might want to bear this in mind.