6. Psalms: Trusting in God's Protection
(Psalms 61, 91, 121)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (35:53)

Rock formation from Garden of the Gods Park, Colorado Springs, CO
God is our Rock and Fortress. Rock formation from Garden of the Gods Park, Colorado Springs, CO.
When trouble is all around we can either panic or find strength in faith. In these psalms the writer sees God as his ultimate Protector. In this lesson we'll be focusing on the portions of several psalms that describe a person seeking the protection of God. These are generally categorized in the genre of psalms of confidence.

Psalm 61 - Lead Me to the Rock that Is Higher than I

Our first psalm of protection endears itself to us because we can so easily identify with the sense of vulnerability of the author in the first couple of verses. Psalm 61 is meant to be sung and accompanied:

"For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David."

Since the psalm is attributed to David, the first four verses would seem to come from his hand. Verses 5-8 speak of the king in the third person, so they may have been added in subsequent generations as a prayer for the king. We're not sure.

Hear My Faint Cry, O God (61:1-2b)

I love this brief psalm, that begins:

"1Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint." (61:1-2b)

The first couplet (or pair of parallel lines) has the psalmist asking God to listen to him.1 The second couplet seem to emphasize the distance he feels from God at the moment -- "from the ends of the earth." He is at an extremity: "I call as my heart grows faint" (NIV) or is "overwhelmed" (KJV). The verb is `āṭap, "be feeble, faint, grow weak." The word can pertain to physical exhaustion or the languishing of a man's innermost being.2 Even though he has almost given up, he calls.

The Rock that is Higher than I (61:2c)

His prayer inspires me every time I read it:

"Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." (61:2c)

The image is of a man seeking refuge from his enemy by hiding in the towering rocks of a mountain. He has found a place of concealment but realizes the vulnerability of his position. And so he asks a person to lead him to a rocky prominence that is yet higher up and more difficult to attack than his current position. And so the person leads him up the hidden trail to the higher rock.

But the Rock in this psalm is God himself, who is often referred to as "the Rock" in the Bible. The word here is ṣûr, "massive rock," used for boulders or formations of stone, and for the material which composes mountains. The caves of the rocks are places where David and his men sought safety when they were being hunted by King Saul and his armies.3

My Refuge and Strong Tower Against the Foe (61:3)

The next images are military in nature:

"3For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe." (61:3)

Two words in this couplet describe the defensive protection that God offers:

"Refuge" (NIV, NRSV), "shelter" (KJV) is maḥseh, "place of refuge, shelter," from the verb ḥāsā, "to seek refuge, flee for protection."4

"Strong tower," is a tall building on the city wall or in a walled city that could be defended against even a determined enemy, due to its height and strength of construction.5

This image of God as a place of refuge is common, especially in the Psalms. He is a safe place, a place to which one can retreat when all hell is breaking loose. He is a sure bastion against any foe. God is our source of protection.

The Shelter of Your Wings (61:4)

The final images in this psalm of protection are more gentle, more intimate places of solace:

"I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings." (61:4)

"Your tent" refers to God's dwelling place. Initially it referred to the "tent of meeting" or the "tabernacle" in the wilderness, later the temple in Jerusalem. In the Psalms to "dwell in the house of the Lord" is an idiom that describes a closeness to and intimacy with God (Psalm 15:1; 23:6; 27:4; 90:1; 92:13).

"The shelter of your wings" calls on the image of a mother bird sheltering and protecting her young with her wings (Psalm 17:8; 57:1; 63:7; 91:4; Ruth 2:12). Jesus used this image as he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem:

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Matthew 23:37)

In chapter 2 of our study we already looked at Psalm 63, where we find this poignant verse:

"Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings." (Psalm 63:7)

We'll see yet another reference to the protection of God's wings in Psalm 91 below. Does God have literal wings? Of course not. God the Father is a spirit without a physical body (John 4:24). But the imagery of his wings helps us to understand the intimacy of his protection.

After "Selah" (which may signify some kind of pause), the psalm turns from God as a refuge and concludes with a prayer for the king:

"5For you have heard my vows, O God;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6Increase the days of the king's life,
his years for many generations.
7May he be enthroned in God's presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
8Then will I ever sing praise to your name
and fulfill my vows day after day." (61:5-8)
Q1. (Psalm 61:1-4) What images does the psalmist evoke to communicate his trust in God's protection? How do the first four verses of this psalm make you feel?




Psalm 91 - Dwelling in the Shelter of the Most High

Psalm 91 is a wonderful psalm that has been a comfort and source of faith to many who have faced physical danger. It has the distinction of being misquoted by Satan to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10-11) and referred to by Jesus to strengthen his disciples in spiritual warfare (Luke 10:19).

The Mighty Names of God (91:1-2)

Notice how this psalm begins: by invoking four of the most common strong names of God:

  • The Most High (`elyôn), the name by which he was known by Abraham and the patriarchs. The Exalted God, the God higher than every false god.
  • The Almighty (shadday), the God of Might, the ruler of all.
  • The LORD or Yahweh, is the name by which God revealed himself to Moses, the great I Am, the eternally existent God.
  • My God (´ĕlōhīm), the Strong One, using the plural of majesty.6

We must never forget Who is with us: God in all his might and power!

Metaphors of Protection

Observe how the psalm uses a number of protection metaphors for God, some of which we've explored above:

"1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.'" (91:1-2)
"He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (91:4)
"If you make the Most High your dwelling --
even the LORD, who is my refuge...." (91:9)

Consider the words and what they convey:7

  • "Shelter, secret place" (1a, sēter) is a "hiding place," from sātar, "hide, conceal," which includes the thought of protection.8 Most notably, the noun is used in Psalm 32:7 of God, "You are my hiding place."
  • "Shadow" (1b, (ṣel) refers to "shadow," which, in an arid, sun-baked land, conveys the positive ideas of shade, protection, and defense.9 Elsewhere we see references to "the shadow of his wings" (Psalm 17:8; 36:7).
  • "Refuge" (2a, maḥseh) denotes "refuge, shelter,"10 which we saw above in 61:3.
  • "Fortress" (2b, meṣûdâ) refers to a "fastness, stronghold," related to the word for Masada, the fortress-palace plateau of Herod near the Dead Sea.11
  • "Feathers" and "wings" (4a,b), of course carry on the protection analogy of the mother bird, which we explored above in 61:4.
  • "Shield" (4c, ṣinnâ) refers here to a "large shield (covering the whole body)."12 A shield is used as a metaphor of God's protection a number of times in Scripture (for example, Genesis 15:1; Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 3:3; 115:9-11).
  • "Buckler" or "rampart" (4c, sōḥērâ) is difficult to translate with certainty. It could mean some kind of surrounding wall, but because of the parallelism in this verse is usually understood as the small shield used in closest combat or some type of armor ... and is clearly related to the verbal root, sāḥar, 'go around, turn about/away.'"13
  • "Refuge" (9a, maḥseh) is a "place of refuge, shelter," which we saw in Psalm 61:3 above.14
  • "Dwelling place, habitation" (9b, mā`ōn) refers to a "place of habitation, dwelling," from `ûn, "to dwell."15

 What a wonderful picture of God is fleshed out by the imagery in this psalm!

The Fowler's Snare (91:3)

In Psalm 91 the author enumerates the various dangers that one can experience and assures the reader that God is able to save from all of these:

"Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence." (91:3)

A fowler, of course, was a person who hunted fowl, birds, either for amusement or to supply birds for food, pets, or sacrifice. Birds were caught by many means -- net, trap, decoy birds, bird lime -- a sticky substance that would stop birds from flying away, throw stick, and the bow and sling. Here the psalmist refers to a bird trap (paḥ) that would catch the bird unawares. It is used figuratively for the plots of the wicked to try to entrap and bring down their enemies.

"Noisome" (KJV) has nothing to do with noise, but is an archaic word meaning "noxious, harmful," or as the NIV and NRSV render it, "deadly." "Pestilence" is deber, "pestilence, murrain, and plague," perhaps bubonic plague, any kind of pestilence which results in death.16

The promise here is that God's protection can extend both to the plots of evil men and the diseases that ravage mankind.

The Terror of Night (91:5-6)

Now the psalmist continues to spell out the kinds of places where God's protection can extend:

"5You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6nor the pestilence (deber) that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday." (91:5-6)

"Plague" (NIV) or "destruction" (KJV, NRSV) is qeṭeb, "destruction"17 or perhaps "sting," as the name of a disease, perhaps measles.18 God can protect us from the terrors of both night and day, while we sleep and when we are awake.

It Will Not Come Near You (91:7-8)

And now an astounding promise that God will protect us, even though others around us are stricken:

"7A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked." (91:7-8)

Dwelling with the Most High (91:9-10)

"9If you make the Most High your dwelling --
even the LORD, who is my refuge --
10then no harm19 will befall you,
no disaster20 will come near your tent." (91:9-10)

What does it mean to "make the Most High your dwelling"? It means to consciously adhere to him in faith continually. Many people speak God's name in times of danger. But the psalmist here is speaking of those who "abide" with God, who trust him continually, who constantly look to him.

Angels Protecting Us (91:11-12)

Now the psalmist speaks of the agents of this protection -- angels, messengers:

"11For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." (91:11-12)

Though Satan used this verse to try to tempt Jesus to do a spectacular miracle outside of God's will (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10, 11), that doesn't detract from the truth in Scripture that angels are sent to protect and care for us humans (Genesis 19; Matthew 18:10; 26:53; Hebrews 1:14; etc.). You have probably experienced miraculous protection from accidents that could have killed you. I have no doubt that angels are often at work to protect us.

Power Over Evil Forces (91:13)

Now the psalm down-shifts to a new level of power. Previously, the psalmist spoke of God's protection for his people -- defensive. Now he speaks of his people's power and ability to destroy the forces arrayed against them -- offensive. Verse 13 promises God's protection over deadly creatures -- the large, powerful lion and the small but venomous serpent.

"You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent." (91:13)
Above: Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje). Below: Saharan Horned Viper (Cerastes cerastes).
Above: Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje). Below: Saharan Horned Viper (Cerastes cerastes).

"Cobra" (NIV) or "adder" (NRSV, KJV) is peten, which designates a venomous serpent, perhaps a hooded Egyptian Cobra or asp (Naja haje) or horned viper (Cerastes cerastes).21 "Serpent" (NIV, NRSV) or "dragon" (KJV) is tannîn, "dragon, sea monster, serpent, whale," here used in the generic sense of "any large reptile."22 The Egyptian Cobra's venom is extremely toxic and can induce quick and painless death, probably used by Cleopatra to commit suicide. The horned viper's venom is much less toxic.

Serpents, of course, have been identified as symbolic of Satan from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1) to the Book of Revelation (Revelation 12:9). Jesus refers to this passage when he seeks to clarify the disciples' power when they come back exuberant from a mission having cast out demons:

"I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." (Luke 10:19)

In Jesus' name we have power greater than that of our powerful enemy. In Jesus we have the power to push him back, to resist him, to wage war against him. Hallelujah! The last phrase, rendered by the NIV as "Nothing will harm you," is a double negative in Greek, emphasizing and reinforcing its truth.

Because He Loves Me I Will Rescue Him (91:14-16)

In verses 14 to 16 the psalmist speaks as God's spokesman about the reasons for his protection and the qualities of the person he protects:

"14'Because he loves me,' says the LORD, 'I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.'" (91:14-16)

First, the qualities of the person the Lord watches out for:

  • Loves God (ḥāshaq), "to be attached to, to love, to cling to." The root emphasizes that which attaches to something or someone. In the case of emotions it is that love which is already bound to its object.23
  • Knows God's name. Yāda`, "to know," refers here to intimate knowledge, personal relationship. "Name" (shēm) means more than merely a way to designate a person. In Hebrew thought the name often included ideas of existence, character and reputation.24 It embraces the idea of how God reveals himself. Thus the idiom "to know the name" means to know God, to have a close relationship with him.25
  • Calls upon God. "He will call upon me," expresses the bond between the Helper and the helped, rooted in a trust in God's infinite grace, God's unmerited favor. This quality is of one reliance, of trust, of faith.26

These verses also spell out God's eight forthright promises to his people:

  1. I will rescue him (14a)
  2. I will protect him (14b)
  3. I will answer him (15a)
  4. I will be with him in trouble (15b)
  5. I will deliver him (15c)
  6. I will honor him (15c)
  7. I satisfy him with long life (16a)
  8. I will show him my salvation (16b)

Meditate on that, dear friends, when you are overtaken by fear!

(For group use, consider Readers Theater for Psalm 91, a reading for 4 voices)

Q2. (Psalm 91) What does this psalm teach us about God's protection when in danger? What does it teach about our authority to vanquish our enemies? What promises does Psalm 91 contain? How does this psalm make you feel?




Psalms 56 and 57

There are many, many psalms that talk about protection that we must skip over because of time, such as:

"When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4)


"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed." (Psalm 57:1)

... and a dozen more.

Psalm 121 - I Will Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills

Our final psalm of protection is a brief one, but beloved because it expresses the faith of the believer. It is titled as "a song of ascents," a psalm that was sung as pilgrims approached Jerusalem on the high feast days of Passover, Pentecost, and others. The author is not disclosed to us.

I Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills (121:1-2)

The psalm begins with a mention of hills and mountains. For most Israelites on a pilgrimage to the Holy City, their journey concluded with climbing up the rugged hills where Jerusalem sits at 2,460 feet above sea level. For those passing through Jericho it was an ascent of 3,300 feet, since Jericho in the plain of the Jordan is at 850 feet below sea level in the Great Rift Valley. Jerusalem's location is celebrated in Psalm 48:2 as "beautiful for situation" (KJV), "beautiful in elevation" (NRSV), "beautiful in its loftiness" (NIV), "towering in beauty" (NJB).

But the journey could be fraught with danger from bandits such as those who attacked the man in Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). These brigands would hide in the Judean hills and, when they found a person or small group traveling, would swoop down and rob them of everything they had. Thus pilgrims usually traveled to Jerusalem together in large groups for protection.

"1I lift up my eyes to the hills --
where does my help come from?
2My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth." (121:1-2)

Scholars have argued about the meaning of the hills. They could refer to:

  1. A source of danger from highwaymen (as outlined in the paragraph above, which makes most sense to me),
  2. A place to take refuge, like David did from Saul (Psalm 11:1),
  3. Suggestive of high places where false gods were worshipped (Jeremiah 3:23), or
  4. A reminder to pilgrims of Yahweh who was their mighty Rock.27

Whatever the meaning of the hills in verse 1, the psalmist very clearly sees the source of his help:

"My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth." (121:2)

"Help" is `ēzer, "help, support, helper," from the verb `āzar, "help, support." Many times it refers to military assistance. In the Psalms it usually refers to divine aid, both material and spiritual.28 In a number of places Helper is used as a title or descriptor of God (Psalm 10:14; 22:19; 40:17; 54:4; 118:6-7 quoted in Hebrews 13:6).29 In contrast to the towering hills where one can feel very small, the pilgrim proclaims that his Helper is the one who created these very mountains, "the Maker (`āśā) of heaven and earth," invoking another title of God (also Psalm 115:15; 134:3; 146:6; 149:2; Isaiah 27:11, 54:5, etc.).30

The Lord Who Watches Over You (121:3-8)

Now the psalmist begins to expand on the ways the Lord protects his people. Notice how the keywords "watch," "keep," "preserve," continue to pop up through the rest of the psalm:

"3He will not let your foot slip --
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5The LORD watches over you --
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7The LORD will keep you from all harm --
he will watch over your life;
8the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore." (Psalm 121:1-8)

The word variously translated "watch," "keep," or "preserve" is shāmar, "keep, guard, observe, give heed." The basic root means "to exercise great care over," with the connotation of carefulness, faithfulness, diligence. The word can be used in tending a garden, a flock, or a house, guarding against intruders, of gatekeepers or watchmen. We'll see it again when we discuss psalms that talk about God as our Shepherd. Here the word carries the idea of "to guard, take care of."31

God's protection involves his own careful guarding of us from danger. God is like a watchful Mom always keeping tabs on her toddler to keep him from any kind of danger that might approach. Mom is there to defend her pup against any alarm, rescue him from any tumble, and stand in the way of any possible threat to her child.

We could be tempted to rebel at God acting like a "mother hen." Or we could relax and realize that it is out of love that he is caring for us.

Notice the details of his protection:

  1. Protection from falling. "He will not let your foot slip" (verse 3a)
  2. Protection 24/7. "He who watches over you will not slumber" (verses 3b-4)
  3. Protection from the sun and moon. "The LORD is your shade at your right hand" (verses 5-6)
  4. Protection of an all-hazard policy. "The LORD will keep you from all harm" (verse 7)

The psalm concludes with an all-inclusive statement of God's watch-care over you.

  • All harm
  • Your life
  • Your coming and going
  • Now and forever.

His watchfulness is rooted in his great love that encompasses us. Elisha Hoffman and Anthony Showalter summed it up well in this memorable chorus:

"Leaning, leaning
Safe and secure from all alarms.
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."32
Q3. (Psalm 121). What reassurance is it to you that God keeps you and watches over you? How does Psalm 121 make you feel?




Will God Really Protect Us?

How can this be? we wonder. Surely, godly believers have died in dangerous situations. Does God really protect us? This very question, of course, probably results from sad negative experiences mixed with unbelief. The promises in these protection psalms are for people who will actually put their trust in God and his word. The promises are activated by faith. Let me remind you of two passages from Hebrews:

"We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6:12)
"I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies." (Hebrews 11:32b-34)

The Bible is full of people who by faith experienced God's supernatural protection. Today's world, as well, is full of believers who have seen the fulfillment of these promises first hand. God is not impotent, but our unbelief can make us impotent, preventing us from seeing these things (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5).

But consider: Christians don't seem to be immune to death in accidents, war, persecution, etc. How do we understand this in light of Psalm 91? Did all those who succumb to enemies just lack enough faith? Some did, of course, but surely not all. Two passages of Scripture may shed some light on this. The first is from the Apostle Paul:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

but this truth does not exclude verse 35:

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" (Romans 8:35)

The second passage is Jesus' teaching about the end times:

"You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life." (Luke 21:16-19)

People without faith look only at what happens in this life. And God is quite able to protect us in this life! But people of faith look beyond this life to the next. In the ultimate sense -- and that is what is important to us Christians -- our enemies cannot harm even one hair on our head. They can kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul (Matthew 10:28). And God will have the very last word on Judgment Day. In Revelation, the martyrs in heaven cry out:

"How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" (Revelation 6:10)
Experiencing the Psalms, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, a Bible study on Psalms in 12 lessons
Now all the lessons are available together in e-book and paperback formats.

The answer is not quite yet, but soon. When Jesus comes in his kingdom there will be singing and shouting and the fulfillment of all the promises of the Bible on that Day. Come, Lord Jesus!

So if you are in danger, by all means come to Psalm 91 for strength and encouragement. God is our Great Protector and we have been given mighty power to overcome our enemies. May you be one of those saints who through faith, "shut the mouths of lions, quench the fury of the flames, and escape the edge of the sword" (Hebrews 13:34). Just realize that the final chapter of your life and mine is not written in the here and now, but on that Day it will all be revealed in victory and glory. God has us all in his hands.

Q4. Since Christians don't seem immune to accident, persecution, and death, how are we to understand these psalms of protection? Why don't some believers seem to be protected? Does God really protect us? How?





Exercise. For one of the psalms in this lesson -- or another psalm with a similar theme -- do one of the suggested exercises to help you experience the Psalms (www.jesuswalk.com/psalms/psalms-exercises.htm). These include such things as praying a psalm, meditating, reading to a shut-in, paraphrasing, writing your own psalm, singing, preparing a liturgy, and memorizing. Then report to the forum what the exercise meant to you personally or share what you've written with others.


Father, thank you for the knowledge of your intimate watch-care over us. Strengthen our faith, we pray. When we are afraid, help us to trust in you. Protect us from our human enemies and the enemy of our souls. And bring us intact, we pray, into your eternal Kingdom. In Jesus' mighty name, we pray. Amen.


  • "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," words and music, Martin Luther (1529). Verse 1: Our Helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing...."
  • "A Shelter in the Time of Storm," words: Vernon J. Charlesworth (1880), music by Ira D. Sankey (1885)
  • "Dwelling Place," words and music by Walt Harrah (© 1986, Maranatha! Music). Psalm 91:1.
  • "He Hideth My Soul in the Cleft of the Rock," words by Fanny Crosby (1890), music by William J. Kirkpatrick
  • "Hear My Cry, O Lord, Listen to My Prayer," Psalm 61, unknown composer.
  • "I Lift My Eyes Up," words and music by Brian Doerksen (© 1990 Vineyard Songs Canada, Admin. by Music Services). Psalm 121.
  • "I Will Lift Up My Eyes," words and music by Dale Garratt (© 1970, Scripture in Song). Psalm 121.
  • "In the Secret of His Presence," words: Ellen L. Goreh (1883), music: George C. Stebbins (1883)
  • "Lead Me to the Rock," words and music by Lynn DeShazo (© 1989, Integrity's Hosanna! Music). Psalm 61:2
  • "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," words (1887) by Elisha A. Hoffman, music and refrain by Anthony J. Showalter (1858-1924).
  • "On Eagle's Wings," words and music by Michael Joncas (© 1979, 1991, New Dawn Music), in the Chalice Hymnal (1995), #77.
  • "Praise the Name of Jesus," ("He's my Rock, He's my Fortress...."), words and music by Roy Hicks, Jr. (©1976 Latter Rain Music, Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
  • "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me," words by Augustus Toplady (1776), music by Thomas Hastings (1830)
  • "The Rock that Is Higher than I," words by Erastus Johnson (1871), music by William G. Fischer (1871). Psalm 61:2.
  • "You Are My Hiding Place," words and music by Michael Ledner (© 1981 Maranatha! Music, Admin. by The Copyright Company). Psalm 32:7


  1. "Listen" (NIV, NRSV), "attend" (KJV) is qāshab, "hear, be attentive, heed." It is not a command to God, but a request.
  2. Carl Schultz, `āṭap, TWOT #1607.
  3. John E. Hartley, ṣwr, TWOT 1901a.
  4. Donald J. Wiseman, ḥāsā, TWOT #700b.
  5. Two words are used: `ōz, "strength, power," used primarily of God (Carl Schultz, `āzaz, TWOT #1596b) and migdāl, "tower," from the root gādal, "to grow up, become great," deriving from early times when the tower was the largest (greatest) structure in a town (Elmer B. Smick, gādal, TWOT #315f).
  6. For more on this, see my Names and Titles of God (JesusWalk Bible Study Series, 2006), pp. 18-19, 31-32, 45-50.
  7. For more on God's names of protection, see my Names and Titles of God (JesusWalk Bible Study Series, 2006), chapter 7, pp. 113-127.
  8. R. D. Patterson, sātar, TWOT #1551a.
  9. John E. Harley, ṣālal , TWOT #1921a.
  10. Donald J. Wiseman, ḥāsā, TWOT #700b.
  11. Meṣûdâ is related to meṣād, which means "mountain-height" or "summit"; then "fortress, castle" (Arabic maṣādun) (John E. Harley, ṣûd, TWOT #1885i).
  12. Ṣinnâ, BDB 857.
  13. R. D. Patterson,  sāḥar, TWOT #1486c. NIV translates it "rampart" in Psalm 91:4b. Holladay translates it as "wall." (Holladay 255a). The New English Bible and NIV translations as "rampart" follows a Syriac root with the idea of "walled enclosure, bulwark" (Marvin E. Tate, Psalms 51-100 (Word Biblical Commentary 20; Word: 1990), p. 448). The Targum saw it as a small round shield. "Technically the buckler is a small rounded shield usually worn on the forearm rather than carried in the hand." The large shield may be a better interpretation of sinnâ (James K. Hoffmeier, "Weapons of War," ISBE 4:1040-1041).
  14. Donald J. Wiseman, ḥāsā, TWOT #700b.
  15. `ûn, TWOT #1581a.
  16. Earl S. Kalland, dābar, TWOT #399b; Holladay, 68a.
  17. Qeṭeb, BDB 881.
  18. Qeṭeb, Holladay 317a.
  19. Ra` is "evil, distress, the opposite of what is good, and can refer to misfortune, calamity, and wickedness (G. Herbert Livingston, rā`a`, TWOT #2191a).
  20. Nega` is "stroke, plague, disease," with the basic idea of "to touch" or "to strike."(Leonard J. Coppes, nāga`, TWOT #1293a).
  21. Peten, Holladay 301b.
  22. Ronald F. Youngblood, tnn, TWOT #2528b.
  23. Leonard J. Coppes, ḥāshaq, TWOT #773. Tate, Psalms, p. 450.
  24. Walter C. Kaiser, shēm, TWOT #2405.
  25. Tate, Psalms, p. 457.
  26. Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 334.
  27. For a summary of various explanations see Allen, Psalms, p. 151; Allen follows T. H. Weir in seeing verse 1b as an indirect question. See also Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 431.
  28. Carl Schultz, `āzar, TWOT #1598.
  29. "Helper" in most of the titles of God is a participle form of the verb `āzar. More on this in my Names and Titles of God, pp. 137-138.
  30. `Āśā, "do, make," with emphasis on fashioning the object (TWOT #1708).
  31. Shāmar, TWOT #2414.
  32. "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," words by Elisha A. Hoffman (1887), music and refrain by Anthony J. Showalter.

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