The Fathers on Psalm 91

This post is part of an ongoing series offering translations of various early Church father’s commentaries on the Psalms.

Psalm 91

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”
He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,
from the destroying plague,
He will shelter you with his pinions,
and under his wings you may take refuge;
his faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
nor the plague that ravages at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch;
the punishment of the wicked you will see.
Because you have the Lord for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
trample the lion and the dragon.

Because he clings to me I will deliver him;
because he knows my name I will set him on high.
He will call upon me and I will answer;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and give him honor.
With length of days I will satisfy him,
and fill him with my saving power.

Athanasius: “When you want to encourage yourself and others in Christian living, since hope in God brings no regret but makes the soul fearless, praise God by saying the words in Psalm 91.”[1]

Pseudo-Athanasius: Through this psalm David introduces the person of the man who trusts the Lord. Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.” He is his helper, place of refuge, and Savior. And he encourages him not to be afraid of the spiritual enemies’ evil workings. He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague, He will shelter you with his pinions, and under his wings you may take refuge; his faithfulness is a protecting shield. You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon: not even if as in the darkness of night they bury snares in entrapments of great skill, nor if as at noon (that is, in daytime) they openly dare to work harm. They are especially unable to injure the one who is righteous in virtue—Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come—whereas he sees them compensated by God with a complete fall. For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You can tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon. He also commands the holy angels concerning him, to guard him in every word and action so that he not only be saved from evil stumblings, but also shatter beneath his feet the rebellious dragon and his princes, while receiving nothing of their evil. And he introduces the person of God who promises to give the one who hopes in him the reward of his faith—With length of days I will satisfy him, and fill him with my saving power—salvation and eternal life. It is the salvation of those who fear God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will indeed bring them into the new world, and has promised them that they will reign with him.[2]


[1] Benjamin Wayman. Make the Words Your Own: An Early Christian Guide to the Psalms (Brewster, M.A.: Paraclete Press: 2014), 17.

[2] Syriac. CSCO 387, SYRI 168V, pg. 61. For Greek and Latin, cx. PG 27 399-404.

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