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Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 - Confidently taking the test in the wilderness

Updated: Jan 15, 2022

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1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *

abides under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 He shall say to Yahweh, "You are my refuge and my stronghold, *

elohay in whom I put my trust."


9 Because you have made Yahweh your refuge, *

and the Most High your habitation,

10 There shall no evil happen to you, *

neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over you, *

to keep you in all your ways.

12 They shall bear you in their hands, *

lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; *

you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.

14 Because he is bound to me in love, therefore will I deliver him; *

I will protect him, because he knows my Name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; *

I am with him in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him to honor.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, *

and show him my salvation.


This is the Psalm to be read aloud in unison or sung by a cantor on the first Sunday in Lent, Year C, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will follow an Old Testament reading from Deuteronomy 26, where Moses instructed the Israelites to harvest the first fruits, writing: “You shall set it down before Yahweh eloheka and bow down before Yahweh eloheka. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that Yahweh eloheka has given to you and to your house.” This pair will precede a reading from Paul’s letter to the Jews of Rome, where he wrote, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” All will accompany the Gospel reading from Luke, where is written: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”

In these selected verses above, twice I have restored the proper name written by David, which is “Yahweh.” I have placed that name in bold type, to replace the standard (and incorrect) translation as “the Lord.” In addition, I have restored the Hebrew that is “elohay,” which has improperly (although, again a standard) been translated as “my God.” While the addition of “my” is correct, that becomes a construct of the plural form of “el,” which is “elohim.” Because “my” is stating the possessive case of “gods,” the truth of the word is it states “Yahweh” is the possessor of “gods,” which He calls “my gods.” The plural number of “gods” possessed by Yahweh becomes a reference to “Yahweh elohim” (found written eleven times in Genesis 2), where the “elohim” are souls in human flesh that are married to Yahweh – His possessions, His wives. For David to use the word as his possession, he can only claim to be one of the many like him, all of whom are Yahweh elohim; so, David can claim association to those others of the plural number, as his divine family [Christians call “my elohim” “brothers,” all in the name of Jesus, all a Christ].

As a psalm selected for (and pared down to fit) the theme in Lent, the omitted verses all place focus on evil and wickedness, singing of snares and arrows targeting winged creatures, with terrors in the night and darkness about. Those have been parsed away to keep a pleasant focus on the protection of Yahweh. Because this accompanies the Gospel reading in Luke, which tells of Jesus being tested by the devil in the wilderness, the removal of dark verbiage says Lent is not a time to worry or fret. It is a time to know one’s soul is protected by Yahweh, as one of His elohim.

The first verse is shown to sing [NRSV], “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, abides under the shadow of the Almighty.” In that, the use of the Hebrew word “elyown” is given capitalized status, as “Most High.” This is due to this word being accepted as a name of God; but this should be seen in the same line of thought that exposes “elohay,” where that word also has received capitalized status (as “God”). This is wrong, because Yahweh is more than a god. This is because Yahweh is the Creator of gods. Yahweh IS, while “elohim” are His creations, none of which elevate to His divine height and status. To call Yahweh “God” is to toss Him into a bucket with all the spiritual entities human beings have no concept of, including those “gods” that take great pride in misleading the souls of humans (like Satan in the wilderness tempting Jesus). Thus, the word “elyown” should be read as a confirmation that the “elohim” (of “elohay”) are Yahweh’s, because they are “gods” of a “higher” level of being (verses the devil, who is not an “elyown”).

The aspect of “dwelling” [from “yō·šêḇ”] must be seen in support of divine possession. There is nothing that can contain Yahweh, because Yahweh is the Creator of all things. The Hebrew word translated as “shelter” [“bə·sê·ṯer”] better means “a covering, hiding place, secrecy,” where that “dwelling” is an inner presence that is hidden from view. This then becomes relative to “the shadow” [“bə·ṣêl”], which says Yahweh is an inner light that cannot be seen, because it is within the place of “dwelling;” so, that inner light is blocked by the flesh without, which casts a “shadow” of that inner presence. See "the shadow" like people depict a "halo." This concept is confirmed in the Hebrew use of “day,” which has been translated as “the Almighty,” but refers to “land” or “field.” This use places focus on how light makes things grow on the earth. One’s body of flesh (and soul within – another “shadow”) becomes “most high” [“elyown”] when Yahweh has taken possession.

Verse two then makes it clear that “Yahweh” is the one that elevates a soul-body, as David sang [NRSV], “He shall say to Yahweh, "You are my refuge and my stronghold, elohay in whom I put my trust." This translation is incorrect, as it applies the third person (“he shall say”) when the first person is written in “’ō·mar,” which says, “I will say.” The desire to place the third person keeps Yahweh (the next word written) external, but the first person places Yahweh within, as the "shadow" that "dwells" as one with David. The presence of Yahweh within him means Yahweh speaks through David, as “I,” because Yahweh possesses David’s soul, with David an “elyown” who could then claim “elohay,” saying I am speaking because Yahweh has made me [“my”] one of His “angels in the flesh” [a way of understanding “elohim”].

There, David wrote the word “maḥ·sî,” which is the “shelter” that took the place of “secrecy” in verse one, but also means “refuge.” This means Yahweh within becomes a “secret refuge,” where one’s soul can feel strength. The translation of “ū·mə·ṣū·ḏā·ṯî” as “and my fortress” or “and my stronghold” gives the impression that oneself has strength without Yahweh entering, which is wrong. The root word means “net” or “prey,” which should be read as one’s soul-body having become caught in the “fortress” that is Yahweh. It is then from seeing this helplessness without Yahweh as leading to the word ‘elohay,” which says “my gods.” In that, “my” is repeated in construct, where possession is both a stronghold and that which makes one of Yahweh’s “gods.” All leads back to Yahweh being named, so it is Yahweh that says (of David), “my prey” and “my angel in the flesh.” To then conclude the verse repeating the first person, it is Yahweh who then says, “I will trust in him,” where “him” is David, so David will have the faith of Yahweh as his strength.

In the jump to verse nine, the use of “maḥ·sî” is repeated, where “my refuge” is now explaining “because you Yahweh.” Both verses use the same combination of words – “Yahweh maḥ·sî” – which confirms that Yahweh is David’s “shelter.” Here, it is worthwhile to realize that in all of Psalm 91 there are only two specific references to “Yahweh,” with both linked as being David’s “refuge.” Again, the possessive use of “my” makes this connect to “Yahweh,” so Yahweh is providing “shelter” to one He possesses; and, through that possession that David acknowledges, the addition of “my” says the presence is mutually welcomed. That is then seen confirmed in a repeat of “elyown,” which says that having Yahweh as a “refuge” makes David be one that has been divinely “elevated higher” by that inner presence that secretly covers his being. David called that “your dwelling place” or “your inhabitation,” which was his soul and body.

Verse ten must then be seen as highly relative to the concept Christians have of Lent … being the test of Satan in the wilderness. The NRSV puts this clearly by showing the English translation to state: “There shall no evil happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.” In this, the construct “bə·’ā·ho·le·ḵā” [“your dwelling” or “your tent”] matches the word used to end verse nine: “mə·‘ō·w·ne·ḵā” [“your dwelling place”], The difference now is David singing that evil will not enter into a “sanctuary,” which is a “tabernacle.” This becomes David saying the test of the wilderness is secured, when one’s body of flesh (and soul within) has become a Tabernacle of Yahweh. The “tent” has been elevated to “most high” status as saying, “Yahweh resides here.”

When verse eleven is shown to sing [NRSV], “For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways,” the use of “mal·’ā·ḵāw” (“his angels”) becomes another statement of Yahweh possessing “angels,” where the truth of “malak” says “ his messengers.” In Genesis 1 is written “’ĕ·lō·hîm” thirty-two times [all translated as “God”], which is the truth of “angels.” Angels are divine creations of Yahweh, with some [a third] of those “angels” having fallen. That fall took place after Yahweh created “Yahweh elohim” [eleven times written in Genesis 2] and commanded all angels [elohim] to serve mankind. In the Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus responded to “the devil” as one of those fallen angels, who (like all “angels” and “messengers” created by Yahweh) are sworn to serve Yahweh, telling that eternal spirit “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Thus, Jesus successfully completed his forty days in the wilderness; and, according to Matthew 4:11, “angels came kai were ministering to him.”

When verse twelve then is seen as a quote used by Satan to tempt Jesus – “They [the angels] shall bear you in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone” – this deflects focus from David having been made an “angel” or “messenger” of Yahweh, due to him being divinely possessed by Yahweh’s Spirit. Being one of the many “elyown” and “eloheka” that are Yahweh’s elohim, David was himself an “angel” that was like all possessed by Yahweh, so they all were “hands” of Yahweh on the earth. When “hands” is understood to be a statement about the servants of Yahweh, it is those “hands” that become “uplifted” by the presence of Yahweh [as “most high – “elyown”], so they do not “strike stones with their feet.” This needs further examination.

In Matthew’s telling of Jesus in the wilderness, Satan told him (basically), “If you are hungry, tell Yahweh to turn these stones into hot, steaming loaves of bread.” Jesus retorted, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” From that, one should see “dashing your feet on stones” as metaphor for the “stone” tablets that are Mosaic Law. Those “stones demand a soul be “lifted up,” in order to go beyond the surface meaning; and, the words of the Law are “stones” until one transforms them into the spiritual food that they are, Realization of that comes through the mouth of a divine elohim, having been told the deeper meaning of the words in the Law. Thus, to misrepresent any of the Law is the meaning of “striking those stones with one’s feet.” Yahweh’s presence within one of His wives will prevent that from happening.

When the NRSV shows David singing in verse thirteen, “You shall tread upon the lion and adder; you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet,” this needs to first be seen as what one will do with one’s “feet,” when possessed by Yahweh and being elevated to being one of his “angels” or “messengers.” In this, the “lion” needs to be seen as those who use the Law to strike fear in others. They become metaphor for the predators that cause people to run from Yahweh, rather than embrace Him as a spouse – a possessing Husband. To translate “adder” from “wā·p̄e·ṯen” [meaning “a venomous serpent”] means it is easy to overlook the connection of the “serpent” in Eden [outcast into the world, therefore fallen] as Satan, who is always the tempter in the wilderness. Thus “the lion and the adder [or cobra]” becomes metaphor for the attacks Jesus withstood from the devil, who used the Law [and this psalm] in a poisonous or venomous way to try and get Jesus to turn away from Yahweh. Those tests will be “trampled underfoot” by a soul-body being the possession of Yahweh and within His “refuge.”

In verse fourteen, the capitalization of “Name” by the NRSV needs to be seen as their recognition that this “Name” is that of “Yahweh.” The meaning of “šə·mî,” from “shem” [“name”], says the soul of David was married to Yahweh; and, in that marriage David took on the “name” of Yahweh, as His wife [a “Yahweh elohim”]. This is where the Hebrew word “yā·ḏa‘” takes on the ‘Biblical’ meaning of “to know.” To “know” another deeply means to penetrate or be penetrated by; and, this becomes Spiritual knowledge, which has been brought on by “love.” The meaning here, following the threats posed by Satan tempting Yahweh’s servant-wives, is the ability to “trample down” such threats comes from divine marriage, where the love of Yahweh [reciprocated] lifts one exceedingly “high,” so one can “escape” [be “delivered”] all dangers, by being “in the name of Yahweh” [which is “Israel”].

Verse fifteen then sings [NRSV], “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I am with him in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him to honor.” This begins with a soul married to Yahweh having an open line of communication, something ordinary human beings lack. Many will call upon Yahweh for help, but few who hear Him respond, knowing that as His voice within their brains. Not being married – soul to Spirit – means not being in His name keeps a clear message from being heard, over the din of Satan’s whispers. When one is able to hear the voice of Yahweh clearly, then one will be led to avoid “trouble,” while also being able to “rescue” others in distress, “honoring” the presence of Yahweh within by reaching out to those who are crying out for help, but unable to hear the voice of Yahweh. As such, David became the “voice” who spoke so others could likewise marry their soul to Yahweh.

When the last verse sings, “With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation,” the word translated as “life” is “yā·mîm,” which means “days.” In that word the element of light becomes synonymous with “life.” Conversely, the word for “night” becomes synonymous with “death” and “darkness.” When the “days” are “long,” this becomes metaphor for “eternal life.” The light of truth forever shines within the soul of those married to Yahweh. By not “seeing” the absence of light, their souls are promised to always be able “to see” the truth that leads one’s path to “salvation.” When the last word is “salvation,” coming from the root word “yeshuah,” this becomes David singing praise to the name that says “Yahweh Saves” – “Jesus.”

As a psalm chosen to be sung on the first Sunday in Lent, there is nothing somber about this song of praise. This signals the confidence that a soul must willingly enter into the testing of commitment one has as a wife of Yahweh. If one enters Lent with some “woe is me” attitude … about something miniscule, such as giving up chocolate or alcohol for little more than a month … then one certainly is not married Spiritually to Yahweh. One totally misunderstands how Lent becomes a statement about one’s own soul being tested as a wife of Yahweh. When one is divinely in union with Yahweh, in His refuge, nothing can harm one. For Lent to be seen as a somber period of self-sacrifice, one is saddened by the loss of self-identity. That sadness alone has one tripping over the stones of Scripture and being ankle bitten by the poison whispered by that wily serpent. Lent then becomes a reflection of how to fail, rather than how to happily prepare to ‘ace a test’ one has studied for, well in advance.

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