Angel Commander

Reading through the Psalms, I came to Psalm 91, which is probably best known as the text Satan quotes to Jesus in His wilderness temptation.

The original reads:

Because you have made the LORD–my refuge, the Most High–
your dwelling place,
no harm will come to you;
no plague will come near your tent.
For He will give His angels orders concerning you,
to protect you in all your ways.
They will support you with their hands
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:9-13 HCSB).

In the Temptation, this is where Satan (mis- or ab-) uses this text:

Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

He will give His angels orders concerning you, and

they will support you with their hands
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God” (Matthew 4:5-7 HCSB).

Jesus refuses to test the Father by distorting humble faith into arrogant exhibitionism. Instead of trusting His good Father, Satan was trying to get Jesus to undermine the Father’s authority and usurp that authority for Himself instead of submitting to it.

This is not the only text that speaks of summoning angels to Jesus’ defense. The other text comes at the end of Matthew’s gospel account, at His arrest in Gethsemane. Peter drew one of the swords they had brought with them and cut off the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. In response, Jesus says this:

“Put your sword back in place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54 HCSB).

Jesus knew Psalm 91, and knew that He had access to over 70,000 angels to come to His defense. In the Old Testament, a single angel killed 185,000 Assyrians by Himself in a night (2 Kings 19:35). One. By himself. What would 12 legions be able to do, especially in defense of their Lord?

Yet, Jesus’ point to Peter is that He needs neither man’s nor angel’s swords for His defense, because Jesus knew Psalm 91. Here’s the rest of the Psalm (that Satan conveniently omitted):

You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the young lion and the serpent.

Because he is lovingly devoted to Me,
I will deliver him;
I will exalt him
because he knows My name.
When he calls out to Me,
I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble.
I will rescue him and give him honor.
I will satisfy him with a long life
and show him My salvation (Psalm 91:14-16 HCSB).

The One who perfectly trusted in Yahweh as His refuge trampled the head of the serpent, “as it is written.” Jesus was completely devoted to the Father, who delivered Him from death (which had no claim on Him). The Father highly exalted Jesus, seating Him at His right hand, from which He will return to judge the living and the dead. Having conquered death, He dies no more.

Jesus’ accomplishment of the whole of Psalm 91 means that Psalm 91 is true for us, as well. We take refuge in Yahweh, and though we die, no harm comes to us. We will trample the serpent’s head (Romans 16:20); we escape the fangs of the prowling lion (1 Peter 5:7). We will be delivered. We will be exalted to be like Jesus, for we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). Whenever we are in trouble, He is there, answering our cries.

In Jesus, we are satisfied with long life–eternal life–and are shown His salvation.



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