Psalm 91:3 Breakdown
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. (Psalm 91:3 KJV)
We’ve all met our fair share of crafty individuals. I’m talking about people who are constantly and cunningly looking for ways to exploit our flaws and vulnerabilities. Such people thrive on inflicting harm, suffering, and even death upon others.
The author of Psalm 91 was experiencing life-threatening conditions. These encounters were akin to an innocent bird being captured by a fowler or a sudden pestilence. Only God could deliver the psalmist from the fowler’s trap and the pestilence.
In our previous posts, we explain what it means to “dwell in the most secret place of the Most High” and what the phrases “the Lord is my refuge and my fortress” means in Psalm 91:1-2.
In this post, we will examine the meanings of the phrases “snare of the fowler” and “noisome pestilence” in Psalm 91:3. Once you are done with this breakdown of Psalm 91:3, be sure to read our next installation where we discuss the meanings of pinions, wings, shield, and buckler in Psalm 91:4
The two metaphors are powerful, and they serve as powerful reminders of God’s enormous love and concern for His people. The psalmist is certain that only God can shield His people from the two threats mentioned in this verse.
These metaphors were familiar to the primary audience, but may be unfamiliar to us as the secondary audience. As a result, before applying the text to our current situation, we must first understand what the figures meant to God’s people at the time.
Join us as we explore Psalm 91:3 to learn more!
In Psalm 91:3, the psalmist reflects on God’s promises to deliver His people from danger. He refers to two specific threats as “fowler’s snare” and “noisome pestilence.”
The metaphor of the fowler’s snare appears several times in the Bible. For example, in one of the later psalms (Psalm 124:7), the psalmist testifies that God helped him and others escape the fowler’s trap. He writes:
Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. (Psalm 124:7 KJV)
The Lord provided a way out by breaking the fowler’s snare and releasing David and his companions.
Another place where the fowler metaphor is used is in Proverbs 3:26. In this verse, Solomon affirms God’s willingness to deliver His people from snares. Solomon writes:
The LORD will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught (Proverbs 3:26, NKJV).
God is both the source and the object of our confidence. Our confidence stems from God’s all-encompassing protection.
Surely He Shall Deliver Thee
This verse begins with the word “surely” which expresses certainty. The psalmist has no doubt about God’s protection. He is certain of God’s deliverance that he states, “surely He shall deliver thee.”
Such a personal description of God indicates that the psalmist was familiar with and confident in God’s protection. He was writing from a personal experience with God.
The psalmist declares emphatically, “Surely He shall deliver thee.” This reminds us that deliverance from danger is never accidental; it is always the result of a divine act.
Deliverance is initiated, carried out, and consummated by God.
We are kept safe from harm and peril by God’s providence, not by our cunning.
Now, let’s define “fowler” and “fowler’s snare.”
From the Snare of the Fowler
Who is a fowler in the Bible? A fowler is a bird catcher who uses traps and snares to catch birds. He casts his net and traps in areas where birds congregate, such as trees, caves, and watercourses. The fowler then hides in plain sight and attacks unwary prey without warning, eventually capturing it.
Proverbs 6:5 supports the above definition of a fowler as someone who sets snares to catch birds. We read:
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler. (Proverbs 6:5 NIV)
What is the meaning of the “snare of the fowler”? The term “snare of the fowler” refers to Satan’s evil schemes and devices that he uses to lure unsuspecting souls into sin.
Who or what does the fowler represent? The fowler represents Satan, who is constantly setting traps for us to fall into sin. Satan, like a fowler, works in the shadows to tempt and entice God’s children to sin.
Satan uses a variety of methods to lure, but his most valuable weapons are stealth and surprise. He lays in wait and strikes his victims when they least expect. His goal is to keep his victims trapped in his web until they die, hopeless without God. Powers of evil may want to annihilate God’s people, but God overrides their plans.
The helpless bird in this verse represents us God’s people. We are prey to our adversary, the devil, just as a defenseless bird is to the fowler. We are objects and targets of the powers of darkness who want to annihilate us.
We don’t need to fear him because the Lord will “deliver” us from the devil’s snares. The Lord will break the fowler’s nets and traps. He will override and frustrate the devil’s evil schemes to rescue His people.
The story of Nehemiah is a good example of how the Lord frustrates the enemies’ evil plans. The enemies of God’s people devised a plan to sabotage and obstruct the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. But God overruled them and informed His people of their evil plans. We read:
"When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work." (Nehemiah 4:15 ESV).
The enemies’ scheme and snares were not defeated and frustrated because of the cleverness of Nehemiah, but because of God’s providence.
The good news for us is that God will shield us from all the snares and traps that the wicked set before us. God will protect and deliver us from both visible and unseen threats. Our safest place of refuge is in the secret place of the Most High.
He Shall Deliver Thee from Noisome Pestilence
What is a “noisome pestilence”? It is a dangerous pandemic-level disease that may arise as a result of God’s judgment or other natural causes, and it typically results in widespread death.
How did we arrive at this conclusion? Read on to find out.
In the phrase “Noisome Pestilence” the adjective “noisome” appears alongside the word “pestilence.” The plague was dubbed “noisome pestilence” because of how quickly it spread throughout the ancient world.
However, the Hebrew word for pestilence, deber, refers to more than just a plague. Deber can also be translated as a pest or a malicious tongue.
As a result, we can conclude that a “noisome pestilence” is a lethal, noxious, and dangerous disease. It is a pandemic of epic proportions.
While the term “noisome pestilence” is open to interpretation, one thing is certain: pestilences were viewed as manifestations of God’s wrath against idolatry and disobedience.
In Bible times, pestilences could be caused by natural causes such as poor hygiene. They could also be the result of divine judgment.
Pestilence, according to the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, “refers to acts of God’s judgment in Biblical Hebrew, which may include disease but more broadly includes any disaster with fatal consequences.”
Several verses in the Bible indicate that pestilences can result from God’s judgment. For example, in Deuteronomy, Moses warns Israel that if they break their covenant with God, He will send pestilence among them until it consumes them from the land He had given them. We read:
The Lord will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess. (Deuteronomy 28:21 NKJV)
God later threatened to send a plague upon them as a punishment for their idolatry in the book of Jeremiah. We read:
When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. (Jeremiah 14:12 NKJV).
Pestilences were one of the ways God punished His people for their sins.
The good news is that we can rely on God to keep us safe from plagues and pestilences that bring death to the masses. God wants to keep us safe from all dangers and threats. The psalmist reminds us to make God our refuge:
Because thou hast made the Lord, my refuge, the Most High, thy habitation, no evil shall befall thee, nor shall any plague approach thy dwelling" (Psalm 91:12-13).
We can depend on God’s protection even in the most difficult situations, such as illness. He heals us from all diseases. Above all, God will deliver us from the most deadly of all plagues: the plague of sin.
As evidenced by the preceding, the fowler’s snare and the Pestilence are unmistakable metaphors for the dangers and threats we face in this life. And the good news is that we are safe in God’s hands.
The psalmist declares, “Surely he shall deliver thee.” This was his acknowledgement of God’s protection and presence in his life. This is an assurance that no evil plot against us will succeed as long as God is watching over us. No one can harm us as long as we remain in the shadow of the Almighty.
You may be experiencing a difficult time, and it may appear that there is no way out of your current situation. It’s possible that your life is as turbulent as Job’s, who once felt as though “terrors startled him on every side and dogged his every step” (Job 18:11, NIV). Here is the good news for you: God has not forgotten about you.
Every one of God’s children is tested and tempted, but the most important thing is to resist temptation in His power.
Even the apostle Paul encountered adversity; he wrote that he was, “persecuted but not abandoned; cast down but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9).
Paul never surrendered because he believed that God had not deserted him. God has also not forgotten about you.
The psalmist wants to make it clear in Psalm 91:3 that God is not only the dwelling place of the righteous, but also their safety in a hostile world.
Psalm 91:3 serves as a reminder that God will shield us from both natural and man-made dangers. God will deliver us from entrapment and safeguard us against the devil’s destructive plagues.
As you go about your daily routines today, do not fear the fowler’s snare and pestilence. Remember that God is your fortress against the devil and his henchmen. You can be confident that God will protect you both now and in the future.