What is Psalm 91?

In this post, let us take a deeper look at what Psalm 91 is, who wrote Psalm 91, when it is written, and how it was written.

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We start our course by asking the question, What is Psalm 91?

First off, we must first define what Psalm is.

According to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, Psalm came from the Greek word psalmos (5568) primarily denoted as “a striking or twitching with the fingers (on musical strings)”; then, “a sacred song, sung to musical accompaniment, a psalm.”

It is interesting to note that the Greek word Psalmos is a translation of the Hebrew word mizmor, which means “melody of praise.”. However, in Hebrew, the book of Psalms is known as Tehillim.

So, the proper name of Psalm should be Tehilim, which means words or glory of praise.

Psalm 91 is originally written in the Hebrew language and is divided into 16 verses.

Who wrote Psalm 91?

Since Psalm 91 is part of the book of Psalm, you might quickly answer that it was David who wrote Psalm 91.

While the majority of the book of Psalms was written by King David, it is equally true that not all of them are written by him.

It is quite interesting to note that Psalm 91, in Hebrew text, didn’t have any specific author. Thus, the identity of the writer of Psalm 91 has not been fully established by scholars. 

However, there are two people who are thought to have possibly written Psalm 91. It could be Moses or King David.

David or Moses?

According to the Midrash, the Jewish interpretation of the Talmud, Psalm 91 was composed by Moses when the Tabernacle was completely built in the desert.

Another reason some scholars believe it was Moses who wrote this psalm is that it followed Psalm 90, which is a psalm written by Moses.

It is believed that Psalm 91 was written by Moses but compiled by King David.

On the other hand, the reason people believe it was David who wrote Psalm 91 is that in the LXX or the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew text, Psalm 91 was attributed to King David.

Moreover, the language used in Psalm 91 is reminiscent of the words used by King David in some parts of his Psalms — words such as “strongholds” and “shields.”

There’s also another theory that Psalm 91 was written by King David with the help of King Solomon.

When was Psalm 91 written?

As scholars don’t agree who the writer of this Psalm is, they also don’t completely agree as to when this Psalm was written.

If this was written by Moses, some commentators explained that it could have been written during the 40 years of Israel in the wilderness, after they have been rescued by God through Moses from the hands of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

If this was written by David, then we can conclude that it was written during his reign as King, which is from about 1000 to 962 BCE.

There are also people who suggest that the Psalm was written for Israel before, during, and after their exile to the kingdom of Babylon when they experienced great defeat in the face of their enemies and deliverance from their enemies.

To give you a short answer, we really don’t know when Psalm 91 was exactly written. However, if you know, please let me know. I would love to hear from you.

How was Psalm 91 written?

There are different ways for you to divide Psalm 91 and what I’m about to share with you is I believe the most systematic and easiest way.

So, Psalm 91 is divided into two sections. The first section is from verses 1-14, which acts as wisdom literature. 

The second half is the reiteration of God’s prophetic oracles that express divine promises, which runs from verses 15-16.

The first section is further subdivided into the following:

  • Verse 1-2 = express confidence
  • Verse 3-8 = record the different threats which God will deliver you from
  • Verse 9-13 = deliverance through angelic beings

Psalm 91’s outline includes:

  • Section I: Confidence (verses 1-2)
  • Section II: encouragement (verses 3-13)
  • Section III: Oracle (verses 14-16)

I hope this should give us a general glimpse of what Psalm 91 is. In the following chapters, we are going to dig deeper into each element of Psalm 91 and have a better understanding of its significant meaning.


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