Psalm 91 talks about living under God’s protection. It details various dangers the believer will be kept from. In sum, “Because you have made the LORD—my refuge, the Most High—your dwelling place, no harm will come to you” (Psalm 91:9-10).
Similar sentiments are expressed in other verses. Some take these verses at face value: if we walk with the Lord, nothing bad will happen to us. Others add that, if bad things do happen, it’s due to unbelief or hidden sin.
These thoughts aren’t wholly false. Overall, things will go better if we walk with the Lord. That said, neither scripture nor experience bear this out entirely.
Experience alone tells us to expect hard times. A number of scriptures promise the same. Jesus Himself said, “You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
Perhaps a better way to understand verses like Psalm 91 is through the lens of death and resurrection. Jesus suffered immensely during his earthly ministry, not to mention on the cross. No one would suggest He suffered because of unbelief or hidden sin.
Ultimately, because Jesus was raised from the dead, no harm came to Him, just as Psalm 91 promises. When applied to Jesus, we can’t say following God will spare someone from all harm. Resurrection is the only way Psalm 91 makes sense in Jesus’s case.
This applies to us as well. Scripture tells us we will experience death and resurrection physically but also spiritually (Rom. 6:11, 8:11). We fellowship in Christ’s sufferings, death, and resurrection psychologically and mystically throughout our earthly lives (2 Cor. 4:10-11; Php. 3:10).
Scripture and experience categorically deny that we can go through this life without suffering. But if we experience Christ’s resurrection out of suffering and death, then ultimately no harm comes to us as Psalm 91 promises.
Viewing Psalm 91 (and similar verses) through the lens of death and resurrection keeps us from having to shut our eyes to the hardships of life. There is also no need to twist or ignore scripture in order to maintain unbiblical beliefs. Even more important, we can know Jesus fully without rejecting aspects of Him in favor of pet theologies.