Meaning of “God Will Cover You and Shield You” (Psalm 91:4 Explained)

a photo of the metallic captain America shield
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler (Psalm 91:4, ESV)  

The words of Psalm 91:4 have always given me comfort and reassurance, especially in times of adversity. I turn to this verse whenever I am afraid, vulnerable, or alone. I read it when everything in my life seems to be falling apart. And every time I read it, it reminds me that I’m not alone. God is with me in all of my troubles and trials.

The mere thought that God is with me helps to calm my fears and anxiety. Reading this psalm gives me the strength to endure and bear whatever comes my way, knowing that God is in control.

I believe I am not alone in seeking comfort and reassurance from this scripture. Many people have found strength to overcome their fears and anxiety by reading Psalm 91:4. This verse not only provides comfort to the anxious, but it also answers the questions of those who seek meaning and spiritual guidance in their lives.

Psalm 91:4 is God’s promise to cover and shield us in times of adversity. This verse is a testament to God’s faithfulness in protecting His people from all harm and danger. Psalm 91:4 captures the essence of divine protection and unwavering trust. This verse paints a vivid picture of God’s all-encompassing care, protecting His children from harm and providing a haven of peace in the midst of life’s storms.

Psalm 91 is a song of trust and faith in God. It uses literary devices such as imagery, parallelism, and repetition to help the reader feel the psalmist’s deep faith in God. The imagery in the psalm helps the reader visualize God’s protection. Parallelism and repetition serve to emphasize the psalmist’s confidence in God.

In our previous article, we discussed why many scholars believe Moses wrote Psalm 91. We found that the setting of Psalm 91 is a hostile wilderness, with threats such as wild animals (lions and snakes), invading armies, and demonic activity at night. These threats show that the psalmist is up against forces that are too powerful or too strong for humans to overcome, reinforcing the psalmist’s need for divine protection in Psalm 91.

The psalmist compares God to an eagle mother who cares for and protects her young. He also depicts God as a shield and buckler that shields him from enemy arrows.

The Avian Imagery of Psalm 91:4

In Psalm 91:4, the psalmist expresses his faith in God through both animate and inanimate imagery. He uses a bird’s pinion, shield, and buckler imageries to help us visualize God’s protection.

A headshot photo of an eaglet
An Eaglet Headshot Photo | Image by David Selbert

Let us now examine the imagery used in this verse.

“He Will Cover You with His Pinions”

The word “pinions” in this verse conjures up images of eagle wings. The phrase could also refer to the wing cover of the cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant in the sanctuary. The reference to the “secret place of the Most High,” which most likely refers to the sanctuary’s second compartment, lends credence to the cherubim’s wing cover view. In either case, the metaphor “pinions cover” alludes to God’s love and care.

For centuries, the majesty of the eagle has awed people all over the world. The eagle has been the subject of songs, poems, art, and designs for generations. In fact, many cultures around the world regard the eagle as a symbol of power, strength, and liberty.

The eagle is a powerful and majestic creature, and its protective nature is well-known. It is revered for its strength, majesty, and protective instincts. When eaglets are hatched, they are helpless, defenseless, and vulnerable. Because of the eaglet’s vulnerability, it is the mother eagle’s responsibility to protect it. The mother eagle fiercely defends her young against predators and teaches them to fly and hunt.

In Psalm 91:4, the psalmist uses the eagle’s protective instincts over its eaglets as a metaphor for God’s unwavering care for His people. This imagery evokes a mother eagle’s protective embrace, sheltering her young beneath her expansive wings. The eagle’s feathers provide warmth, comfort, and safety. Just as the eaglets are safe under the wings of the mother eagle, so are God’s people safe under His care. God’s presence shields us from the perils of the world.

What does “He will cover you with his pinions” mean? It means that God will protect and care for us in the same way that a mother bird protects and cares for her young. Thus, the pinions cover metaphor implies that God’s love and care are like an eagle’s wings, which can protect us from harm. This also implies that, like the eaglets, we must rely on God for our security and safety.

“Under His Wings You Will Find Refuge”

In Psalm 91:4, the psalmist employs the literary device of repetition and expansion. This method entails repeating a concept and then expanding on it. The psalmist expresses confidence in God’s protection in this case by saying, “He will cover you with His pinions.” He then goes on to say, “under His wings you will find refuge.” Thus, the two phrases mean the same thing: God will protect His people, but the second adds more information.

The phrase “under His wings you will find refuge” means that we can trust in God’s love, care, and protection in any situation. It also means that when we are feeling lost, scared, or alone, we can turn to God for help. We can be confident that God is always present and will never abandon us.

Just as a baby bird seeks refuge under its mother’s wings when it is lonely, cold, or feels threatened, God’s people are to seek refuge under God’s wings in times of adversity. We find comfort, security, and stability under God’s wings.

Other Instances Where God is Likened to a Bird

There are several other instances in the Bible where biblical writers compare God to a bird. Moses, for example, compares God to an eagle in the book of Deuteronomy:

“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings” (Deuteronomy 32:11, KJV). 

Moses further records in the book of Exodus, 

“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Ex 19:4). 

Other passages in which writers compare God to an eagle include Ruth 2:12, Psalm 17:8, Psalm 57:1, and Matthew 23:37.

“His Faithfulness is a Shield and Buckler”

A drawing of a buckler front and backside.
A Drawing of a Buckler | Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

The words “shield” and “buckler” are military terms. A shield is a type of body armor that is used in warfare. In ancient Near Eastern warfare, the quality of a shield was critical to the success of an army. A soldier without a shield was vulnerable to the enemy’s arrows and swords.

As a result, the ancients made their shields from the finest metals at the time. Armies invested in shields that could withstand a wide range of weapons.

A “buckler” or “rampart” was a small, round shield worn in one hand. It was typically constructed of wood or metal and covered in leather or cloth. Bucklers were used to protect the body from blows and arrows in ancient and medieval warfare. They were also used in battles and other forms of competition.

The psalmist likens God to a protective buckler that shields His people from their enemies.

In the context of the text, “His faithfulness is a shield and buckler” means that God’s faithfulness is a protective barrier that shields us from the attacks of the enemy. Thus, the phrase “His faithfulness is a shield and buckler” refers to God’s dependability and faithfulness in protecting His own.

In Psalm 91:4, the psalmist reminds us that we can rely on God’s faithfulness. God is dependable, trustworthy, and faithful. God’s “faithfulness” serves as both a shield and a buckler.

God shields His children in the same way that a “shield and buckler” protects troops from fatal combat injuries. So, the “shield and buckler” represent God’s unwavering commitment to protect His people.

Beyond Physical Protection: Unveiling the Deeper Meaning

God’s protection goes beyond physical safety. It also includes spiritual and emotional security. God’s shield protects us from the arrows of doubt, fear, and despair. God is our protector and sanctuary in all circumstances.

a man engaged in deep bible study in his study desk with a bulb hanging above him
Searching for Deeper Meaning | Image by Tima Miroshnichenko

Implications of the message of Psalm 91:4

Psalm 91:4 reminds us that we are helpless without God’s protective cover, shield, and buckler. We have no security outside of God’s protective wings. 

According to Psalm 91:4, nothing can harm us as long as God is our protector and defender. God will protect us from those who will stifle our success, growth, and development.

When we turn our backs on God, we expose ourselves to the enemy of our souls. God’s presence in our lives truly protects us from the enemy’s attack.

The Lord will not abandon us in our hour of need. God will cover and shield us. God wants us to experience His presence and protection in our lives.

Remember, any time you feel uncertain and vulnerable, you can find solace and strength under God’s protective wings.

Taken Together

Photo of a jig saw with a human hand organizing four pieces
Joining the Pieces Together | Photo by Mike van Schoonderwalt

So far, we’ve deduced that the phrase “He will cover you with his pinions” refers to God’s protection and care for us in the same way that a mother bird protects and cares for her young. This truth implies that, like the eaglets, we must rely on God for our security and safety. 

On the other hand, the phrase “under His wings you will find refuge” means that we can put our trust in God’s love, care, and protection in any situation. This means that we can have faith that God is always present in our trials and will never abandon us.

We’ve also learned that the phrase “His faithfulness is a shield and buckler” refers to God’s faithfulness as a protective barrier that keeps the enemy at bay. This discovery implies that God is dependable and faithful in protecting His faithful. 

Finally, we discovered that God’s protection encompasses both physical and spiritual aspects.

Psalm 91:4 reminds us that God is always with us, even in the darkest of times. He will shield us from all harm and danger, and He will provide a safe haven from life’s storms. 

You may have noticed that I don't run ads on this blog. This is because I aim to provide my readers with an ads-free and clutter-free experience. If you find my work inspiring, please consider supporting my ministry through our Ko-fi page or by pressing the button below. Your donations help maintain this website and enable me to create new spiritually enriching articles.

Next Posts in Psalm 91 Message Series

Who Wrote Psalm 91 and Other Frequently Asked Questions | A Brief Overview

What Does It Mean to Dwell in the Secret Place of the Most High? | Psalm 91:1 Breakdown

What Is the Meaning of “The Lord Is My Refuge and My Fortress”? | Psalm 91:2 Breakdown

What is the Meaning of the “Snare of the Fowler” and “Noisome Pestilence”? | Psalm 91:3 Breakdown

What Is the Meaning of “Terror by Night” and “Arrow that Flies by Day? Psalm 91:5 Breakdown