Snare of the Fowler and Noisome Pestilence Meaning and Message (Psalm 91:3 Explained)

Photo of a cockerel moving in between basket trap containers.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. (Psalm 91:3 KJV)

Psalm 91:3 depicts God as our safety and defense against open or hidden threats or harm. In this study, we will explore the meanings of “snare of the fowler” and “noisome pestilence” in the Bible. We will also explore how we can apply God’s promises of protection found in Psalm 91:3 to our everyday experiences.

In our Psalm 91 study series, we have established that the psalmist composed this song in a wilderness setting. In that environment, he faced numerous threats, including roaming lions, snakes, and pestilences (Psalms 91:3, 10, 13). The psalmist felt like a trapped bird in a fowler’s snare, unable to escape due to these hostilities.

In Psalm 91:3, the psalmist used vivid imagery to describe his situation. According to the psalmist, the perils that he faced were as unexpected as a pestilence and as subtle as a fowler’s snare. However, the psalmist found comfort in the belief that God could deliver him from these perils.

The author of Psalm 91:3 employs two metaphors: “fowler’s snare” and “noisome pestilence.” While these metaphors may be unfamiliar to us, they were significant to the original audience. We’ll take the time to unravel the meaning behind these metaphors in order to better understand the deeper meaning of Psalm 91:3. As a result, we will gain a better understanding of this verse and its implications for our lives.

[Note: For more insight, follow the links at the bottom of this post to read our other Psalm 91 series articles.]

Let us now examine the meaning of each phrase in Psalm 91, including the metaphors that are employed.

“Surely, He Will Deliver You”

The phrase “surely, He will deliver you” shows the level of confidence the psalmist had in God’s ability to save him from danger. The psalmist was acknowledging God’s protection and presence in his life by making this declaration. He was affirming that God is dependable and trustworthy in regard to protecting and delivering His people from danger. There was no room for doubt in the psalmist’s heart and mind—he was certain that he could rely on God’s protection even in the most difficult situations.

The psalmist declares emphatically, “Surely He shall deliver thee.” This declaration establishes God as the actor—the one who brings about deliverance. Deliverance is always God’s work in the Bible. The Psalmist attributed his deliverance to God because he understood that God is the only One who can initiate, carry out, and complete his deliverance. He was certain that God was not only the author of his salvation but also the only One who could make it happen. The Psalmist places his trust solely in God, knowing that no one else can keep him safe.

The psalmist was confident that God would protect and rescue him from harm. He knew that as long as he was under God’s watchful eye, no evil plot could succeed against him.

Now that we have covered the meaning of the phrase “surely, He will deliver you,” let’s delve into the meaning of the term “snare of the fowler.”

“From the Snare of the Fowler”

Who was a fowler, according to the Bible?

In biblical times, a fowler was someone who caught birds with traps and snares. A snare is a type of trap used to capture birds. A fowler would place traps in places where birds congregate, such as trees, caves, and waterways. After setting the trap, the fowler would hide in plain sight and wait for an unsuspecting bird to set it off. The snare caught the bird when it set off the trap. The fowler would then capture the bird and slaughter 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)  

Who is the fowler in Psalm 91:3?

The fowler in Psalm 91:3 represents Satan, as well as manipulative and exploitative people who use evil tactics to entice us into falling into sin and compromising our faith. This metaphor is apt because Satan is portrayed in scripture as a skilled manipulator (John 8:44) and deceiver (1 Peter 5:8–9), much like a fowler.

Like a fowler, manipulative individuals often hide in plain sight, disguising their true intentions and presenting themselves as trustworthy and reliable friends. They exploit our vulnerabilities, fears, and weaknesses for their self-serving purposes. Employing charm and charisma as a facade, they initially gain our trust, only to later exploit it, causing us to fall prey to their deceitful intentions.

Manipulative people use deceptive tactics such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and isolation to control and manipulate others. These traps may be in the form of lies, flattery, or false promises, designed to lure people into harmful situations.

The consequences of such manipulations can be devastating, leading to physical, emotional, and spiritual harm. We must remain vigilant against their evil plots and rely on God’s protection and guidance to shield us from spiritual and moral ruin.

Now that we have defined who the fowler is, let’s explore the meaning of the phrase “snare of the fowler.”

What is the meaning of “snare of the fowler” in Psalm 91:3?

The phrase “snare of the fowler” in Psalm 91:3 is a metaphor for Satan’s evil schemes, devices, traps, and snares that he uses to lure innocent souls away from God and into sin. The snare of the fowler is anything—whether internal or external, subtle or overt, visible or invisible—that poses a danger to a believer’s life, impedes their walk with God, diverts their attention from following God, or is calculated to weaken and sever their relationship with God.

What does the fowler’s snare symbolize in Psalm 91:3?

The “Snare of the Fowler” is a metaphorical expression that refers to the traps or snares that hunters use to catch birds. In the context of Psalm 91:3, it is used to describe the dangers that threaten the soul of man, which are often hidden, subtle, and crafty. In Psalm 91:3, the psalmist compares the soul of man to a bird that is exposed to many dangers, including the snare of the fowler.

Satan tempts us in a variety of ways, but his most effective tools are stealth and surprise. He stalks us as his prey and strikes when we least expect it. Satan disguises his snares as something appealing, luring people into sin with false promises of worldly pleasures and treasures. His ultimate goal is to lure unsuspecting souls into his net and ensnare them in his web until they die without hope in God.

Those caught in Satan’s snare, like a bird caught in a snare, find themselves trapped in a cycle of sin, unable to escape on their own. It takes God’s intervention to deliver His people from such hopelessness.

Thus, we must remain alert and vigilant against Satan’s schemes to destroy us and seek God’s protection and guidance in everything we do.

Is the figure of the fowler mentioned elsewhere in the Bible?

The metaphor of the fowler’s snare is used several times in the Bible. In Psalm 124:7, for example, the psalmist testifies that God helped him and his friends escape the fowler’s snare:

"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 broke the fowler’s snare to free David and his friends from its grip. He can do the same for you and me today.

The fowler metaphor is also used again in Proverbs 3:26. In this verse, Solomon affirms God’s willingness to protect His people from danger:

"The Lord will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught." (Proverbs 3:26, NKJV)

Like the author of Proverbs 3, we can place our confidence in God because He is our source of strength and protection. We can trust Him to watch over us and keep us safe in all circumstances.

Having discovered the meaning of the snare of the fowler, let us now delve into what the meaning of noisome pestilence is in Psalm 91.

“And from the Noisome Pestilence

The psalmist also declares that God will deliver His people from “the noisome pestilence.”

The Hebrew word for pestilence is deber, which is translated as “plague,” “perilous pestilence,” “pest,” or “malicious tongue” in various Bibles. However, the term deber refers to more than just a plague; it also refers to nocturnal demonic activity. According to the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, deber in a personified sense, represents a “demon or evil deity.” We read:

Deber is one of the three proverbial causes of death on a wide scale. It is attested some 50 times in the Bible along with war (sword, blood) and famine (mainly in Jer and Ez). Besides this empirical meaning, it seems to be used a number of times in a personified sense as a demon or evil deity (Hab 3:5; Ps 91:3, 6; cf. Hos 13:14).

Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2002, pp. 231-232

What is the meaning of “noisome pestilence” in Psalm 91:3?

A noisome pestilence is a plague or a deadly pandemic-level disease that spreads quickly and causes great suffering and death. However, the phrase “noisome pestilence” is also associated with misfortunes, calamities, and nocturnal demonic activities that cause widespread death.

In ancient biblical times, pestilence was viewed as a manifestation of God’s wrath and judgment against idolatry and disobedience. 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

So it stands to reason that pestilence was one way God disciplined His people for their transgressions.

Pestilence was also attributed to poor hygiene. According to the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, natural factors like poor hygiene could have caused pestilence.

“[Pestilence] refers to acts of God’s judgment in Biblical Hebrew, which may include disease but more broadly includes any disaster with fatal consequences” [emphasis mine].

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

Inadequate sanitary conditions may have aided the spread of certain diseases. A case in point was leprosy, a highly contagious disease. The Lord gave the following instructions to stop the spread of leprosy in the camp of Israel:

“Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. Leviticus 13:45-46 NKJV

Leprosy was often associated with poor hygiene and living conditions, and those who were infected were required to live outside of the camp to prevent the spread of the disease.

It is clear from the preceding that God’s judgment on His rebellious people, as well as poor hygiene, were the reasons for the spread of pestilence in biblical times.

Having considered the meaning of the entire verse, let us now focus on the message of Psalm 91:3

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What Is the Message of Psalm 91:3?

The message of Psalm 91:3 is that God is ready and willing to protect us from natural and man-made dangers, both hidden and visible, that threaten our stability, well-being, and security in all aspects, that is, body, mind, and spirit. God is also willing to deliver us from both the visible and invisible snares and traps set by our archenemy, Satan. The message of the psalmist is that no matter what our circumstances are, we can find safety and security in God. In Psalm 91:3, the psalmist makes it clear that God is not only our dwelling place but also our safety in a hostile world.

When the devil tempts us to sin, let us remember God’s promise of deliverance from the fowler’s snares and the noisome pestilence. Psalm 91:3 is God’s promise to protect us from both visible and invisible dangers.

How Can We Escape the “Snare of the Fowler”?

We can escape the “fowler’s snare” in five ways:

1. Turn to God as Our First and Only Recourse

When the psalmist was faced with a life-threatening situation, the first thing that came to mind was to turn to God. The psalmist in Psalm 91 sought refuge in God when he was faced with threats in his life. He turned to God, believing that God would deliver him from disease, disaster, evil plans, and evil powers. Similarly, we must turn to God in all circumstances, whether they are dangerous or not. We must make God our habitation in order to claim the reality that comes with promises of protection, such as:

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

2. Cultivate an Intimate Relationship with God

The foundation of spiritual strength lies in a deep and personal connection with God. This involves regular prayer, Bible study, and seeking God’s guidance through worship and fellowship with fellow believers. As we grow closer to God, we become more attuned to His voice and recognize Satan’s deception more readily. The word of God encourages us to draw closer to God:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8 NKJV)

3. Overcome Spiritual Complacency

Spiritual complacency is a state of being content or satisfied with one’s spiritual condition, even if it is not growing or thriving. It can be a dangerous state, as it can lead to a decline in faith and a vulnerability to sin. Satan thrives in darkness, and one of his most effective tactics is to lull us into spiritual complacency. We must actively seek God’s presence and engage in spiritual disciplines on a regular basis to maintain our spiritual vigilance. When we become spiritually stagnant, we become more susceptible to Satan’s deceptions.

Those who are comfortable and secure in their faith are at risk of becoming complacent and neglecting their spiritual growth. This is the reason that the epistle to the Hebrews warns us against spiritual lethargy:

"Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.  (Hebrews 2:1 NKJV)

4. Don’t Allow Others to Manipulate You

Satan often disguises himself as an angel of light in order to deceive us into doing his bindings. We must develop spiritual discernment in order to recognize Satan’s deceptions and avoid being led astray by Satan and his henchmen. The word of God admonishes us to avoid manipulative people:

He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart; Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. (Proverbs 26:24-26 NKJV)

5. Acknowledge God’s sovereignty

In the midst of spiritual battles, it is important to remember that God is sovereign over all creation. He is stronger than Satan, and He ultimately has control over our lives. Trusting in His power and relying on His grace can provide us with the strength to resist Satan’s temptations and walk in obedience to God’s will. This acknowledgment fosters trust and submission to God’s will. The psalmist acknowledged God’s sovereignty with these words:

The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19 NKJV)

How Can We Apply Psalm 91:3 to Our Lives?

The metaphors of the “snare of the fowler” and “noisome pestilence” in Psalm 91:3 represent both hidden and visible dangers that Christians encounter on their journey. The two metaphors remind us that God is able to protect and care for His people in any situation. Psalm 91:3 reminds us to be vigilant and alert to the enemy’s schemes, whether covert or overt.

We have all been betrayed by someone we trusted, manipulated by someone who preyed on our weaknesses, or deceived by a friend or family member who pretended to be our ally but was actually plotting against us.

Betrayal and entrapment by our confidants can leave us feeling vulnerable, isolated, confused, and even traumatized. Discovering that a friend has betrayed you may trigger feelings of anger and resentment. It’s not uncommon to feel confused about the motives and actions of a friend who betrays you.

These experiences can be painful and isolating, but Psalm 91:3 reminds us that we are not alone.

Psalm 91:3 assures us that we are not alone

You may be going through a difficult period in your life, and it may appear that there is no way out. It’s also possible that your life is as tumultuous as Job’s, who felt like “terrors startled him on every side and dogged his every step” at one point (Job 18:11, NIV). I have some good news for you: Psalm 91:3 is an assurance that God is with you and that He will protect you from all harm.

Every one of God’s children is tested and tempted, but the most important thing is to resist temptation in the power of the Lord. During his ministry, even when the apostle Paul faced adversity, he testified that he was “persecuted but not abandoned; cast down but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9).

Paul never surrendered or resigned to fate because he believed that God had not deserted him. God hasn’t forgotten about you, either. God will not abandon you or allow your destruction.

Is there a biblical story where God delivered His people from something akin to the “snare of the fowler” and “noisome pestilence?”

The story of Nehemiah exemplifies how the Lord foils the enemy’s evil plans.

The enemies of God’s people devised a plan to sabotage and obstruct the reconstruction of Jerusalem’s wall by the returning Jewish exiles from Babylon. However, God overruled their evil schemes and informed His people in advance about the enemy’s plans. He also gave them the strength to carry on with the work of rebuilding. 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

Nehemiah and the people of God built the wall with one hand while holding a weapon in the other. They worked with zeal and courage, and the Lord was with them. In the end, the wall was completed, and the enemy’s plans were foiled. The Lord had once again demonstrated His strength and faithfulness to His people.

The enemy’s plans were foiled by God’s providence rather than Nehemiah’s cleverness.

Prayer Points Based on Psalm 91:3

Protection from snares:

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the promise of protection from the snares of the enemy. Shield me from the traps and schemes set by those who seek to harm me. Grant me discernment to recognize these snares and the wisdom to navigate safely.

Deliverance from Deadly Pestilence:

Prayer: Lord, I lift up to you the concerns of my health and the health of those I love. In accordance with your promise in Psalm 91:3, I pray for deliverance from deadly pestilences, diseases, and illnesses. Cover us with your healing and protective hand.

Faith in God’s Saving Power:

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I declare my trust in your saving power. In moments of fear or uncertainty, remind me of the assurance found in Psalm 91:3. Strengthen my faith and help me lean on you for deliverance from all dangers.

Gratitude for Past Deliverance:

Prayer: Lord, I praise you for the times you have saved me from snares and protected me from harm. Thank you for your faithfulness. As I face new challenges, I trust that you will continue to be my refuge and fortress.

Intercession for Others:

Prayer: Father, I bring before you those who are currently ensnared by challenges or facing deadly situations. Extend your saving hand to them, providing deliverance and healing. May they experience the truth of Psalm 91:3 in their lives.

Final Thoughts

In this study, we have explored the meanings of “the fowler’s snare” and “the noisome pestilence.” We have discovered that God wants to keep us safe from all dangers and threats. We have also drawn parallels between the fowler and Satan and have also learned that we can rely on God to keep us safe from plagues and pestilences that bring death.

We have discovered that no evil plot against us can succeed when God is watching over us. No one can harm us as long as we remain in the shadow of the Almighty.

As you go about your daily routines today, do not fear the fowler’s snare and pestilence. Make God your fortress against the devil and his henchmen. You can be confident that God will protect you both now and in the future. Psalm 91:3 assures us of God’s love, care, and protection over our lives.

So, next time you fall victim to betrayal and manipulation by both friends and foes, remember God’s promises to deliver you from all manner of dangers, both visible and invisible. God is our safety and defense in all circumstances of life, including the perilous ones.

Remember, God wants to deliver us from the most deadly of all plagues: the plague of sin.

Meditate on these verses:

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

I pray that no evil befalls you and no plague approaches your habitation in Jesus' name.

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