Meaning of “Snare of the Fowler” and “Noisome Pestilence” in Psalm 91:3

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)

In this post, we will examine the meanings of the phrases “snare of the fowler” and “noisome pestilence” in Psalm 91:3.

Have you ever had to deal with manipulative people who prey on your flaws and insecurities? Do you feel like you’re constantly targeted by people looking for ways to exploit your flaws and vulnerabilities? Have you ever been taken advantage of by a colleague or a friend? Have you been hurt by enemies who masquerade as friends? Are you afraid of both visible and hidden dangers?

If you can relate to any of the above questions, you are certainly not alone. We’ve all been taken advantage of and manipulated to the point of feeling trapped and helpless at some point in our lives.

It can be difficult and emotional to experience betrayal, disappointment, hostility, or entrapment from people we trust. These experiences can leave us feeling vulnerable and uncertain about how to move forward. However, it’s important to remember that we are not alone in experiencing these feelings and that there is hope for healing and finding strength to move past these challenges. Psalm 91:3 offers a message of hope and comfort, reminding us that the Lord is always with us and will protect us.

Psalm 91:3 reminds us that God is our protector and deliverer from both visible and hidden danger. In this article, we will explore the meaning of this verse and how it can help us to overcome our fears and anxieties.

The language of Psalm 91 indicates that the author was in a life-threatening situation. The author felt trapped like a bird caught in a fowler’s snare, unable to escape. The threats he faced were as sudden and as stealthy as a pestilence. He understood that only God could save him from the fowler’s snare and the pestilence.

As a side note, see our previous posts on what it means to “dwell in the most secret place of the Most High” (Psalm 91:1) and “the Lord is my refuge and my fortress”(Psalm 91:2) for a better understanding of Psalm 91:3.

You can also read our next instalment in this Psalm 91 series, in which we discuss the meaning of “God will cover you and shield you” in Psalm 91:4.

The focus of Psalm 91:3 is on God’s readiness and willingness to rescue His people from various perils.

the deep things of God

Returning to Psalm 91:3, the author introduces two metaphors: “fowler’s snare” and “noisome pestilence.” These metaphors were familiar to the primary audience but may be unfamiliar to us. As a result, before we can apply the text to our current circumstances, we must first understand what the figures meant to God’s people at the time.

What did the two metaphors mean to the primary biblical audience at the time?

Let’s start with the meaning of “surely He will deliver you

Surely He Will Deliver You

The psalmist starts by declaring that, “Surely he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.” There is no room for uncertainty in the heart and mind of the psalmist.

The psalmist was confident that God can protect his people from the schemes of the enemy and from the deadly pestilences. This is his declaration of faith that no evil plot against him could succeed as long as God was watching over him.

The phrase surely He will deliver you is an affirmation by the psalmist 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.

He declares that God is dependable when it comes to protecting and delivering his people from harm. He is always ready to protect and deliver his people from harm.

The psalmist believed that no one can harm him as long as he remained in the shadow of the Almighty.

The psalmist’s message is that we can rely on God’s protection even in the most trying situations.

Let’s now consider the meaning of the “snare of the fowler.”

He Shall Deliver You From The Snare of the Fowler

Who was a fowler? 

A fowler was a person who caught birds using traps and snares. Such a person would set his traps and nets in areas where birds would congregate, such as trees, caves, and watercourses. The fowler would then hide in plain sight and trigger the trap when an unsuspecting bird came near, eventually capturing it.

The above definition of a fowler as someone who sets snares to catch birds is supported by Proverbs 6:5. 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) 

After defining what a fowler is, let’s go over what the phrase “snare of the fowler” means. 

What does the phrase “snare of the fowler” mean? 

The phrase “snare of the fowler” is a metaphor for Satan’s evil schemes and devices that he uses to ensnare innocent souls into sin. The fowler’s snare is a metaphor for the devil’s traps and snares that he uses to ensnare people in sin. 

What or who does the fowler represent?

The fowler represents Satan as well as manipulative and exploitative people.

Satan as a Fowler

Psalm 91:3 depicts Satan as a fowler. This is an apt metaphor given that he is portrayed in scripture as a master tempter and deceiver. He is a merciless soul hunter who works in the shadows to tempt and entice God’s people, much like a fowler. Satan, like a fowler, lures unsuspecting souls into his net. His intention is to ensnare his victims in his web until they die hopeless and without God. He employs a variety of techniques, but stealth and surprise are his most effective weapons. He stalks his prey and strikes when they are least expecting it.

Ways Satan Tempts People

Some of the other ways Satan tempts people are as follows:

Offering pleasure or material rewards:

Satan tempts people by offering them things that they desire, such as wealth, power, or pleasure.

Preying on people’s fears or doubts:

Satan preys on people’s insecurities and doubts by telling them they aren’t good enough or will never be able to accomplish their goals.

Provoking anger or resentment:

Satan may try to stir up negative emotions in people, such as anger or resentment, in an effort to lead them astray.

Misleading people with lies and deceit:

Satan may try to deceive people by presenting false information or leading them to believe things that are not true.

Encouraging people to pursue their own desires above all else:

Satan may try to encourage people to focus solely on their own desires and needs, rather than considering the well-being of others or the will of God.

These are only a few of the ways Satan tempts people.

Manipulative and Exploitative People as Fowlers

The fowler also represents those who seek to ensnare and trap others into sin or cause them to compromise their beliefs. The fowler also represents those who seek to ensnare and trap us in sin, as well as those who seek to cause us to compromise our beliefs. Manipulative individuals can be dangerous and difficult to deal with because they frequently use deceptive tactics to achieve their objectives. They are adept at masking their true intentions. They use techniques such as gaslighting, guilt tripping, playing the victim, preying on fears, and isolation to manipulate their victims.

We must never forget that the Lord is our ultimate refuge and strength, no matter how trapped we feel in the clutches of manipulative and exploitative individuals. He is our deliverer, and He can help us stand firm against the devil and his minions’ schemes. We must trust Him to protect us and guide us out of the darkness into a safe and secure place. The Lord will never abandon us, and we can always turn to Him when we are in trouble.

Other Places in the Bible Where the Figure of the Fowler is Mentioned

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). Proverbs 3:26, NKJV 

God is both the source and the object of our confidence. Our confidence stems from God’s all-encompassing protection.

What does the helpless bird in the fowler’s hands represent?

The people of God are likened to a helpless bird in Psalm 91:3. We are as helpless as a helpless bird in the hands of a fowler; our enemy, the devil, is able to take advantage of our weakness.

But we don’t have to be afraid because The Lord will “deliver” us from the devil’s snares. God will thwart the devil’s plans and help us triumph over evil. Even though evil forces are out to get us, God ultimately has the final say. 

Example of God Overriding the Enemy’s Plan

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. However, God overruled their evil schemes. God informed His people in advance about the enemy’s plans. He further 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 not by Nehemiah’s cleverness, but by God’s providence.

The Metaphor of the Fowler as a Warning

The metaphor of the “snare of the fowler” is a reminder of the dangers that can befall us in our Christian walk. It is a warning to be aware of the traps and snares that the enemy may set for us. It is a reminder that we must be vigilant and alert to the schemes of the enemy. The metaphor also serves as a reminder of God’s protection and care for His people. He is our refuge and our shield, and He will protect us from the snares of the enemy.

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

The secret place of the Most High is our safest refuge.

Proverbs 6:5 warns and encourages us to:

Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler. Proverbs 6:5 NIV 

Let us now look at the meaning of “noisome pestilence” in the Bible.

He Will Deliver You From Noisome Pestilence

What is a “noisome pestilence”? 

A noisome pestilence is a plague or a deadly pandemic-level disease that spreads quickly and causes great suffering and death. The Hebrew word for pestilence is deber. However, deber refers to more than just a plague. It is also translated as a pest or a malicious tongue.

What were the two main causes of pestilences? 

In biblical times, “noisy pestilences” were caused by one of two things: God’s judgment or poor hygiene. Pestilences were viewed as manifestations of God’s wrath against idolatry and disobedience. 

Pestilences, according to the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, could have been caused by natural causes such as poor hygiene.

“[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

As a result, we may conclude that a “noisome pestilence” is a contagious disease that is lethal, noxious, and dangerous. 

Examples of Pestilences as Judgment from God

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

And so it stands to reason that pestilences were one means by which God disciplined His people for their transgressions.

God wants to keep us safe from all dangers and threats. The good news is that we can rely on God to keep us safe from plagues and pestilences that bring death to the masses. 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

Evil will not befall you and plague will not approach your habitation. 

Above all, God will deliver us from the most deadly of all plagues: the plague of sin.

Example of a Pestilence caused by Poor Hygiene

There are some examples of diseases whose spread could have been exacerbated by poor hygiene. A case in point was leprosy which was highly contagious. To stop the spread of leprosy in the camp of Israel  the Lord instructed:

“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 a highly contagious disease that 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.

Overall, this example shows how poor hygiene can contribute to the spread of disease and the need to take steps to maintain good hygiene in order to prevent the spread of illness.

Surely He Will Deliver You

The psalmist writes, “Surely he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.”

The psalmist is confident that God will protect his people from the schemes of the enemy and from the deadly consequences of sin.

He declares that God is dependable when it comes to protecting and delivering his people from harm. There is no room for uncertainty in the heart and mind of the psalmist. The psalmist’s message is that we can rely on God’s protection even in the most trying situations.

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.

The psalmist’s words are a reminder that God is faithful and dependable. He is always ready to protect and deliver his people from harm.

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.

Taken Together

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. Both metaphors serve as powerful reminders of God’s love, care, and protection of His people. 

The message of Psalm 91:3 is simple: we are safe in God’s hands regardless of the situation, circumstance, or struggle.

The Deep Things of God

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 felt as though…

“terrors startled him on every side and dogged his every step” (Job 18:11, NIV). 

I have some 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 in his ministry. 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. He will deliver us from both the open and hidden danger. God will deliver us from entrapment and safeguard us against the devil’s destructive plagues.

In this study, we have explored the meaning of the “fowler’s snare” and the “noisome pestilence.” We have also looked at the definition of the fowler and pestilence in the context of the Bible times, as well as other places in the Bible where the two figures are mentioned. Finally, we have drawn parallels between the fowler and the Satan, and encouraged confidence in God’s protection and assured His deliverance from all harm. May we all take comfort in God’s protection and assurance of His deliverance from all harm.

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.

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