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)

Psalm 91:3 provides comfort and hope for those who feel vulnerable and trapped due to betrayal, hostility, or entrapment from people they trust. In this article, we will explore the meanings of the phrases “snare of the fowler” and “noisome pestilence” and how they relate to our everyday experiences. Through our exploration of this verse, we will see that even in the face of life’s greatest challenges, we can find comfort and protection in God.

Have you ever felt trapped or helpless due to manipulative people who prey on your flaws and vulnerabilities? It’s possible that coworkers or friends have taken advantage of you, or that enemies acting as friends have hurt you. If you can relate to these experiences, you’re not alone. Betrayal, disappointment, hostility, and entrapment can leave us feeling vulnerable and uncertain about how to move forward.

Psalm 91:3 speaks to these fears and anxieties by using vivid imagery to describe the threats that the author faced. The author of Psalm 91 felt trapped like a bird caught in a fowler’s snare, unable to escape. The threats he faced were as sudden as a pestilence and stealthy as a fowler’s snare. However, the author found comfort in the belief that God could deliver him from these threats and protect him from harm.

Before we continue, we encourage you to read our previous posts on the meanings of “dwelling 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 deeper understanding of Psalm 91:3. In addition, check out our next installment in this Psalm 91 series, where 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

The author of Psalm 91:3 employs two metaphors: “fowler’s snare” and “noisome pestilence,” which would have been familiar to the primary audience but may be unfamiliar to us. We must first understand what these figures meant to God’s people back then before relating them to our present-day circumstances.

In order to gain a better understanding of the meaning of Psalm 91:3, we will devote some time to analyzing what these symbols represent. By doing so, we will gain a better understanding of this verse and its implications for our lives.

Surely He Will Deliver You

In Psalm 91, the psalmist exudes unwavering faith in God’s protective power, confidently asserting that God will rescue us from harm. This steadfast belief shines through in the declaration, “Assuredly, He shall liberate you from the traps of the hunter and the perils of deadly diseases.”

The psalmist in Psalm 91:3 declares his unwavering faith in God’s protective power. He leaves no room for doubt about God’s protection over his life. He is confident that God is not only the architect of the salvation of his people, but also the one who brings it to fruition. The Psalmist puts his trust in God alone, knowing that no one else can protect him.

The psalmist was firm in his belief that God could be relied on to protect and rescue His followers. He believed that no malicious plot could succeed against him as long as he remained under God’s watchful eye.

In Psalm 91, the message is clear: even in the toughest situations, we can have faith in God to shield us.

Now, let’s delve into the meaning of the term “snare of the fowler.”

From The Snare of the Fowler

Who was a fowler? 

In biblical times, a fowler was an individual who caught birds using traps and snares. These traps would typically be set in areas where birds congregate, such as trees, caves, and watercourses. Once the trap was set, the fowler would hide in plain sight and wait for an unsuspecting bird to trigger it, successfully capturing the bird.

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) 

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

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

The phrase “snare of the fowler” is a metaphor for Satan’s evil schemes, devices, traps, and snares that he uses to draw innocent souls into sin. Satan, like a fowler, sets traps and snares to catch unsuspecting souls.

The fowler’s snare is an effective metaphor for the devil’s traps and snares because both involve the element of deception. The fowler sets his traps in areas where birds congregate, luring them with bait and concealing the traps to ensure they are caught unawares. Similarly, Satan disguises his traps as something enticing, luring people into sin with false promises and tempting them with worldly pleasures.

The metaphor of the fowler’s snare emphasizes the danger of Satan’s traps, as they can lead people into spiritual and moral ruin. Just as a bird caught in a snare is powerless to free itself, those caught in Satan’s traps can find themselves trapped in a cycle of sin, unable to escape without divine intervention.

Therefore, it is essential to remain vigilant against the devil’s schemes and to seek God’s protection and guidance in overcoming sin. The metaphor of the fowler’s snare serves as a powerful reminder that the enemy is always seeking to ensnare us in his traps, and we must remain alert and vigilant against his schemes.

The fowler in Psalm 91 also represents manipulative and exploitative people who seek to ensnare others into sin or compromise their beliefs. They use deceptive tactics such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and isolation to control and manipulate their victims. We must remain vigilant against their schemes and rely on God’s protection and guidance to avoid spiritual and moral ruin.

What or who does the “fowler” represent?

The fowler in Psalm 91:3 represents Satan, as well as manipulative and exploitative people. This metaphor is apt because Satan is portrayed in scripture as a master tempter and deceiver, much like a fowler. His ultimate goal is to lure unsuspecting souls into his net and ensnare them in his web until they die without hope or God. Satan employs a variety of techniques, but his most effective weapons are stealth and surprise. He stalks his prey and strikes when they least expect it.

The fowler represents not only Satan but also manipulative and exploitative people who use others for their own gain. They set traps and snares for their victims, taking advantage of their vulnerabilities and weaknesses. These traps may be in the form of lies, flattery, or false promises, designed to lure people into harmful situations. The consequences can be devastating, leading to physical, emotional, and spiritual harm.

Like a fowler, these manipulative individuals often hide in plain sight, disguising their true intentions and presenting themselves as trustworthy and reliable. They use their charm and charisma to gain the trust of their victims, only to exploit them later.

The metaphor of the fowler’s snare highlights the danger of Satan’s tactics and the need to remain vigilant against his schemes. Additionally, it serves as a warning against manipulative and exploitative people who use similar tactics to ensnare and harm others.

In other words, the fowler in Psalm 91:3 represents Satan and those who seek to exploit and manipulate others. Thus, we must remain alert and vigilant against their schemes, and seek God’s protection and guidance in everything we do.

Ways Satan Tempts People

The following are some of the ways Satan tempts people:

Offering pleasure or material rewards:
Satan tempts people by offering them the things they desire, such as wealth, power, or pleasure. He knows that these things can be alluring and lead people away from God. The temptation of material possessions can become so great that people may do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, even if it means compromising their morals or values.

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. He seeks to undermine people’s self-confidence and create feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, leading them to seek solace in sinful behavior.

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. These emotions can cloud people’s judgment and lead them to act impulsively, without considering the consequences of their actions.

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. He seeks to create confusion and uncertainty, leading people away from God’s truth and toward sinful behavior.

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. He seeks to create selfishness and self-centeredness, leading people away from God’s love and grace.

Satan tempts people in many different ways, but they all have the same goal: to lead people away from God’s truth and love. It is essential to remain vigilant against his schemes and seek God’s protection and guidance in avoiding spiritual and moral ruin.

Other Places The Figure of the Fowler Is Mentioned

The metaphor of the fowler’s snare appears several times in the Bible. For example, in Psalm 124:7, the psalmist testifies that God helped him and others escape the fowler’s trap:

"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:

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

God is both the source and object of our confidence, as our confidence stems from His all-encompassing protection.

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

In Psalm 91:3, the people of God are likened to a helpless bird in the hands of a fowler. The metaphor signifies that we are as vulnerable as a helpless bird in the hands of a fowler and that our enemy, the devil, can take advantage of our weakness.

But we don’t need 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 has the final say.

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 pestilence?

In biblical times, there were only two possible causes of “noisy pestilences”: either God’s judgment or poor hygiene. Pestilences were viewed as manifestations of God’s wrath against idolatry and disobedience.

According to the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, natural factors like poor hygiene could have caused pestilences.

“[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 Judgments 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

Inadequate sanitation conditions may have contributed to the proliferation of certain diseases. 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. 

God is the One who initiates, carries out, and consummates deliverance.

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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