Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
– Psalm 91: 1-3 (NIV)
David, who penned Psalm 91, was a king of Israel, but he was first a shepherd. That meant he spent his time, often alone, watching, leading, caring for and protecting the family flock. It was in the field that he began developing his intimate, awe-filled relationship with God. Every day he saw, up close and personal, the beauty of God’s creation – sunrises and sunsets, birds and animals, storms and stars. He knew God’s help in guiding him, and ultimately the sheep, to good pasture and gentle streams of water. He saw God’s power – and protection – in the storms and in the battles to keep his flock safe. And at night he was in awe of God’s beauty and majesty as he slept under starry nights.
In Psalm 91:3, he uses a term that we may not be familiar with. The “fowler’s snare”. Some versions say “the snare of a trapper.” Let’s talk about traps, for a moment.
When I think about being trapped, I think of being in danger, hopeless and helpless. People who hunt by trapping animals hide their devices in areas where the victims are likely to go, and they use bait to draw them there. Once caught, the animals don’t die (depending on the type of trap). Often, they are injured in the process and suffer and die slowly. For this reason, there has been a push to use more humane traps that don’t cause prolonged suffering for the animals.
However, our enemy doesn’t care about “being humane.” He wants to take us out anyway he can. If he can’t have us for eternity because we are already God’s child, he will settle for taking us down, paralyzing us, torturing us and generally trying to neutralize our mission in the world.
What does this being trapped really look like in our lives?
Our enemy uses several tactics, but I believe the main one is depression. Let’s define that. According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Symptoms include sadness, tiredness, anger, irritability, trouble focusing, anxiety, no energy, craving unhealthy foods, sleep issues, isolation, and that’s not the end of it. People who are depressed fight to live their everyday lives, fight to walk in joy, fight to have hope that anything will ever get any better.
Does that sound like what Jesus wants for us? He said in John 10:10
… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Do you know what the first part of that very same verse is?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
Do you see that? God is not the source of our problems, our depression. Satan – our mortal enemy – is!
The New Living Translation puts it this way,
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
You can’t get much clearer than that!
So, what is a “fowler’s snare?”
Did you ever try to sneak up on a bird? I remember trying that as a kid, trying to catch a bird – and it never worked. But with a fowler’s snare it would have been much easier, at least theoretically. I’m not good at throwing things, like balls or anything else either. If I’m ever throwing something at you, you are perfectly safe! You won’t even have to duck. But I digress.
A fowler’s snare is a trap specifically designed to trap birds. Sometimes it is something thrown at or around the legs of birds, to keep them from flying. Sometimes it is a net with or without weights on the edges. The idea is to throw the net over the bird, trapping it, bringing it back down to the ground, if necessary, and preventing it from flying away. Isn’t that what depression feels like sometimes. A person is going along just fine, when Whap! Some heavy weight – out of the blue – pulls them down and they just can’t get back up!
But He will save you from the fowler’s snare. The enemy wants to bring you down and keep you down. The Lord says He wants us to soar like the eagles. Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) tells us that
…Those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
He wants us to soar like an eagle, not be trapped, helpless or hopeless.
But what if we are already grounded? Stuck in the mud? We don’t have to stay there. Psalm 103: 1-5 gives hope… a way out of the trap.
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit (trap)
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
So, when the LORD pulls us out of the pit, He cleans us off, crowns us with loving kindness, and sets our feet on solid ground… so we can fly with the eagles.
One thing I’ve noticed in my life. If I’m in the pit, wallowing in my own issues (like resentment, self-pity, fear… whatever!), the Lord will not automatically reach down and pick me up out of that mess. I have to ask Him. I have to want to be out of the pit. I have to reach up, look at Him, and cry out, “Abba… Daddy … Help!” And I have to let go of the junk holding me down. I have to remember – and trust – “His benefits.” He forgives my sin, He heals my diseases, He crowns me with love and compassion, He satisfies my desires with good things. He is God and I’m not, and He’s perfectly capable and sufficient to take care of me and all my issues.
just like Jesus taught us to pray,
I ask that You’d “deliver me from evil,”
save me from the traps of the enemy.
Help me to see the enemy’s bait for what it is, bait –
no matter how enticing it looks.
when I fall into the pit of depression and despair,
help me to call out for You and Your deliverance, forgiveness, restoration and healing.
Thank you for being My Heavenly Father,
for Your unfailing love and mercy.