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What does it mean that He will give his angels charge over you (Psalm 91:11)?

give his angels charge over you

Angels are spiritual beings who assist God. One task assigned to angels is to carry out God’s sovereign protection over humans. In a time of crisis, the psalmist was assured:

For He [Yahweh] shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone
(Psalm 91:11–12, NKJV).

The phrase give charge over in Psalm 91:11 is a rendering of a Hebrew verb meaning “to command, give an order, or charge someone to do something.” The New Living Translation states, “For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.” The New International Version reads, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” God is the One commanding protection; the angels are merely His agents to carry it out.

When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he misquoted this verse (leaving out the words in all your ways): “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (Matthew 4:6, NKJV).

The patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament recognized God’s supreme guidance and protection as He gave angels charge over them wherever they went (Genesis 19:15; 24:7; 32:1; 48:16; 2 Kings 6:17; Isaiah 63:9). When He shut the mouths of lions and safeguarded men from fiery flames, even ungodly kings like Nebuchadnezzar and Darius acknowledged that the God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego gives His angels orders to protect and rescue those who trust in Him (Daniel 3:28; 6:22).

In the New Testament, God’s sovereign protection and guidance through angels continues (Matthew 18:10; Acts 8:26). While caught in a violent storm at sea, on the brink of shipwreck, the apostle Paul was visited by an angel who reassured him of God’s protection. Paul told the men onboard, “But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said” (Acts 27:22–25, NLT).

After Peter and the apostles were imprisoned for preaching the gospel, God commanded His angel to deliver them back to the task of saving souls: “An angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then [the angel] told them, ‘Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!’ So at daybreak the apostles entered the Temple, as they were told, and immediately began teaching” (Acts 5:19–21, NLT).

At the time of His arrest, Jesus told the disciples not to resist the soldiers: “Put away your sword,” Jesus ordered them. “Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?” (Matthew 26:52–53, NLT). God gave His angels charge over Jesus to guide and protect Him throughout His life (Matthew 2:13, 19–20; 4:11; Luke 22:43).

The Lord’s faithful servants are still under the constant care of angels. God gives them charge over us. Of course, there are the times when God allows His servants to suffer for His own good purposes, and instances of martyrdom and persecution have existed through all ages. That does not mean the persecuted are not under the care of angels in their travails. God does not forsake them. In fact, we could view martyrs as having received “the greatest deliverance possible—entering into God’s presence” (Fernando, A., “Pestilence May Come Near You,”, accessed 1/9/24).

However God chooses to deliver, the fact remains that, throughout history, God has used angels as one means of protection. He has often directed His swift and powerful messengers—“his angels like the winds . . . like the flames of fire” (Hebrews 1:7, NLT)—to deliver His loyal followers from harm (see 1 Kings 19:5–7; Psalm 78:23–25; Acts 12:6–11).

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What does it mean that He will give his angels charge over you (Psalm 91:11)?
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This page last updated: January 5, 2024