What does Psalm 91:13 mean?
ESV: You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
NIV: You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
NASB: You will walk upon the lion and cobra, You will trample the young lion and the serpent.
CSB: You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the young lion and the serpent.
NLT: You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
KJV: Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
NKJV: You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
Verse Commentary:
This continues the theme of the passage, symbolizing the safety a person has when they are protected by God (Psalm 91:11–12). Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament imply that God-believers are invincible and immune from all harm, in all ways. On the contrary, life still presents difficulties and dangers (Psalm 3:1–2; 73:2–3; John 16:33). Jesus explicitly refuted poor interpretations of these verses when He resisted Satan's temptation (Matthew 4:5–7). A believer cannot presume God will supernaturally defend him when he is careless or arrogant. A person needs to obey godly wisdom to have a better chance of avoiding catastrophe (Proverbs 1:7; 9:11–12).

There are instances where God has used overt, miraculous protection. Some of those events involve these very dangers. When Jesus addressed seventy-two of His followers who returned from a preaching mission, He referred to this passage. He told them, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you" (Luke 10:19).

The apostle Paul experienced an extremely literal version of this verse while kindling a fire on the island of Malta. A viper emerged from the fire and attached itself to Paul's hand. However, the viper did not wound or kill Paul; Paul simply shook off the viper and threw it back into the fire (Acts 28:1–6). The Bible describes the Devil as both a lion and a serpent (1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:7–9). Although he is vicious and sly, believers can be victorious over him by humbling themselves before God, by casting all their anxiety on God, by being sober-minded, by staying alert, and by resisting Satan using faith (1 Peter 5:6–9).
Verse Context:
Psalm 91:5–13 points out that those who trust in the Lord have nothing to fear because the Lord watches over them. This continues the theme introduced in the prior passage. This segment is notable in that it was cited by the Devil when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:5–6). Jesus responded to Satan's attempt at twisting Scripture with additional Scripture and a better perspective (Matthew 4:7). Trust in God's sovereignty and goodness does not mean an absolute expectation of safety.
Chapter Summary:
The psalmist expresses his trust that God is a source of safety. He uses various dangers as symbols of the terrors which God's people do not need to fear. When God has resolved to protect someone, nothing can overcome that safety. Jesus refuted inappropriate use of this promise when being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:5–7). Those who love God, and honor Him, can count on His provision and protection, and know that nothing happens without His approval.
Chapter Context:
This psalm includes similar phrases to psalms 90 and 92. The theme of this song is trust in God, a common theme in Scripture. Notable parallels can be found in 2 Samuel 22:31, Psalms 9, 37, 40, 84, and 118, Proverbs 3:5–6, Proverbs 14:26, Isaiah 26:3, Nahum 1:7, John 14:1–6, and Hebrews 11. In Psalm 91 the writer reveals what the Lord does for those who trust in Him. Verses 11 and 12 were cited by Satan when tempting Jesus in Matthew 4:5–6.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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