“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1
"We do not know who wrote this psalm. Some say it was David, but Jewish tradition claims it was Moses. The mention of the plague in the psalm reminds the Jewish people of the plagues of Egypt, so it is often called the Song of Plagues. Also, the language of Deuteronomy 32, which Moses wrote, is very similar.
The “secret place” in Hebrew is sayter (Strong’s #5643). It means a hiding, a covert in a mountain, a veil or covering, a protection, a defense, or a private or clandestine place. It comes from the verb that means to hide, keep close, conceal, or keep secret. Many Scriptures use this word though it is not always translated into English as “secret place”: “You are my hiding place” (Ps. 32:7); “I will trust in the shelter of your wings” (Ps. 61:4). Psalm 91 tells us that the secret place is a refuge from enemy attacks, whether by day or by night.
Some Jewish sages understand the terror, the arrow, the pestilence, and the destruction described in verses five and six as demons. So the psalm includes enemies from the spiritual realm. It is a reassuring psalm and a great one to have hidden in our hearts for the days ahead.
However, the many stories of Christians living under terrible persecution tell us that God does not always choose to keep His faithful ones from harm. So how are we to understand these words about God’s protection? While God always wants us to cry out to Him for protection and deliverance from our physical enemies, ultimately that secret place is the inner place. When Christian martyrs die, I believe they are in that secret place that no man can touch. Too often we focus on physical protection, so when God does not choose to protect, our faith is shaken. We need to focus on the secret place where no man, no enemy (natural or supernatural), can disturb or invade.
Paul possibly suffered more than any other follower of Jesus mentioned in the Bible. He lists his trials:
“in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (2 Cor.11:23b–27).
Yet, he seems to go through it all with grace, peace, joy, and an unwavering faith. When he and Silas were imprisoned, they sang and worshipped the Lord (Acts 16). When he was on a storm-tossed ship for over two weeks, he demonstrated no anxiety whatsoever, even as he watched the ship’s cargo being tossed overboard (Acts 27). The situation was so desperate that the crew took no time to eat for 14 days. Although Paul was not a sailor and only a passenger (and a prisoner), he spoke with such confidence and authority that the crew listened and obeyed. When he was bitten by a poisonous viper, he simply shook it off (Acts 28). There is no panic or fear of death.
How does one walk through such circumstances with such peace of mind? Paul lived in that inner place with God. It was so real to him that what he experienced in the flesh was of no consequence. His expressions of faith, recorded in Romans 8:38–39, were not mere words to Paul; he knew them to be true: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” These harrowing experiences did not separate him from God because that secret place was a reality to him."