Counting of the Omer and Psalm 91:
Preparing for the Gift
James Scott Trimm
The days between Passover (particularly the First Fruits offering) and Shavuot are the days of the Counting of the Omer. Passover commemorates the redemption of the firstborn (firstborn and firstfruits are the same word in Hebrew) by the blood of the lamb. Shavuot commemorates the receiving of the gift of Torah at Mount Sinai. The Counting of the Omer recalls the journey to Sinai, getting ready to receive the gift at Mount Sinai. First comes redemption, then a time of purification, and then we may received the gift. This parallels the redemption of the believer. First we are redeemed, then we must prepare ourselves to receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
During these days of preparing to receive the gift Moshe Aveynu (Moses our Father) before the Torah was even given on Mount Sinai, Moshe wrote what is now the oldest part of our Bibles (unless one includes the Book of Enoch) the 90th and 91st Psalms. A tradition recorded in the Midrash Rabba says of this Psalm “it was composed by Moshe at the time when he ascended Mount Sinai because he was afraid of the harmful spirits.” (Num. R. xii, 3)
The Jerusalem Talmud indicates that Psalm 91 was traditionally used to give relief to those stricken by shedim (demons):
In Jerusalem they used to recite “The Song of the Evil Spirits”
on the Sabbath for the relief of a stricken person. Which is it?
The Sefer Shimmush Tehillim (Book of the Use of the Psalms) says of Psalm 91:
After speaking this Psalm and the preceding one (Psalm 90),
over a person tormented by an evil spirit, or one afflicted by
an incurable disease, in the name of El Shadai, then pray
humbly, “Let it be your set-apart will, Oh my Elohim, to
take from son of the evil spirit by which
he is tormented, for the sake of your great, mighty and set-apart
name El Shaddai. May you presently send him health and let
him be perfectly restored. Hear his prayer as you once did
that of your servant Moshe when he prayed this Psalm. Let
this prayer penetrate to You as once did the set-apart incense
arose to you on high. Amen! Seleh!”
This was probably one of the Psalms David would sing in order to exorcise demons from King Saul:
Now the spirit of YHWH had departed from Sha’ul, and an evil spirit from YHWH terrified him.
And Sha’ul's servants said unto him: 'Behold now, an evil spirit from Elohim terrifies you.
Let our master now command your servants, that are before you, to seek out a man who is a skilful player on the harp; and it shall be, when the evil spirit from Elohim comes upon you, that he shall play with his hand, and you shall be well.'
And Sha’ul said unto his servants: 'Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.'
Then answered one of the young men, and said: 'Behold, I have seen a son of Yishai the Beit-Lechemite, that is skilful in playing, and a mighty man of valour, and a man of war, and prudent in affairs, and a comely person, and YHWH is with him.'
Wherefore Sha’ul sent messengers unto Yishai, and said: 'Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.'
And Yishai took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Sha’ul.
And David came to Sha’ul, and stood before him; and he loved him greatly; and he became his armour-bearer.
And Sha’ul sent to Yishai, saying: 'Let David, I pray you, stand before me; for he has found favour in my sight.'
And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from Elohim was upon Sha’ul, that David took the harp, and played with his hand; so Sha’ul found relief, and it was well with him, and the evil spirit departed from him.
(1Sam. 16:14-23 HRV)
And it came to pass on the morrow, that an evil spirit from Elohim came mightily upon Sha’ul, and he raved in the midst of the house; and David played with his hand, as he did day by day; and Sha’ul had his spear in his hand.
And Sha’ul cast the spear; for he said: 'I will smite David even to the wall.' And David stepped aside out of his presence twice.
(1Sam. 18:10-11 HRV)
And an evil spirit from YHWH was upon Sha’ul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand; and David was playing with his hand.
And Sha’ul sought to smite David even to the wall with the spear; but he slipped away out of Sha’ul's presence, and he smote the spear into the wall; and David fled, and escaped that night.
(1Sam. 19:9-10 HRV)
Let us now examine the Psalm itself as we prepare ourselves for Shavuot:
1 O you that dwell in the covert of Elyon, and abide in the shadow of Shaddai:
According to Rashi, this refers to the covering of the wings mentioned in verse four. Shaddai means literally “breasted one” and is a reference to the feminine aspect of Yahweh, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). The word for “wing” in the Hebrew is KANAF which also means “corner” and is used to refer to the four corners of the Tallit where the tzitzit are placed. The Tallit represents the Ruach HaKodesh covering us with her wings.
Yeshua said “when you pray, enter into your chamber, and shut the door…” This passage refers to the Jewish practice of using one’s tallit (prayer shawl) to create a private chamber over ones head in which to pray with some privacy even in a public location. According to the Book of Jasher, Enoch often concealed himself in his “chamber” (same word in the Hebew) and his soul was “wrapped up” in the instruction of YHWH (Jasher 3:2, 5)
2 I will say of YHWH, who is my refuge and my fortress; my Elohim, in whom I trust,
3 That He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome
Clearly Paul refers to this verse when he writes:
10 Henceforth, my brothers, be strong in our Adon, and in the might of His power:
11 And put on all the armor of Eloah, so that you may be able to stand against the
strategies of Akel Kartza,
12 Because your struggle is not with flesh and blood, but with principalities, and with authorities, and with the possessors of this dark world, and with the evil spirits that are under heaven.
(Eph. 6:10-12 HRV)
The Psalm continues:
4 He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you take refuge; His truth is a shield and armor.
This is the earliest mention of the shield and armor of Elohim, which Paul elaborates as follows:
13 Because of this, put on all the armor of Eloah, that you may be able to meet the
evil one, and being prepared in everything, you may stand firm.
14 Stand therefore, and gird up your loins with Truth, and put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15 And bind on your feet the preparation of the Good News of shalom.
16 And with these, take to you the shield of Trust: by which you will have power to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And put on the helmet of salvation, and take hold of the sword of the Spirit,
which is the Word of Eloah.
18 And with all prayers, and with all petitions, pray at all times in the Spirit: and in prayer, be watchful in every season while praying continually and making supplication on behalf of all the Set-Apart-Ones;
(Eph. 6:13-18 HRV)
The Psalm continues:
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day:
Rashi says that “the arrow that flies by day” refers to “the demon that flies like an arrow.” Paul recalls this phrase when he says:
And with these, take to you the shield of Trust: by which you will have power to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
(Eph. 6:16 HRV)
Psalm 91 continues:
6 Of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that wastes at noonday.
According to Rashi “Pestilence” and “Destruction” in this verse are actually the proper names of two demons.
7 A thousand may fall at Your side, and ten thousand at Your right hand; it shall not come near you.
Rashi says that the word for “fall” here actually means in this context “camp”. We have 11,000 demons camping around us, but which the wings of the Ruach HaKodesh shelter us from. In Hebraic thought, the left side represents our Severity while the right side represents our Mercy. HaSatan only assigns 1,000 demons to our left side because it is most vulnerable.
8 Only with your eyes shall you behold and see, the recompense of the wicked.
9 For You, O YHWH, are my refuge! Elyon, you have made your habitation.
10 There shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your tent.
11 For He will give His angels charge over you--to keep you in all your ways.
12 They shall bear you upon their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and asp; the young lion and the serpent shall you
trample under feet.
14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known, My Name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and bring him to honor.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and make Him to behold My salvation.
One of the battles in this war in heaven between Mikha’el (Michael) and HaSatan is related to us in Y’hudah (Jude):
Yet Mikha’el the chief angel, in contending with ‘Akel Kartza, when he disputed about the body of Moshe, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, YHWH rebuke you!
(Jude 1:9 HRV)
Notice that Mikha’el defeats HaSatan with the words “YHWH rebuke you”. In Zech. 3:2 YHWH himself invokes this same phrase (in a longer form) to rebuke HaSatan and defend the High Priest Yahushua (Joshua) from an attack of accusation by HaSatan.
There is power in the spoken word. There is power in the very letters themselves. When angels and shedim do battle, they battle with words. We are told that Yeshua cast out shedim by “his word” (Mt. 8:16). Yeshua’s talmidim exercised authority over the Shedim using the name of Yeshua (Luke. 10:17)
One who makes use of such names is called a “Ba’al Shem Tov” (Master of the/a Good Name). This concept appears throughout the NT in which miracles, healings and exorcisms are performed in the name of “Yeshua
The most important Name of power is the Sacred Name of YHWH known as the tetragramaton (four letter name):
The name of YHWH is a strong tower: the righteous runs into it, and is set up on high.
(Prov. 18:10 HRV)
From now on, I am not in the world, but these are in the world and I come to you, set-apart Father. Keep them in your name that you gave me
(John 17:11 HRV)
Through You do we push down our adversaries; through Your name do we tread them under that rise up against us.
(Ps. 44:6 (44:2) HRV)
O Elohim, save me by Your name, and right me by Your might.
(Ps. 54:3 (54:2) HRV)
There is none like unto You, O YHWH; You are great, and Your name is great in might.
(Jer. 10:6 HRV)
These days of the Counting of the Omer are a special time. A time to prepare for Shavuot and the gift. A time to put on the full armor of Elohim and take up the Shield of Faith. A time to dawn the tallit, be comforted under the wings of the Ruach HaKodesh as you wrap yourself in it. A time to meditate on the Name of YHWH and prepare to receive the gift of power from on high!
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