In 1911, Winston Churchill faced a turning point in his career. He didn’t know whether he’d be promoted or fired. His wife, Clementine, told him he needn’t worry. That morning, she had come across some verses in Psalm 107 that read: “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”
Clementine was convinced that her husband would be appointed head of the Royal Navy — which he was. A popular account from WWI tells of another psalm’s long-standing connection to warfare. According to the story, a commander in the US Army’s 91st Infantry Division gave each of his soldiers a card with the 91st Psalm printed on it. Soldiers took the cards into battle with the hope of being kept safe. When the actor Jimmy Stewart enlisted in the US Army Air Corps during World War II, his father gave him a letter and enclosed a copy of the same psalm. Over time, Psalm 91 has become known as the “Soldier’s Psalm.” Even in recent years, American troops in Iraq have been known to read it before going on patrol.