A song of ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip –
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you –
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm –(Ps. 121:1-8 NIV)
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and for evermore.
The key theme of this Psalm of assents is the theme of security. Six times the psalmist repeats the idea that the Lord keeps or watches over us and that he is our helper. God’s providence and protection covers our entire lives.
The Psalmist reminds his heart that the one who watches over the church, the one who is the maker of heaven and earth is also the Keeper of individuals who call on him for help.
v1-2 Who is our Keeper?
v3-4 How vigilant is our Keeper over us?
V5-6 How constant is our keeper
v7-8 What are the limits to our Keeper’s protection?
As the pilgrim made his journey to the temple he would look up and at a distance see the place where he would meet with God, and thoughts of being in God’s presence swelled his heart with the thought that God would protect them throughout their whole lives. God was not confined to the Temple, but he was providentially involved with all the day to day matters of their lives.
There is certainty in this Psalm about the source of their help. There is certainty in the assurance that help is available, and there is certainty that that help will know no limit.
As the worshipper approached Jerusalem, he would lift up his eyes to the hills surrounding Jerusalem. Perhaps as the tourists arrive in London and goes along to Buckingham Palace and lifts up their eyes, they rejoice because the royal standard is flying, they know that the Queen is in residence, and they hope perhaps that they might get a glimpse of the Queen. As the Psalmist looked to the Hills of Jerusalem he was reminded of the promise of God’s presence. It was an assurance of hope and security. His hope was not in man or in himself but in the Lord the maker of heaven and earth. There is significance in the lifting up of the eyes. When our focus is self centred, the soul tends to be downcast and discouraged. Look up and away to God – it is the Lord who is our keeper.
As the worshippers made their way to Jerusalem, they passed by warlike people who worshipped other gods. But they were not gods, not real, but gods of man’s own construction, but the God of the worshippers is the constructor of heaven and earth.
Perhaps they were persuaded that the God of heaven was a great God, but they might still have the question ‘but will he help, will he be moved to watch over us and keep us?’
He will not let your foot slip; he will watch over you by day and by night. We tend to think of God looking after the big picture, steering the big plan of salvation, moving forward the progress of the church. And that is quite correct – God moves and operates to secure his decrees about salvation and the church, but part of those great plans are the multitude of detailed plans, that God will supervise – even the supervision of where we place our foot. This is a picture that the Psalmist uses to reassure us that God is personal and personally involved, right down to the tiniest detail of our lives.
The Lord watches over you –Psalm 121:5 (NIV)
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
Those who live in lands where the heat is constant would understand the imagery of God being the shade from the burning rays of the sun. It just means that no experience or occurrence will come our way that is not permitted by God.
Is there a limit to God’s keeping power? No, it is not restricted in power nor restricted by time. It begins now and extends forever.
The Lord keeps us from all harm. When we think of Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery his brothers intended it for harm and on the face of it, it looked like harm and Joseph could have asked, ‘Why is this happening? You promised to keep me from all harm.’ Joseph realised that the brothers intended it for harm, but the Lord intended it for good. So, what may seem like harm to us, in the providence of God is intended for our good. In all our journeys, in the paths that we take, the Lord will watch over us, now and forevermore. Nothing will come our way to harm us, and if it currently seems that we have been harmed we need to wait a little longer to see what God has intended.
Father we thank You for Your care over our lives. We sometimes feel we have been harmed, but help us to see that even when it feels like harm, You are working out Your perfect will in our lives. We thank You that You watch over us both day and night. Lord keep us on the straight and narrow path, hold us upright when we’re too tired to walk unaided, keep us in Your way for Christ our Saviour’s sake. Amen.