Psalm 121

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 4, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“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—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121)

After writing on the very length Psalm 119 over the last two weeks, a short psalm is a nice change! Psalm 121 is only 8 verses, compared to the 22 sets of 8 verses we saw in Psalm 119.

Psalm 121 has the title of “a song of ascents,” and it is one of the 15 psalms with this title (Psalms 120-134). The Mishnah, essentially an early Jewish commentary, suggests that these psalms correspond with the 15 steps of the temple, that they would be said or sung one for each step as the worshiper ascended the steps to go up to the temple. They may not have originally been composed for this purpose, but they were used this way at the second temple in Jerusalem.

The content of this psalm also feels like an ascension. It starts with identifying God as creator, then as our guardian, then a blessing for all time. It is an encouraging psalm and can “ascend” the reader’s mood into one of feeling blessed and encouraged in our walk with God, even if we’re not literally ascending the steps of the temple while reading or reciting it.

This psalm starts in verse 1 with the psalmist lifting his eyes to the hills. Anyone who has visited a mountainous region, especially if they live in a flat area, is generally impressed by the beauty of mountains or even hills. I live in northwest Ohio where everything is super flat, so on the occasions that I’ve been able to travel to Colorado, I just love looking at the mountains! The terrain is so different and so much more beautiful, though I suppose flat farming fields have their own beauty as well.

The psalmist questions where his help comes from. We, too, can ask that same question in our own lives. When we’re discouraged, where do we turn? Do we turn to God, or do we turn to the ways of this world? God does give us people and things in this world that will help us through difficult times, but the most important place to turn is to Him - the one who created this world and all of us.

The psalmist’s answer to this question is found in verse 2. His help comes from God the creator. The one who made this world is the one who is sovereign over it and is fully capable of helping with any difficulty we encounter. God as the creator has unlimited power!

What exactly does God do for us? That answer can be found in the rest of the psalm (verses 3-8). God keeps us from slipping. God does not take naps where He’s not paying attention, but He constantly watches over us. We see this phrase of God watching over is 5 times in these verses - clearly, this is an important idea that the psalmist is emphasizing. The pagans would consider their gods to be sleeping at times, so this is in direct contrast to their ideas. The one true God never sleeps!

God shades us from the extreme heat of the sun, meaning that He will protect us from dangers. While that doesn’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us, it does mean that He is always with us to help us through anything we experience. There be many things in life that God has protected us from that we don’t even know about. He is a good God who loves His people, though we are still sinful and often cause negative things to happen in our own lives. But God is always there with us, watching over us, no matter what.

The climax of this psalm occurs in verses 7-8: “The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” The psalmist has built up to this point, and this is his emphatic conclusion. The Lord will continue to watch over us in the future, even until eternity!

The God that the psalmist was writing to so many centuries ago is the same God that we worship today. He does not change. He continues to watch over His people in all things. He is still the God who created all things, and He still has power over all of His creation.

What are you going through today that feels like it may be bigger than God? Whatever it is, God is walking through it with you and He has power over the situation. Put your trust fully in Him and lift up your eyes to the hills - God is where your help comes from.

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