Read Psalm 121
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121 is the second song of ascent and is believed to have been sung as pilgrims approached Jerusalem. The city, which is located up on a hill, was the site of numerous festivals. The first verse can be interpreted literally as the author is looking upon the physical hill in front of him and mentally preparing for the journey, but also metaphorically in the sense of remembering the trials that they have gone through in their life so far. With both interpretations, the message stays the same: The Lord guides through it all.
It’s after this proclamation of who God is in verse 2 that there is a shift in focus, from the speaker’s personal problems to focusing on who God is, now directly addressing the reader. We don’t hear the author complain about the journey or what else they are worried about, because when they approached a difficult journey, they immediately went to remembering what is true about who God is. When we take our eyes off of ourselves and instead remember who God is, it changes how we view everything, our circumstances, ourselves, and others all look different with this change in vision.
So what does the author see when he looks to God? That He is watching over us and helps us stay firm (v. 3). He does not forget us or turn His back on us –even when it feels like he does (v. 4). He helps us see clearly and has a plan for our life that is better than what we could plan (v. 5 & 7). This can all be summed up by the Hebrew word shamar, meaning to keep and preserve. It’s repeated six times throughout this chapter to clearly communicate that The Lord will preserve you. Even when we are doubting and turning away from God, He is constant and steady (v. 8).
We are often so quick to turn away from God when things get hard. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the world and to try to take control, but what we are being reminded of in this passage is that God is enough. While we are not enough for the trials we go through, the good news for us is that our God is more than enough! Take time today to meditate on these truths of who God is.
- What are all the words you see repeated in this chapter? What are some of the recurring themes?
- What did you learn about God in this chapter?
- The final verse says “ the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” How does this make you feel?
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