Psa. 121:0 A Song of degrees.
Three times each year the men of Israel were to come to the temple and present themselves before the Lord.
Deut. 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
The fifteen Psalms that are called the songs of degrees (elevation, journey to a higher place, go up) were to be sung as they ascended the temple mount.
Psa. 121:1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
The author of this Psalm is not identified. Jerusalem was the place that God had specifically designated as His.
2Chr. 6:6 But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.
Jerusalem is located in the hill country of Israel. Mount Zion, Mount Moriah, and the Mount of Olives are all familiar names associated with the city of Jerusalem. When the Psalmist was referencing lifting his eyes unto the hills, he was referencing Jerusalem, the place where God had chosen to put His name and the one place designated as His dwelling place on earth.
Joel 3:17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
The Psalmist is not expecting help from the hills; he is expecting help from God.
I sometimes find myself lifting my eyes to the heavens thinking of God’s dwelling place as I talk to Him, but the truth is that God is dwelling in me through the Holy Spirit. I don’t really have to look to a certain place. Still sometimes it helps me to stay aware of how BIG my God really is to look to the heavens.
Psa. 121:2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
The important truth is to recognize that our only true help comes from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. The Hebrew for the word help includes to “surround, protect, aid.” We usually think of help as assisting us in our own efforts. I get more of a picture of complete dependence on God to work through us for our good and His glory.
Psa. 121:3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
The thought in this verse is again dependence on God and His provision and protection. The Psalmist knows that he cannot fall if he is totally dependent upon God. I think it is obvious that the Psalmist is focused on his spiritual walk, not his physical walk. I thought it was interesting that it was important to the Psalmist to know that God never sleeps; He is always aware and vigilant when it comes to the spiritual needs of those who follow Him in faith. Satan and his demons don’t quit for the nighttime. He likes to attack us in our thoughts when he thinks our guard is down. Strong temptation can confront the believer in the hours when he thinks he is hidden and no one can “see” his actions. God is ever present and ever ready to protect and deliver His children.
Psa. 121:4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Psalmist now includes thoughts of his nation. He takes comfort in knowing that Israel has been set apart for a special position by God, and He intends to do everything possible to see that they succeed in their calling. This makes me think of some verses from my recent study of Isaiah.
Is. 5:1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
Is. 5:2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
Is. 5:3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
Is. 5:4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
These are sad verses, but they show that God has done everything possible to enable Israel to succeed.
Psa. 121:5 The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The Hebrew for keeper states to “hedge about, guard, protect, attend to.” The word for shade references a “defense.” The right hand is a reference to one’s strength and power. No matter how powerful the men of Israel might be, they are not invincible without dependence on the LORD, Yhwh, the covenant-keeping God of Israel.
Psa. 121:6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
As I looked at the Hebrew and thought about this verse, it seems to be another reference to the fact that God never sleeps. His people have nothing to fear from anything they may confront in the day or the night. The enemy cannot find a vulnerable time to attack the man/woman of faith who is dependent upon God.
Psa. 121:7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
This is a hard verse to absorb sometimes when we look at all the “evil” things that happen to people of faith in particular. The key is learning to see through God’s eyes. God is ever protecting His people from harm; He is the One that protects their physical existence. What we forget to focus on is the fact that what may seem harmful from a purely human perspective may not be harmful at all from a spiritual perspective. The worst that can happen to the child of God on earth—death—results in stepping into eternity in the presence of Jesus. God, as our Creator, rightfully determines our days on planet earth.
Psa. 121:8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
This is another statement of God’s providence in the life of the man/woman of faith. They can confidently trust in God for their protection, guidance, and provision for time without end. In His care we have nothing to fear.