Psalm 121, the favorite Psalm of many, displays four of the LORD’s titles of comfort to the soul of the saint in need. The first title the LORD gives comes in the form of His ‘help’ showing that He is our Helper. This word was first used in Genesis 2 to describe Adams ‘help’ meet, the woman God created for him and suited to him as his helper, his partner, his completer. This is also a popular word of the Psalmist as it is found eleven times in the Psalms, which is over half of the 21 times it is seen in the Old Testament.
This help from the Lord finds it’s source in the hills, coming directly from the LORD Who created all that exists, with the hills representing His powerful creative work. These hills also were a familiar place the Psalmist could physically view at any time he desired and therefore provided great comfort in knowing the LORD was His ever-present and great Helper in time of need. (v.1,2)
Secondly, the Psalmist tells us of the LORD’s power to keep us. This word ‘keep’ has as it’s emphasis the LORD’s guarding, watching, observing His saint and thereby keeping him from any harm or hurt with the phrase ‘He will not suffer thy foot to be moved’ focusing on His watchcare over the unshaken and stable security of the saint, His precious child, and the object of His great love.
The LORD keys in on the fact of His continual safe-keeping of His own, as He twice emphasizes that He ‘will not slumber’, adding the word ‘sleep’ to underline His ongoing eternal care. He is ever awake to guard, protect and care for his own.(v.3-5a)
The third title the Psalmist gives to the Lord is a rare expression describing the LORD’s covering the saint from the harmful elements that can be cast upon his body and soul. Here the LORD is called our ‘Shade’ (v.5b). Who hasn’t experienced the powerful rays of the sun beating down upon us, scorching the skin, causing severe damage to the physical body? The LORD takes this common occurrence and causes us to see His concern even for our seemingly menial affliction regardless of the source.
This word, translated ‘shadow ’ and ‘defence’, is translated ‘shade’ only here. Here again, protection from harm is the key idea the Psalmist is concerned with expressing. He wants us to know the LORD is interested in every area of possible affliction we may suffer, and in each case He is found to be not only able, but extremely willing to protect His own! ‘The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.’(v.6) gives proof of this all encompassing protection the LORD provides.
The last title found here is one of great comfort and security to the saint, and is a foundational doctrine of our ‘So great salvation’. The word ‘preserve’ centers on the LORD’s guarding, protecting, and watching over His possession. The root of this Hebrew word is the same as the root for the word ‘keep’ found in (v.3,4) and therefore carries a similar meaning.
But the translators utilized the word ‘preserve’ to focus on the idea of the LORD’s ability to not only keep His own as described in I Peter 1:5 where we are ‘Kept by the power of God’, but also to give us the great promise of eternal preservation by His very Word!
Yes, preserved from ‘All evil: He shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.’(v.7,8) All of the our activities are covered here with the promise of God’s preserving! What more do we need? What more can we ask? The LORD has given us a threefold promise of preservation that covers the physical, the spiritual and the eternal aspects of all our life and being! Praise ye the LORD! Amen, and Amen!
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