The Promise of God’s Power in Protecting His People under His Providential Care
Jesus promised that in the world, His disciples would have trouble (Jn 16:33). We are people who live in need of help. An evening in front of the television has no shortage of companies selling help for back pain, vacation getaways, and better cheaper fast food, secured by Motor Trend’s truck of the year. David queried, “I will lift my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come (Psalm 121:1)?”
The glory of God is enhanced by our need, and His wisdom and power to deliver us from a myriad of troubles. Under the delusion of Satan, man and his corporations and governments usurp the role of God. With products delivered and services rendered, man refuses to give glory to God.
David was not enamored by the machinations of men and nations, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Ps 121:2).” The Lord is my Helper (Ps 30:10; 54:4; Heb 13:6). He sends His Holy Spirit to be our Helper (Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26; Rom 8:26). Here is the friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prv 18:24).
The proud and arrogant insist they are going to go and do something for Jesus. The humble know their plight of weakness. There is no delusion in the truly needy ones. Man has failed us over and over again. It is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in man (Ps 118:8). Why such confidence in Yahweh?
“He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber (121:3),” is David’s answer. Note the pronoun shift by the poet in Psalm 121, from “my” (vv. 1–2) to “your” and “you” (vv. 3–8). David’s testimony is the testimony of all God’s people. In His gracious providence toward His beloved, He is working all things together for our good (Rom 8:28).
The vigilance of our Good Shepherd is recognized by the fact He never sleeps on the job, “Behold He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep (121:4).” Israel is God’s beloved betrothed, as typified by the bloodline from Abraham to Jesus. As the Apostle Paul noted, “Not all Israel is Israel (Rom 9:6),” meaning that just because one was an ethnic Jew did not mean he belonged to the remnant of saved souls (Rom 11:5).
Baal was criticized by the prophet Elijah at Mount Carmel for his drowsiness (1 Kgs 18:27). He did not appear when his priests summoned him. Contrast this with Yahweh, who is an ever present help in our time of need (Ps 46:1). He is our Ebenezer (1 Sam 7:12).
The nature of our fallen world means that even the benefits of the sun and moon are a danger to our existence, “The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand (121:5).” The right hand is the position of power. If God is for us, then who can be against us? He is the keeper of His own flocks, and He knows what is best for each one of His sheep (Ps 23; Jn 10).
The natural world is a danger, but “The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night (121:6).” Jesus demonstrated His power over nature, while on the Sea of Tiberias (Mt 8:26–27). Even death, the very enemy of life, could not hold Him in its grip. He is risen, indeed (Mt 28:6).
The threat of death is the threat of judgment and punishment (Heb 2:15). Because those who are in Adam (Rom 5:12–21) are already condemned (Jn 3:18), the natural man is only waiting for his eternal death sentence (1 Cor 2:14), to be issued at the resurrection, on the Day of the Lord (Jn 5:25–29). The fear and terror of the Lord should cause repentance in every sinner, but those at enmity with God will not seek God for help (Rom 3:10–12). Pride prevents this from happening, even to the day of death.
The children of God (1 Jn 3:1, 10), adopted into the family of God (Rom 8:15, 23), have the promises of God, from the Word of God, “The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul (121:7).” This is the blessed assurance given to the elect, redeemed, who have been born again by the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). These have the pledge of an eternal inheritance (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14). The token pledge is the indwelling Spirit of Christ in their hearts (Jn 14:17; Rom 5:5; 8:9, 11; Jas 4:5).
In an evil world, ruled by the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4) — a deceiver and murderer (Jn 8:44) — there is a divine protection for the church of true believers in Jesus, the Israel of God (Gal 6:16). Just as the Israelites had the cloud of His presence by day and the pillar of fire by night (Ex 13:21), so the believer has the Spirit of the Lord guiding him…forevermore (Jn 16:13).
Therefore, “The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in, from this time forth and forever (121:8).” Here is the promise of the preservation of the saints, through sanctification unto glory. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:35–39).
Christian, the Lord Jesus Christ is your confidence (Ps 71:5; Prv 3:26; 2 Cor 3:4). He is your Deliverer at all times and in every situation (2 Sam 2:22; Ps 18:2; Rom 11:26). He was with Abraham on his sojourn to the Promised Land. He was with Joseph in his cellar of loneliness and abandonment. He was with Israel in the Exodus, wilderness wanderings, and conquest. He was with Ruth in her family tragedies. He was with David in his family maladies.
The Lord Jesus is with you on your sojourn through the darkness and danger of this world. He has made a place for you in His family, even as there was a place for each member of Noah’s family on the ark (Gen 6–9). Though you are incessantly battered by the storms of life, your place in His holy temple (Eph 2:20–22). You are not alone in your trials, which test the materials by which you were made (1 Cor 3:11–13).
You are the new creation of an eternal Master (2 Cor 5:17), whose works are perfect by design (Ps 73:28; 104:24; 145:10). You are clay in the fiery kiln, with a solid future, in the image of Christ (Rom 8:29–30). Rejoice in your present sufferings (Rom 8:18; Jas 1:2–3), for you have His assurance, a hope and a future, in Psalm 121.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 6, 2022