Psalm 121 - The Psalm That is a Set Up

I always assumed that the opening question of Psalm 121 was a set-up, a rhetorical device to bridge us to the real meat. We all know that the answer is ‘Jesus.’ Jesus is the One from whom all aid and blessing flows, so let’s get to the good stuff!

But the longer my journey has gone on, the more life- with all of its ups and down- has caused this question to arise from a deep and uncertain place in my soul. 

It’s terribly disconcerting at times- is there any help out there to be had? 

Our desire to make the journey to Zion is right and true (the psalms of ascents were written for use by pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem for the great festivals of the Jewish year), but the road is increasingly fraught with danger as individualism, consumerism and isolation seem to erode the path ahead. 

When the valleys deepen and the hills ahead grow higher, the longing for help is suddenly less rhetorical and much more real.    

That’s why I’m so grateful that this question shows up in Scripture.  Of course, I appreciate the psalmist’s response to his own question; in fact, we need his response! 

We need to hear about the Creator’s help that never rests from His protective work. We need to hear more about a promise of safety that so many make yet only One can keep. We need to know that wherever we go out to or come in from, the LORD will travel with us.  

But before all of that, I’m thankful that ancient pilgrims- the ones who saw Goliath slain and the dead raised- asked the same questions that arise from deep within our own hearts. I’m thankful that scripture teaches us to ask the right questions before offering the Word we need. I’m thankful that we belong to a tribe that wanders and wonders together, especially when the road ahead is not easy.

 

1          I lift up my eyes to the hills—

                        from where will my help come?

2          My help comes from the LORD,

                        who made heaven and earth.

 

Psa. 121:3   He will not let your foot be moved;

                        he who keeps you will not slumber.

4          He who keeps Israel

                        will neither slumber nor sleep.

 

Psa. 121:5        The LORD is your keeper;

                        the LORD is your shade at your right hand.

6          The sun shall not strike you by day,

                        nor the moon by night.

 

Psa. 121:7        The LORD will keep you from all evil;

                        he will keep your life.

8          The LORD will keep

                        your going out and your coming in

                        from this time on and forevermore

Rev. Matthew Stone is Senior Pastor of Dayspring United Methodist Church in Tyler, Texas. He and his staff would love to have you come worship with them if you are ever in the area.

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