We are now in the middle of two New Years – The New Year that follows our calendar year, 1st January 2019 and the Lunar New Year on 5th February 2019. For many people, entering into a new year is that of having to face challenges and uncertainties which may be new or carried over from the previous year.
Hence, as we traverse along life’s windy pathways, it is so reassuring to know that God as our Keeper, is more than able to see us through each step of the way. In Psalm 121, surfaces four reasons which leads us to such a confidence.
Firstly, He is our security (1,2) – 1I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
When the Psalmist lifts up his eyes and sees the hills, he may have in mind Mount Zion, which has been described as the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22). However, it could also be that of the myriad of pagan idolatry built in the ‘high places’ – like the worship of Astoreth and Baal. Knowing that idols are but the creation of the works of human hands, the Psalmist was able to declare that for him, his help comes from the Lord, Who is the creator God, maker of the heavens and the earth. It is a reminder for us that since we the Creator God to be our helper, we can trust Him to be our keeper and to keep watch over us through the rest of the year.
Secondly, He is our safety (3,4) – 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Here we are reminded that our God Who keeps watch over us neither slumbers nor sleeps. How different is this God, as compared to the gods involved in idolatrous worship. Consider for example the famous Mount Carmel incident between God and Baal in 1 Kings chapter 18. The Baal worshippers called and cried for fire to no avail. Elijah’s mocking of them was to ask if perhaps their gods were too busy to help, on a journey, or maybe sleeping. As for Elijah, as soon as he called upon God, fire came down to consume the offering. Thank God, that He keeps watch over us 24/7.
Thirdly, He is our shelter (5,6) – 5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
Psalm 121 is oftentimes described as a psalm for middle-Eastern travelers, exposed to unkind harsh weather conditions – extremely burning hot in the day and extremely cold during the night. There are both bandits and animals, all ready to see them as victims.
For ourselves, as we journey on through the New Year, coming face to face with that which will cause us harm and danger, it is a great comfort to know God as our shade and shield, providing the shelter we need.
Fourthly, He is our stability (7,8) – 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 forth and forevermore.
The Chinese characters, 出入平安, found in many a Chinese home, is a hope that when we get out of the house to face the world outside and when we get to return home, that all will be well. Thank God for the confidence we can have in Him that this is a promise from our Lord to be our stability in our going out and coming in.
The story David Livingstone’s missionary exploits are well-documented. On the night before setting sail for his missionary career, he had a time of worship with his father and sister. Early the next morning in Nov. 1840, he read from two Psalms, Psalm 135 and Psalm 121, before leaving his family, never to return again. He died in Africa, having his body buried in London and his heart in Africa.
David Livingstone went through all kinds of challenges in his missionary career. Throughout his career, he definitely experienced the Lord keeping watch over him, right till the time when he was ushered into his eternal rest. Psalm 121 was a living reality for him. It can be for us as well, even as we entrust our all Him.
Elder Richard Lai