Reader: “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,”
Response: “. . . both now and forever.”
Scripture: Psalm 121
I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
Reader: The word of the Lord
Response: Thanks be to God.
You have read at different times in the First Testament how the pagans worshiped in “high places” and on hilltops under spreading trees in order to be closer to the gods. This idolatrous cultic practice on mountains had an attraction for God’s people. The opening of this psalm could be read as a rhetorical question expecting a negative answer. Your help does not come from worship on mountain tops. Your help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth and the mountains! This psalm is an underscoring of Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Though this great Creator God created all that exists, he is still concerned and cares about you. He is always tuned to his creation for he never “slumbers or sleeps!” Think about it! Our God is always awake dialed into everything going on in his creation in all parts of everywhere since before time began. It’s exhausting even thinking about it! And God does this without expending himself in any way. He watches over nations and over you and me right now. The sun and the moon were also objects of cultic worship in those days and so the psalmist makes clear the Lord is master of both sun and moon. They have no power over you in any way. You need not fear them. The Lord’s eye is on you at all times and in all places. On a little different note, this psalm is similar to many Hebrew psalms in that it is antiphonally conceived. The poetry of the psalms is not of words rhyming, but of parallel thoughts. The speaker in verse one asks a question. Another speaker (verse two) answers the question. Sometimes the response adds to or restates the first idea in different words (v.3 & 4) or adds information or explanation (v.5 & 6 and 7 & 8). If someone is with you as you read this, you may want to go back and reread the psalm antiphonally. For several thousand years these particular verses have been heard as people ascended to Jerusalem to worship on Mt. Moriah. Whatever it is going on in your life today notice God and the verbs in this psalm. “Help comes from the Lord; He will not let you; he watches over you; he watches over Israel; Lord himself watches over you; Lord stands beside you; Lord keeps you from all harm; watches over your life; Lord keeps watch over you. Do you get the idea that God is looking out for you? Rest well.
Music: “He Watching Over Israel” Robert Shaw Ps.121:4; 138:7
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord, my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.
―My bedtime prayer in my childhood. (I always slept well!) Daniel Sharp