Stephen Caswell © 2005
What is life like? One person said this, life is like a box of chocolates you don’t know what you get till you open it up. Some one else said that life is like a book that we write as we go. These ideas are good. Yet I believe life is like a journey. We are only passing through this world like someone on a world trip. When one travels today security is an important consideration. The Psalmist shares thoughts like these when he wrote Psalm 121. The Psalmist considered where he might find protection for his journey. He found it in the Lord. The Lord is, Our Helper, Our Keeper, Our Protector and Our Preserver.
1. Our Helper
Psalm 121:1-2: I will lift up my eyes to the hills — from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
The Psalmist was traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate a religious feast. Devout Jews traveled to Jerusalem three times a year to keep the Lord’s feasts. The journey took a few days. Like today, travel wasn’t safe in the Middle East. The Psalmist was looking for help on his journey. Where would help come from? From the Lord.
Looking to the hills of Jerusalem the Psalmist remembered that the temple was there. The Lord’s presence rested in the most holy place in the temple. The Psalmist turned his attention to God who dwelt among His people. The Lord listened to the prayers of His people. Solomon prayed this in 2 Chronicles 6:20: Let Your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, toward the place where You said You would put Your name, that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. God hears the prayers of his people. When we turn to Him for help He is faithful to answer our prayers. He gladly watched over these travelers on their way to worship Him in Jerusalem.
In looking to the hills he also took comfort in God’s power. Our Creator is a God of power, wisdom and glory and we have nothing to fear. He made the heavens, the earth, and everything else in them. He made us and knows us. He’s in control. The mountains and the hills are large; yet God owns them. He’s far greater. The hymn puts it so well, This is my Father’s World. If God made the world by His great power, surely He is able to help us. Isaiah 40:31: But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. God is able to help us and strengthen us for our journey through life.
2. Our Keeper
Psalm 121:3-4: He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Travelers are always in danger of accident. They can slip or fall and hurt themselves. Here the Psalmist reminds us that God is watching over His people. He will not allow them to meet with such tragedy. People may slumber and sleep, but the Lord won’t. Psalm 37:23-24: The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand. What can happen to believers that God doesn’t allow. He’s there to guide and protect us. The Lord is the Good Shepherd who leads His sheep along the journey of life.
Traveling Home From Stanthorpe
One evening I was traveling home from a sales trip out west. I was driving from Stanthorpe back home to Brisbane. It was just after dark when suddenly I came to some road works. There was no warning sign to say that gravel road was ahead. I drove on to the gravel road and started to slide off on a corner. I immediately called out to God. I cried Father help me. Immediately the car righted itself and went around the corner. God protected me from certain harm. On a previous trip I had rolled a car over even though I tried to right it. God kept me in both but delivered when I called out to Him.
3. Our Protector
Psalm 121:5-6: The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
Travelers are exposed to dangers from robbers and evil men. They often journey through unfamiliar territory. But God promises to be their protector. Cain was not his brother’s keeper. In fact he killed Abel. For the believer, God has promised to protect us from harm. This does not mean that we will not face danger some times. But it does mean that God will be with us and keep us through it. David often faced danger from his enemies. Yet the Lord delivered him out of all his troubles.
Travelers are also exposed to the elements. Yet the Lord promises to protect us from such exposure. He is at our side to shade us from the sun’s heat during the day. In the Middle East, the sun is hot and distressing. We need a place of shelter when things get hot. The Lord is such a shelter. Consequently at night the temperature drops so suddenly. This is uncomfortable and can be unhealthy. Sickness often comes to those who can’t keep warm. Isaiah 25:4: For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; for the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. Yet God promises His protection from the elements.
God’s Protection In Trials
A vine clings to an oak tree and in so doing finds the protection in times of trial that preserves it. If a violent storm should arise and the vine is on the side of the tree away from the wind, the tree serves to protect the vine from the wind, which would otherwise tear it away and rip it into shreds. If the vine is on the exposed side of the tree, the wind serves only to press the vine closer to the tree it already clings to.
In the storms of our life, God will at times set himself between us and the fury of the storm and so protect us from it. At other times, he will expose us to the storm so that its ravages may serve to press us closer to him.
4. Our Preserver
Psalm 121:7-8: The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.
In His providence, God knows how much joy and sorrow, how much pleasure and pain, how much prosperity and poverty is proper for His child. He knows the correct balance of sunshine and storm, the precise mixture of darkness and light it takes to perfect a son.
The Lord watches over His people all the time. He has promised to protect them from all evil. God protects us from all that could harm us. He gives grace when trials come. The Lord causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him. He turns the trials that come our way into stepping stones. He won’t allow evil to harm our soul. Joseph could say that all the evil done to him was turned into good by God’s gracious hand. God watches over us in the everyday affairs of life. He is watching when we go shopping or to the doctor. He sees us leave and come home again. Our Father is concerned with the minor details of our lives. He is concerned about our problems and wants to help. 1 Peter 5:7: casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. The Lord guides us through our lives and ultimately He will take His children home to glory.
Psalm 73:23-26: Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
We are all traveling along life’s journey. Do you have some one to go to for help? Can you say that the Lord is your Helper? Do you know the Lord? Are you His Child? Can you call out to Him in prayer? Does He keep you from stumbling? Does He give you strength each day? Is the Lord watching over you? Does the Lord deliver you in your trials? Is He leading you to your heavenly home? Does your confidence rest in Him?
Numbers 6:24-26: The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.