Gaining stronger faith in God and
comfort from God
through reading Psalm 121.
First, I will present an introduction to the topic:
All 150 psalms were at one time put to music and sung
by Jewish worshippers.
Psalm 121 is called a Song of Ascent.
There are 15 Psalms of Ascent.
They are Psalms 120 – 134.
The word “ascent” means to go up in elevation. Jerusalem is higher in elevation than the surrounding area.
Most experts agree that these were the psalms that the biblical Jewish worshippers sang as they journeyed up in elevation to the town of Jerusalem.
The Bible tells us that three times a year, all the
Jewish males who lived outside of Jerusalem were required to journey to Jerusalem. These psalms would be especially
important…. as songs to sing for the journey up to Jerusalem for these three
feast times. The three times a year occurred on Passover, on Pentecost, and the
third feast was the Feast of Tabernacles. Women were welcome to go to Jerusalem for these
but men were required.
The Book of Psalms
God wrote the book of Psalms to minister to our mind and to our emotions. Psalms is a poetic book, and God’s poetry frequently uses word pictures to help give understanding and stir our emotions in the right direction.
So to finish the introduction - Psalm 120 is the first psalm of ascent. The topic of that psalm is the distress that the Jewish people felt as their enemies were threatening them.
Reading God’s word
builds confidence and faith
in the supernatural abilities of God and
in the loving intentions that God has toward each of us.
As I share about Psalm 121, I will use the New King James Version.
Psalm 121 is a psalm intended to help the Jews build faith and trust in the God of their salvation. The Lord gave US this psalm to increase OUR faith about the assurance of God’s help even though our enemies (and challenging circumstances) may be around about us.
Psalm 121 verse 1 says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from
whence comes my help.”
“Looking up” has great meaning. To begin with - think about the image of looking down. Writers use the idea of looking down to convey sadness, or discouragement, or depression. This verse instructs us to look up – to be encouraged – to be expectant for God to help us.
I love Psalm 3:3 which says, “But you, O Lord, are a shield for me. My glory and the one who lifts my head.” Psalm 3:3 has the same idea as the first verse of Psalm 121.
I’ve seen television shows portray a person who is
sad, and we - the
viewers - know that person is sad, because the person is looking down at the ground. Next, we see another person walking over to gently take the sad person’s chin and tenderly lift it.
The Lord wants to tenderly lift our head up. He wants us to reject all the negative thoughts that are trying to dominate our life, and he wants us to focus on him – the one who is our ever - present help.
Verse 2 says, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
In this verse, God wants to remind us about the power of God. It was God who made the beauty and the complexity of the earth, and it is God who made the vast and spectacular heavens. When we compare our problems to our God – the comparison should increase our confidence in God’s ability to help us.
Verse 3 says, “He will not allow your foot to be moved.”
Here I see a picture of a person who has made a commitment and a stand for God and this verse assures that person that God will secure his foothold.
There are several other psalms that talk about surefootedness such as Psalm 17:5 in which the psalmist says to God, “Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip.”
Does God steady our footsteps no matter what path we choose to walk?
Under what circumstances does God steady our feet?
There are several other verses in the Bible
that help us gain a fuller understanding.
I’ll highlight Psalm 26:12 that says,
“My foot stands in an even place.”
When you look up the phrase “even place” in Strong’s Hebrew concordance, it contains the idea of a righteous place.
So here God is helping us understand that choosing to pursue righteousness in our life helps us keep from stumbling.
Psalm 1:1-2 say:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law he meditates day and night.”
So we see that the person spoken
of in Psalm 1 has positioned himself in the righteous paths of God.
My point is that God helps us with surefootedness as we walk on HIS PATHS.
Now back to Psalm 121. Verse 3 continues with the words, “He who keeps you will not slumber.” Then Verse 4 says, “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”
So many times when we are facing difficult circumstances, we stumble because we doubt that God is keeping watch over our situation. The enemy of our soul wants to tell us that God is really busy, and therefore he is not paying close attention. But the Bible tells us that he is totally focused on us.
God focuses on each of us
as though there were no other people.
Because he is God,
he can totally focus on you, and totally focus on me, and
totally focus on everybody on the earth.
When I used to teach little preschoolers, I would frequently tell them that God will not make any more people than he can keep up with! I also reminded the children that Psalm 139 tells us that God knows when we sit down and when we stand up. He knows our thoughts. He knows what we will say BEFORE we say it.
So when God tells us that “He who keeps you will not slumber” – he is just giving us a word picture to solidify in our mind that he will never take his eyes off of us or our situation. It makes me feel good to remind myself that I have all the intellect of God working for me every day.
I’ll continue with verse 5 – “ The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.”
Wow, the Lord is your shade at your right hand. This summer with temperatures frequently above 100 degrees – this verse is a picture of the relief that God comes to give us from the extreme heat of our daily experiences.
Verse 6 says, “The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.”
Here we see a poetic way of saying that God will protect you from things that could happen to you during the day and things that could happen to you during the night.
Verse 7 says, “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.”
God tells us that he will preserve us from all evil and then he specifically highlights protecting our soul.
Our soul is made up of our mind, our will and our emotions. So God is saying that his will is to preserve our mind, our will and our emotions from evil. Of course implied in that verse is that we will submit to him. I am reminded of James 4:7, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Psalm 121 verse 8 says, “The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.”
The Hebrew word translated “preserve” in verse 8 is used 6 times in this psalm. Three times it is translated “preserve,” two times it is translated “keeps,” and once it is translated “keeper.” Obviously God wanted to emphasize that word.
From Strong’s Hebrew Concordance, we find that the definition of this Hebrew word gives us the idea of God keeping, guarding, observing, watching, and preserving us.
In this psalm,
God sends a message of assurance
that he is working on our behalf.
He wants to build our faith
about his love and protection.
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