I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.
From whence cometh my help?
My help cometh from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper:
the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:
He shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out
and thy coming in
from this time forth,
and even for evermore.
This psalm has long been a comfort to me. I memorized it when I was a teenager. Often in my articles I change the archaic spellings of the King James English to read more like our modern-day usage, but not this time. This psalm flows trippingly on the tongue in the King’s English. You may have noticed one slight change in the punctuation on the second line: “From whence cometh my help?” This is not a question in the KJV, but I have always read it as such, with the answer immediately following: “My help cometh from the Lord.” And my interpretation does not hurt the meaning of this psalm at all. In fact, scholars whose commentaries I have read also state that the original language suggests a question-and-answer format here. The original manuscripts did not contain punctuation, so the Bible translators inserted what they thought was best.
I separated verses 1-2 from verses 3-8 because the person changes at this point. In the first two verses, the writer is talking to his readers about himself. In other words, he is speaking in the first person. But beginning in verse 3, he switches to second person, and I believe he is speaking introspectively, to himself.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved….
The Lord will strengthen you to stand firm. He already equipped us with everything we need in the Word of God. But we must get in the Word daily so it may get in us.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep….
Sometimes the men and women who are called upon to stand watch will grow tired and will fall asleep at their post. It happens. But aren’t you glad that God is never tired? He never needs sleep. Anytime you call upon Him, He is listening for you; He hears you. And He will strengthen you for the task He has called you to do.
Isaiah 40:28-31 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
The LORD is thy keeper….
There is so much packed into this little word keeper.
The Lord keeps you from danger.
1 Peter 3:12-13 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
The Lord keeps you from sin.
Psalm 19:13 Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
The Lord keeps you unto salvation.
Jude 24-25 Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
The LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand….
Just as the shadow of a rock or tree protects from the intense rays of the sun, so the Lord shelters us from the intensity of life’s elements. He does not remove us from any storm that is necessary for our purification, but He prevents the storm from ravaging us. He does not douse any flame that would purge the dross from our lives, but He does guarantee that the flame will not destroy us. Radiation must kill some good cells along with the cancerous ones. God’s purification is much more precise, for He only destroys the cancer.
Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night….
We are all familiar with sunstroke, which can be fatal. But what can the moon do? Some scholars believe the psalmist is referring to the threat of frostbite from a sudden drop in temperature at night. Alternatively, he may be thinking of a mental disorder (i.e. lunacy). His point is that God is able to preserve us in body, soul, and mind.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul….
Up to this point the psalmist has stated some specific points, but now he is generalizing, for the sake of those who would say, “You missed one. What about this situation?” Here is a blanket statement that covers it all. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil.
Psalm 41:2 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and Thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore….
I cannot read this verse without thinking of the old preacher Lester Roloff. He had a private pilot’s license and often flew to his speaking engagements. Brother Roloff, as we fondly called him, would interpret this verse as so: “The Lord shall preserve thy going up and thy coming down from this time forth, and even for evermore.” Brother Roloff died in a plane crash. Did the Lord fail to preserve him? No way! The Lord preserved him until He was ready to take him home. We all have an appointment with death, every single one of us. And only God knows when that will be. But until that time, you may rest assured that nothing will harm you, for you are kept in the palm of God’s hand.
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While the writer of Psalm 121 is speaking from personal experience, his experience can and should be shared by all of us. We can all lift up our eyes unto the hills—unto the Lord—from whom comes our help. Let me encourage you to make this psalm personal in your life. Memorize it. Quote it often. And when you do, quote it from the heart, as a prayer from you to Abba Father.
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Photo taken in Milton, FL, 2018