May 23 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 121

Read Psalm 121:1-8

I am sorry to admit that my eyes and my thoughts don’t always turn immediately to the Lord when I am faced with adversity. Psalm 121 serves as a great reminder that they should.

You may have noticed the intro to these eight verses. These words represent a “Song of Ascents.” This is one of fifteen psalms (Ps. 120-134) that were used by Jewish pilgrims making the journey to Jerusalem and the temple. As pilgrims neared the holy city, they were faced with an “ascent.” It was quite an uphill climb to reach the city. And the House of God itself was located on the “Temple Mount.”

But more importantly, pilgrims must raise their perspective. Real help does not come from a sacred city on a hill. Help does not come from a building, even if its construction was commissioned by the Lord Himself. Help comes from the Creator Lord. In your search for help and solutions to your problems, lift your eyes beyond creation to the Creator. Raise your perspective beyond the all that is man-made to the maker of all things.

Beyond being the Creator, this One who listens to your prayers watches over you. Five times in these few verses, the author reminds us of His watchful care. We never escape his notice. There is never an inattentive moment when we are outside of His purview. Whether it is day or night, He is like a watchman with his eyes trained on you. He is guarding your life day and night. No matter your destination, whether you are coming or going, He is more than aware of your life situation. He is the preserver and protector of your entire lifespan…not only now, but forever.

But, as you pray to the Guardian of your life, what do you do with the statements that promise “He will not let your foot slip” (3b) and “The Lord will keep you from all harm” (7a)? Clearly many of us have twisted an ankle, most of us have suffered an accident or injury, and all of us have experienced unwanted adversity. Is He only One who observes but is unable to act? Are those promises empty?

The New Testament reminds us that the “Lord disciplines the one He loves” (Heb. 12:6), and He does so “that we may share in his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). Perhaps we are to understand the guarding, protecting, preserving God of creation as One who stands watch at the door of our lives. Nothing is permitted to enter without His divine approval and without purpose attached to it. (Check out Job 1 and 2.)

As you pray through this Psalm, will you honor the One who watches over your life?

Steve Kern

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