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Psalm 121
Comfort in God’s Preservation

1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

What’s most impressive about this Psalm is the number of times a single Hebrew word is used in just a few short verses. Six different times this particular word is used, twice being translated “keepeth,” once “keeper” and three times “preserve.” In the opening verses the writer acknowledges the source of any help he has received. The Lord above is the source. The God who made heaven and earth is the origin of true and sufficient help. This God shows His dedication to His followers by never turning away from them. He never rests but is ever watchful over His people. He is the keeper, the source of preservation for those who abide in Him.

The Hebrew word noted in the previous paragraph is found over 460 times in the Old Testament. It carries with it a broad array of definitions, but they all come down to the idea of guarding, observing, giving heed, watching, preserving and protecting. In essence, God is watching over His faithful followers.

In the chapter on Psalm 23 we considered the fact that God knows us. Perhaps there are some similarities between these two chapters in this book, but the emphasis here is more on the fact that God sees all in our lives. Psalm 23 implies that He sees all because it shows how the Lord provides all that we need. This Psalm devotes more of itself to plainly stating that God sees all.

Does God know when we hurt? Is He watching when bad things happen to His people? Is He aware of the struggles that we face in trying to adjust to the dramatic changes in our lives brought on by calamity? The repetition of the word that shows God is watching, observing and giving heed to our lives indicates that He is indeed aware of every moment in our lives, be it good or bad. Such a thought was warmly welcomed by this Psalmist. He knew where to find God. He knew that God saw him in the day time and in the evening and whether he was going or coming. He took comfort in the knowledge that the ever-seeing eye of the Lord was aware of his every step. He took comfort in this because he knew that along with this watchfulness came the strength to stand firm and the preservation against evil. Nothing could really harm him as long as his God was watching over him. When he needed help, he knew where to find its source.

Knowing that God is ever present is disturbing to those who don’t want Him to see what they’re doing. To those who want to serve Him faithfully, such knowledge is worth more than any treasure on earth. While it is true that there is no sinful thought or evil deed that God does not see, so is it also true that there is no act of righteousness of which He is not aware and there is no twinge of sadness that is not laid bare before him.

Psalm 139 adds to the beauty of this thought about God’s omnipresence and omniscience. There the Psalmist wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.” (Psalm 139:7-11).

God sees when we hurt. Some might wonder that since this is the case, why doesn’t God do something to prevent the hurt? After all, is the Psalmist not saying here that God will keep His people from all things harmful? That’s a good question. Is he suggesting that God suspends all laws of nature in order to keep anything bad from happening to His people? Is he indicating that God puts a halt to the aging process so that no one will ever get sick, grow old and die?

What the Psalmist seems to be saying is that while God watches over us physically, He preserves, guards and protects us spiritually. The former is obvious because the Psalmist is writing to living people. The latter is determined by the context, especially verse seven in which he has written, “he shall preserve thy soul.” God is watching over us and He will preserve, guard, give heed to the spiritual welfare of those who rely on Him. Philippians 4:6-7 attests to this. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

As much as the difficulties of life hurt, they don’t have to destroy us. The challenges will come and God sees when they do come, but He has established His guard to preserve us during these times. The troubles may become intense, but they will not smite our souls if we keep a firm foothold in God’s Word. No matter where we may go, no matter how long we may live, we will have God’s preservation of our souls if we faithfully obey His Word.

God’s constant watchfulness and loving preservation are two facts that support the inherent power that lies in acceptable prayer. In Hebrews 4:13 Paul wrote, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Since God is always watching us, then He is always near in prayer. Paul said, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” (Acts 17:27). The Lord is not far off. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:5 that He is at hand. We may not be able to see Him, but He can see us.

After we’ve suffered a tragedy in our lives, who among us can tell when and where the pains of sadness will strike? We could go for days feeling happy and content and then suddenly, a song, a scent, a picture, practically anything could usher in a wave of sorrow and a rush of tears. As is clearly indicated in Psalm 121, God is there and He sees that. Since He is there, He is available in prayer. We can express the depths of our sorrow to Him in prayer and supplication, assured that He is dedicated to the preservation of our souls.

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