One sunny summer afternoon, several years ago, I was alone the mountains of northern Georgia. My flyfishing adventure in the wilderness presented me with a dangerous challenge. I was following a large stream and expected it to be joined by another smaller stream. Not having a topographical map, I had earlier noticed a stream as I traveled in the car. My expectation was to fish one stream for a while and then work my way back to the road, fishing upstream on the secondary tributary. I rounded a bend on the larger stream and observed not one but two streams – each one going in a different direction and away from where I perceived the road to be located. It was getting dark I knew if I didn’t get back to you quickly as I would be in trouble. My predicament was thoroughly confusing and I was bewildered. Which way to go? What should I do? I prayed for wisdom.
Again and again these situations occur in our lives – confusion flourishes. There seems to be no way of escape. The situation seems hopeless and I don’t know where to turn.
The writer of Psalm 121 may have felt similarly. Although there are some who think that when the psalmist lifts his eyes to the hills, he focuses on the grandeur of God and responds. Others think that he surveys the high places of the pagan idols, worshiped by the unfaithful. Whatever the case, he asked the question: where can I find help? Apparently he needed help to finish his journey towards Jerusalem.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121, ESV)
As a Christian, I am encouraged and gain confidence; I can call upon the Lord for help in any situation. The One to whom I call is the One “who made the heavens and the earth.” That is, the Lord our God has great power and wisdom (not to mention is concern for me). The Psalm of abounds with encouragement for the bewildered! Almighty God – the one who made heaven and earth, is committed to keeping me!
More than once I’ve been in a hospital, lying alone at night and wondering, “What am I going to do? Where can I turn for help?” Sometimes the issue might be relatively small like needing a nurse to get me ibuprofen for a headache. On other occasions more momentous issues concern me. “What is going to happen to me? Where is God in all this mess? How do we survive financially in the future?” Often, I need a reminder of where to turn for help.
God, in Psalm 121, reminds me that the Lord keeps all of his people collectively (all Israel) and each one individually (your keeper). The Hebrew word translated keeper implies one who was guarding, paying careful attention to and one who protects and provides. Our God, who made the heavens and the earth – the one and only true and living God reminds us that he is our keeper.
So, even when I think I am all alone and in a hopeless situation, I am reminded that my Creator and Redeemer is deeply concerned about me. He never tires – he doesn’t take a break or change shifts. He promises that he is always concerned. He has the power and wisdom to keep all and each of his people. The New Testament put it this way: cast all your care upon him because he cares for you.
By the way, I made my way back safely to the road; a nurse to come and give me ibuprofen; and God is providing my daily bread. The Lord is my keeper!