I woke up this morning thinking, “Oh, this is the day after the elections. The final returns must be in.” When I turned out the light on the previous night, Mr. Trump was winning and had all but won the presidency. When you back a winner usually you are happy. But I was not. I felt kind of hollow and uncertain.
I admit that I had reluctantly voted for him. I did not endorse him. Rather, I cast my vote against his opponent. It was a bitter choice; I chose between the lesser of two evils, in my opinion. I know that Mr. Trump has expressed a commitment to appoint conservative Supreme Court Justices. I am also aware that there are likely many other areas of agreement. I took one of those quizzes that one finds on Facebook. I agreed more with a third-party candidate but still 89% of my views corresponded to Mr. Trump’s professed position.
Notice I said professed position. My problem is that I’m not sure that I can trust the man. This is a big issue for me. Maybe I’m just skeptical, but it seems that he, like most politicians who will say anything to get elected, is not trustworthy. Nevertheless, Scripture commands me to respect him and to pray for him. This I will do. I will also give him an opportunity to build trust.
Back to last night – the election results make it clear that most of the population of the United States is dissatisfied with the status quo, especially regarding the economy and more specifically the cost of healthcare. Being forcibly retired and on a very limited and fixed income, I began to consider my own circumstances and the future. A growing economy likely results in higher wages and higher prices – inflation…
There are a host of other concerns that you and I have regarding the future. When one considers the possibilities they often morph into probabilities. “What if…?” becomes a reality which is repeatedly replayed. Sometimes we face situations which are overwhelming. Uncertainty is scary! We feel all alone – helpless.
How do you face circumstances like this? I have several “go to” Scripture passages which remind me of the Lord’s covenant faithfulness. One of my favorites is Psalm 121. This ancient Hebrew song begins with a statement of fact quickly followed by a rhetorical question: I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where does my help come? The immediate response is my help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. So, the song depicts someone who must look outside of himself for help. The remainder of the Psalm encourages the follower of the LORD by reminding him of various facets of God’s covenant faithfulness.
Please open a Bible to Psalm 121 and read it. Rather than going through it verse by verse, we will start in the middle. Psalm 121:5 (ESV) The Lord is your keeper… is the central point of the song. If you will notice carefully, you can count eight clauses preceding it and eight following it. In Hebrew poetry, this is one of the ways of how highlighting (as above) was accomplished. It is as if there are 16 fingers pointing to this clause. Thus, the central theme – the primary lesson is that the LORD is your keeper.
Now let’s consider these words. First, notice that the subject, or the one spoken about, is the LORD. This is a very special word in Hebrew language which is God’s personal name. It always indicates his absolute independence and his faithfulness by appealing to his personal name. This name always reminds the reader that Almighty God has entered into a binding relationship with him or her as a member of God’s people. Again, the personal commitment of God to his people (especially as individuals) is accented.
Next, consider the term keeper. This Hebrew word is often translated keeper; some versions translate it as protector or even “the one who watches over.” The Hebrew form is rooted in a term which means: to keep, to guard, to preserve or to pay attention to. This word has several nuances. First, it highlights the careful attention which must be given to the details of a covenant or binding contract. Second, it means to take care of or to carefully guard something such as a garden, a flock of sheep or a house. Next, it describes God’s care and protection. It is also used to signify personal discipline and commitment and to highly regard what is being guarded. Thus, it means to exercise great care over.
The final word to consider is your. Unlike the English language, Hebrew can specify between singular and plural pronouns for the second person. In other words, when you see the word you in English, it could mean either you as an individual or you as part of a group. This word focuses on you as an individual. So, you can read this like a personal promise.
There is one proviso, however. The name of God, LORD, points to a personal relationship. In the full light of the New Testament, it refers to Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners. It is only through Jesus that we can relate to God for him to us. Precious promises are made to God’s people – those who turn away from sin and toward Jesus – to those who are trusting in him for forgiveness and commit themselves to follow him. His wonderful promises are not dispensed indiscriminately, but pronounced particularly to those who are trusting in his son, Jesus Christ.
Putting it all together, the LORD is your keeper. Although this clause can be read as a statement of fact, it is also a promise (because God has said it), which indicates that the LORD, who has bound himself to you by a solemn, unbreakable covenant, personally commits himself to lovingly, watch over, care for and protect you.
This beautiful song teaches that the LORD, God Almighty, who made the heaven and earth is exercising great care over, guarding, protecting and cherishing the individual members of his people. Thus, when one, who is trusting in Jesus, feels like he or she is all alone and overwhelmed – hopeless and helpless, he is being deceived. He needs to be reminded of God’s continuing faithfulness and love.
The LORD is your keeper. Now read the whole song again and notice the individual and specific promises that the Lord makes to you! Our circumstances in this world threaten and change. The LORD, however, does not. He is true to his word and he cares for each of his children.
My suggestion: Don’t play “What if…?” Remember: The LORD is your keeper.