Reading Time: 7 Minutes
Psalms 120-134 were sung by pilgrims who traveled to Jerusalem for three annual festivals.
As the people spent their days walking many miles to Jerusalem, they sang about faith in and dependence on God.
Help from the Lord
A trip on foot to Jerusalem was both joyous and scary. Pilgrims journeyed to the place where the presence of God was believed to be most available.
On the way to their meeting with God, people could possibly encounter wild animals or bandits. That made their journey potentially dangerous.
On the way, they sang about their love for and trust in God.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121.1-2)
These verses ask two questions from us.
(1) Does our journey through life have purpose? Are we intentionally heading somewhere?
The people of God were expending energy and taking risks in the belief that they would meet the One True God in Jerusalem.
We would do well to ask ourselves if we are as purposeful as were the pilgrims of this Psalm. What sort of energy do we expend to seek the presence of God?
Are we willing to adjust our schedules in the belief that God will reward us with his presence?
(2) In the face of the anxieties of our current existence, are we trusting help to come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth?
Primitive weapons in the days of the Psalm writers were no match for wild animals or bandits with superior weapons. The people knew that they were traveling to meet the One who was all-powerful. They trusted his protection during their journey.
There are many adversaries in 2020. In the face of threats to our lives and livelihood, the safest place to be is to fully rely on God.
We know that we are truly trusting God when we seek to know and do his will in a personal friendship relationship with him.
God’s Not Asleep
As pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem slept, they certainly posted sentries to stay on the lookout for dangerous animals or people. There was always a risk that the sentry would nod off to sleep and leave the camp unprotected.
As they walked to the place where they would worship God, they sang a song about how he would definitely not fall asleep and leave them vulnerable.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121.3-4)
We know that God never sleeps, but sometimes it feels as if he is absent. The death of a loved one, chronic pain or a disaster of some kind can cause people to question the presence of God.
Some levels of grief and suffering lead people to wonder if God is actually good and loving. This is a radical belief, but it is sadly entertained by many.
The Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Wiesel, tells the story of a brutal hanging in a Nazi concentration camp. Among the persons being executed in front of the people in the camp was a small boy.
The boy was too light to break his neck when hung. He writhed in pain and agony until he finally suffocated. Several people in the crowd began to cry out with one voice, “Where is God? Where is God?”
Someone in the crowd spoke up and said, “He’s right there. He is with that little boy.”
God does not sleep, even when we feel he is absent. God is present with us, even when and especially when we suffer.
The Lord’s Provision
If the previous verses recalled the camp at night and the need for vigilance on the part of their sentries, the next verses speak of their tiring walk to Jerusalem.
God watched over them at night and provided help during the day.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night. (Psalm 121.5-6)
“Lord” is much more than a title we give God. If we call God, “Lord,” then we are his servants.
As his servants, we do his will. We serve his interests.
Jesus made it clear that servants obediently serve their Master. He said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7.21).
As our Lord, he is committed to our care. Take a moment to remember the way God cares for his servants.
(1) When and how did you first enter into a personal relationship with Jesus?
(2) Remember an occasion when God protected you from danger.
(3) Don’t forget that Jesus “always lives to make intercession” for you (Hebrews 7.25).
(4) Read the first five verses of Psalm 103. They outline the benefits that come to us from our loving heavenly Father.
Protected from Evil
Imagine how this song may have impressed a child. The child is with family and friends on a journey to Jerusalem to meet God. They all sing as they walk, possibly for days to their destination.
Not only does the child sing, but also hears the elders tell the stories of God’s work among his people. She hears the exciting stories of how God used Joseph to prepare for a terrible famine.
She also learns about Moses and how God delivered his people from oppressive slavery. The meaning of why the group of pilgrims are going to Jerusalem is highlighted as stories are told every night before retiring for sleep.
All of the stories that tell of God’s relationship with his people add meaning to the songs that are sung during the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
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 on and forevermore. (Psalm 121.7-8)
Here’s a question to consider. Do your children and grandchildren know that God will lovingly care for them today and forevermore?
What Bible stories have you told them that will fill them with confidence in God’s provision for their lives?
In what way to you build expectation in the lives of your children that a meeting with God is abundantly beneficial?
May We Pray for You?
The prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church is honored to pray for you. Please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and so will the prayer team.