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  • Writer's pictureGODVERSITY

What Does It Mean When God Says He Is Your Guardian?


This is the second of the fifteen “Songs of Ascent” which were psalms compiled for the pilgrims to sing together as they journeyed to the three major feasts in Jerusalem. The festivals at which all males were obligated to appear were the Feast of Passover/Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Exodus 23.9–10; 34.18–24; Deuteronomy 16.16). The women were excused from mandatory attendance at the festivals because their regular cycle of fertility would render them ceremonially unclean and unable to attend the temple worship (Leviticus 15). By the time of Jesus, however, it was customary for women to travel to Jerusalem with their family and attend worship meetings if they were able. As they traveled, in families and clans, these songs were on their lips.


Psalm 121 fits well into this scenario. As the pilgrims travel to Jerusalem—and remember that they were walking; some may have been on donkeys but there were no means of mass travel at that time and neither horses nor camels were common in Ancient Israel—they walked through mountainous country. In their history, invaders and marauders lived in the mountains and swooped down from there on the unwary.

So they sing,“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” (Psalm 121.1–2).

This psalm is both a reminder and a celebration of the fact that the LORD is the true protector of Israel. A well-ordered military was a good thing as was a benign ruler. But without God’s protection all human efforts at protection would be worthless.This psalm is about the fact that the LORD is the true source of protection in life. Note that the word “keep” (keep, keeps, keeper) is used seven times in these short eight verses.

The LORD keeps His own, meaning He guards or carefully watches over them. This is just as true for us on our earthly pilgrimage as it was for the people of God under the old covenant.What is left out of this psalm, through evidently assumed, is that these ideas are only true for those who faithfully seek to follow and obey him. The exile proved that the LORD would not “keep” his people when they flagrantly disobey him. But as we walk with him in faithful obedience, he watches over us and guides us to our destination in his presence for eternity. The psalmist is not promising the absence of pain or even failure. But he is promising that, amidst seas of adversity, the elect will remain upheld, not because of their own doing, but because of the preserving hand of God. No one can snatch God’s sheep out of His hand (John 10:27–30), and the one who has justified will never again condemn (Romans 8:33–34). What mercy! What promise! The sure confidence we have today that we will remain with God tomorrow is God himself. Thank Him and remain dependent on Him as you plead for His sustaining grace. Look to Your Guardian Whether your sleepless nights are filled with tears and prayers, or struggling with conflicting thoughts, God is with you with all the energy and grace you need. Don’t forget Him. Look to Him at any hour –– in the light or in the night. God’s guardianship means that He ensures our perseverance. He constantly watches over His own - you and me.


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Inspired by: Pastor Tom Lewellen sermon.

Verse selection by Jeffery D. Kooistra.


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