Question: What will happen to me if I take the Christian life seriously?
- Jesus: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
- Put another way: What if I decided to embark on pilgrimage? It seems so dangerous, arduous, impossible.
- The ancient Hebrew pilgrim would’ve had similar questions. Psalm 121 was his song for those questions.
Answer: God will help you as you climb. He is your great resource for living the Christian life of faith.
1 — God is the greatest help for as you live the life of faith (1-2)
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Is not humankind in search of help? Do we not long for someone or something to help us?
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills: Perhaps he wondered about the arduous difficulties of the hills — how can I find help to get over those? I think he wondered about the false gods often connected to the hills (Jeremiah 3:2, Ezekiel 18) — is there anyone there who can help me? I think this is what he’s singing, because in the next line he confess the Lord, who made heaven and earth. That was usually a statement, not only of God’s power, but greatness over all the false, pagan gods.
We must recognize our need for help in pilgrimage. And the limitations of all other forms of help. Including the help we so often try to give to ourselves.
2 My help comes from the Lord: God is the greatest help for you as you live the life of faith. Your help must ultimately come from God.
- If you put the pressure of help onto a person (spouse, friend, life group), institution (family, church, government), or yourself (energy, education, earning power) you (and they) will wither.
The Spirit: John 14:15–17 (ESV)—15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
2 — God tirelessly works for you as you live the life of faith (3-4)
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
A new speaker is introduced. Father blessing a son? Teacher and a pupil? Priest to a pilgrim?
They assure the pilgrim on his journey.
We must speak ensuring words like Psalm 121 to one another.
3-4 Will not slumber / neither slumber nor sleep: God tirelessly works for you as you live the life of faith.
- God, unlike man, needs no sleep.
- His energy is infinite, while yours is not.
He who keeps Israel: This phrase helps us understand how God tirelessly works for us.
- Like He did for Israel (the man). While Jacob (who became Israel) slept, God protected him (Genesis 28).
- Like He did for Israel (the people).
- Because He does for Israel (His covenant).
3 — God perpetually shades you as you live the life of faith (5-6)
5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
From the sun: On the journey. You must live in a climate like theirs to appreciate this fully. Shade does not remove the heat. Shade makes the heat more bearable.
The fatigue brought on by the journey — God helps us there.
- John 7:37–38 (ESV)—37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
From the moon: On the journey.
- Perhaps: night pressures, time pressures.
- Likely: mental pressures — lunacy.
- see 2 Corinthians 10:3–5
Think of the way God led Israel through the wilderness.
- Exodus 13:21 (ESV)—21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
Bottom line: He helps by making all pressures bearable in Him. At each new level of mission.
4 — God forever blesses you as you live the life of faith (7-8)
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
verse 8 — Every time this pilgrim went out and came in during pilgrimage.
verse 7 — His life (soul) would be kept.
verse 7 — He would be kept from all evil.
We know what this doesn’t mean (Jesus, Paul, church).
- 2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV)—12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
- James 1:2 (ESV)—2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
He will get you through the pilgrimage unscathed. He will deliver us through our pilgrimage.
- Partial understanding of this from Paul — 2 Timothy 4:18 (ESV)—18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Question: What will happen to me if I take the Christian life seriously? This song is designed to bolster our faith for the life of the disciple, the life of faith. God will help us as we go. God will keep us as we climb!