Summary: Not only does our help come from the Lord, but the Lord is alsokeeping a watchful eye upon us. We are never out of God’s care.
Psalm 121:1-8 “God’s Watchful Eye”
While traveling up to Jerome the other day, my mind wandered and I began to think what it must have been like traveling though the area as a pioneer. It must have been a daunting adventure. Certainly the trip that now takes us two hours must have taken several days. The roads were rough and the dangers real.
Psalm 121 is called a pilgrim psalm. It was a psalm that was recited by people has they traveled and made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for one of the Holy Days. I believe that there travels, which took place several thousand years ago, were more like the travels of Arizona’s first pioneers, than our four lane highway, air-conditioned, GPS guided and cell phone accompanied travels.
Though the travel that inspired this psalm may not be like our current transportation, it is said that “All of life is a journey.” This psalm speaks to us as we walk through life and reflect on how God interacts with us during our journey.
HELP COMES FROM GOD
There were several Holy Days during the year, when the people were encouraged to travel to Jerusalem and the temple. These were often long, arduous and dangerous trips. Robbers preyed upon the pilgrims, robbing them of their possessions and the gifts they were planning to offer to the Lord at the temple. In order to make the journey safer, people would travel in groups and they would place sentries on nearby hills to keep watch for marauding bands of robbers.
The author of this psalm looked to the surrounding hills, as he traveled to Jerusalem, and he saw more than a lone sentry watching over him. He saw the Lord. His hope for safety and security was not invested solely in the strength and ability of humankind. He understood that as a person of God, the Lord was watching over him, keeping him safe and secure, and protecting him from any danger.
The God, who was watching over him, was a great and powerful God. He was the God of all creation. His protector was great and powerful—and never slept. No evil could get past his watchful eye.
I’m from Minnesota and I know what it is like to try to walk with poor footing. Every winter we slip and slide while trying to keep ourselves standing. It is not an easy task. I have also been on hiking trails that had loose gravel and sand. Travel was difficult and the risk of injury was great.
When our footing isn’t sure, we become totally focused on walking. We become inwardly focused seeking only our safety and our welfare. Slippery footing prevents us not only from enjoying life, but also from experiencing the abundant life of living beyond ourselves.
God is with us in our journey and provides a sure footing for us. He is our rock and our foot does not slip when standing on him.
• The rock that God provides for our lives is the Cross of Jesus Christ—our salvation and the basis of our new relationship with God.
• God’s steadfast love and commitment to never leave us or forsake us is another rock in our lives.
Standing secure, we are able to look beyond the next step—beyond ourselves—and live an abundant life using our gifts and talents to serve others and to glorify God.
Sunburn, sunstroke and the threat of being moonstruck are constant threats to the traveler in the desert climes of the Middle East. The psalmist sees God as a shade that protects him from the effects of the sun and the moon.
Robbers and thieves—the presence of evil—are some of the threats that we face in daily life. The psalmist has already reflected on how God keeps watch over us and protects us from the forces of evil. The daily pressures, challenges, and struggles of daily life—as in escapable as the sun and the moon—are other challenges we face. The psalmist sees God as a shade that protects us from the damaging effects of daily life.
St. Paul writes to the church of Corinth, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies” (II Cor. 4:8-10).
God is our constant companion through life. His strength and presence in our lives enables us to overcome the challenges that we face—to remain strong, faithful and hopeful.
THE WATCHFUL EYE
Like a good parent, God knows our going out and our coming in. We matter to God. God is not too distracted with cosmic occurrences to neglect us. God is intimately involved in our lives.