A SONG OF ASCENTS.
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. 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. 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. 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.
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) As the pilgrim traveled to Jerusalem for the feast, he often had to hike up through the mountains to get there. Some times the terrain was difficult and dangerous. Also, there was the possibility of attack. In the story of the good Samaritan, the victim was traveling just such a road to Jerusalem. The rough landscape of the mountains provided hiding places for potential robbers. But the worshiper here looked beyond the dangerous hills to their Maker as his “help” and “keeper”. These words are repeated in the psalm for emphasis. “Help” refers to an ally who provides strength and resources that you don’t have yourself. “Keeper” refers to a guard or protector. He called out to God for help, and trusted God to answers his prayer and provide the security he needed for the journey. God doesn’t sleep. He is always watching over his people. The “keeping” of God is further described by a shade, that protects from both sun and moon. This might seem a little awkward. We can understand protection from the sun, but why do we need protection from the moon? The idea here is that God is protecting us 24 hours a day.
2) The worshiper then applied these principles to the rest of his life. “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.” Every journey falls under his protection and care, not just the trip to public worship. Just as God will protect you on that difficult road to Jerusalem, so he will protect you everywhere else. So the worshiper turned this situation into a metaphor for all of life. We are in fact on a journey to a heavenly city, to the new Jerusalem, where Christ our Savior and King dwells. That journey is filled with many trials and troubles, many dangers known and unknown. But God is our helper and keeper from beginning to end. This promise does not mean we will be protected from pain and hardship. We certainly will face that. But this promise does mean we will endure through it and reach the final destination. As one scholar said, it’s not the promise of a cushioned life, but a well-armed life. So, every time this worshiper traveled to Jerusalem to be with God and his people, he had a living parable of the spiritual journey every believer must take on the road to glory. And our times of public worship represent the climax of that journey, and give us a taste of the end, when we shall gather with God and his people forever in the heavenly city.
Many of you are going through some hard times now. Not many have had to struggle with the virus yet, but many will suffer hardships that have come in trying to fight it. Let us pray that we can recover our times of public worship, so that we can better encourage each other on the road. Remember, the Lord is still our help and our keeper, against dangers known and unknown, through these hills of life.