Lift Your Eyes - Ps. 121
The topography of Jerusalem is unique in that God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, has inscribed His Name upon the mountains and valleys. We are told in 2 Chronicles 6:6 that God chose Jerusalem for His Name to be there. The people of ancient Israel, whether aware of the distinctive signature of God upon their city or not, understood that Jerusalem, by virtue of the temple's location, was the place of the manifest presence of God. So, as they left behind the lies they had believed, they continued their journey upward with Psalm 121.
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.
The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.
As the people were ascending into the presence of God, it required them to look upward. After pleading with God to deliver them from their delusion, they choose to focus on God rather than circumstances because only the God who created the universe can aid them in their time of trial. This is a timeless truth. The best place to look is up to God rather than remain focused on where I am.
There is an acknowledgment that God holds us steady, not allowing us to waver, and that He does so without growing weary of it. In His tender care, we are guarded, hidden in His shadow. It is reminiscent of Psalm 91:1, which states, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." As Maker of Heaven and Earth, nothing in the heavens (the sun or moon) can hurt us, nor can the evil of others or that found within our souls affect us as we place ourselves in the keeping of the One who can preserve us in all circumstances, both coming and going.
In Matthew 23:37, Jesus lamented over Jerusalem's unwillingness to allow Him to guard them "the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings," so while they prayed one thing with their lips, their hearts were far from allowing God to do so. We have a keeper. The question is whether we are willing to be kept? We have a preserver. Are we ready to be preserved and guarded?
One of the things about being under guard is that we are confined to the place where the One who keeps us is. That being the case, how precious is God's presence to us? Are we willing to stay where He is rather than striking out on our own, going only where He goes, doing only what He does? In a poignant conversation in which Moses prays to know God's ways, he declares, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here." Moses continues and asks to see God's glory, and God answers in the affirmative, but first Moses is put in the cleft of the rock, covered by God's hand (Ex. 33:12-13). Being kept in place was a prerequisite to seeing God's glory.
This is a question we must answer if we desire God's manifest glory in our midst. Am I willing to keep my eyes lifted and focused on Him? Am I willing to be held and preserved? It is not up to us where and how God does so; the Guard determines the place of safety for one's good. But if we choose to submit, we can wholeheartedly sing, "The LORD guards my going and coming from this time forth and forever."