Daily Thought for: 9th March


Psalm 121. 1-8

The fifteen Songs of Degrees, or Songs of Ascents, are grouped in five sets of three. Psalms 121 is in the first triplet. Although David wrote at least some of them, these psalms received recognition as part of the sacred Scriptures after the Babylonian exile, Ps. 137.1-4. That exile ended Israel’s addiction to idolatry. The opening of this psalm expresses that so well. No longer looking to the high places and their worship, the remnant that returned from Babylon looked to Jehovah for help. Instead of trusting in various gods to produce rain, fruitfulness, and blessing, they acknowledged the One who made heaven and earth. Three times in the year, they ascended to Jerusalem to celebrate their harvests.

Preservation is the leading thought in this psalm. Six times the same word appears. Its translation varies: ‘keepeth’, vv. 3, 4; ‘keeper’, v. 5; ‘preserve’, twice in verse 7, once in verse 8. In the first two verses, the psalmist uses ‘me’ and ‘my’. In verse 3 and verses 5 to 8, he uses ‘thee’ and ‘thy’. The first verses are obviously personal, ‘my help’. The remaining verses, apart from verse 4, are likewise individual, because he says, ‘thy soul’, in verse 7. The fourth verse is different, referring to the nation. God’s shepherd-like care had preserved the nation through the many difficulties of its history, through the exile, and through the opposition they faced in returning and rebuilding the temple and city. Though it appeared that He had failed to act on her behalf, He had not, nor would He ever slumber or sleep through the nation’s night, no matter how long that night. Now as they joyously intermingled at their festival, they sang with confidence. Each one affirmed that his help was in the Lord. They could tell each other that the Lord would attentively watch over, guard, and keep them’as the apple of the eye’, Ps. 17.8. As God was faithful to His Word in keeping the nation, so they could safely trust His care for their journeys, their families, their fields, and their wellbeing, As they came and went from their feasts, they could count on His keeping until their glorious future. Israel’s priests said, ‘The Lord bless thee, and keep thee’, Num. 6. 24.


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