There are some important, initial observations that we need to keep in mind as we study Psalm 121. First, the name of God, “the LORD”, appears five times in these eight verses, and this repetition serves to highlight the God-centeredness of the psalm. Second, the verb “to keep” appears six times, pervading the psalm and is doubtless the point of emphasis of this song as a whole. The point, as we began to see in yesterday’s post, is that God keeps, watches, and guards His people.
Keeping that in mind, we continue through the second half of the poem today, beginning in Psalm 121:5, in which the writer elaborates on three images of God to support and defend his thesis that God keeps us. First, he states, “the Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.” In this statement, the pronoun “your” appears three times, underscoring the writer’s emphasis that God is keeping you. Then, in verse 6, the writer elaborates more on what it means that God keeps His people. He states, “the sun will not strike…day…moon…night.” In other words, the LORD will protect His people from danger at all times, from the dangers of both the day and the night.
The second image of God comes in Psalm 121:7, in which the writer states that God will protect His people from all evil (both evil within their own self and evil committed against them by other peoples). The second line of this verse is both an intensification and a reverse consequentiality of the first line: in stating “he will keep your life”, the author implies that God shields the whole being. It is a comprehensive keeping of a person, both inner and outer, emotional and mental, social and physical.
Finally, in Psalm 121:8, the writer focuses even more on God’s watchful care. He states, “the Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Now, as readers we can envision people moving about their homes and their cities, and as the watchful and keeping God, we now catch a glimpse of God shielding and guarding His people wherever they go.
The people of God do not need to worry whether their God is protecting them. The psalmist specifically declares that the LORD keeps His people through and through – in and out, day and night, wherever they go. The psalmist emphasizes this glorious reality by explaining that not only does God keep His people spiritually, morally, and geographically, He also keeps them as it pertains time. Time is not a factor for God’s keeping. Rather, as the final line states, God keeps His people forevermore. There is no end to His providential watchfulness and care.