My bride and I live in a senior community. Everyone who lives here is at least 55 years of age or older. Our community is a prime candidate for the coronavirus infection to attack.
Even though that is the case, the occurrences of this virus here have been fairly light, comparatively speaking. There is extensive practicing of social distancing and significantly reduced group events and activities.
Our church is one of the few in the area with an outdoor venue — the parking lot is set up a lot like a drive-in movie theater — and our members have been able to attend church outdoors while practicing social distancing in their cars and golf carts.
In days like these, whether infected with the COVID-19 virus or not, no matter where you live and no matter what “practices” you seem to follow, there is no one who is exempt from the trouble this unseen enemy has wrought upon us.
Psalm 121 seems to have a very powerful and very personal message for us in times like these. This song asks the question that most if not all of us have been asking from the beginning of this pandemic crisis: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?”.
How many times have we heard people ask that question, either as a report on the evening news or almost constantly on social media?
Those familiar words, “Where do I go for help?” seem to echo consistently these days throughout our conversations with neighbors, friends, or even fellow customers now waiting in line most every day to enter the grocery store!
But fortunately the psalmist does not stop with the question; he also provides the answer when he confidently states, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Now if you are like me, that answer, though not unexpected, comes across as a bit trite and lame, does it not? I mean, after all, what other answer would you expect the Bible to proclaim? “The Lord is your helper” — OK, I’ve got it, but what on earth (or heaven for that matter!) does that mean?
Well, in this psalm, the psalmist gives us a hint as to the meaning of the answer to that question. One of the major principles of observation in studying the Bible is to look for things that are repeated. And here in this short seven verses which make up Psalm 121, there is one term which is repeated not just once or even twice, but five times (Some translations even have it occurring six times!)!
It must be important! Five times in this psalm, after declaring that “my help comes from the Lord”, the psalmist repeats the phrase, or one very much like it, “The Lord watches over you”.
There are a couple of very interesting aspects about this expression, “The Lord watches over you”.
First, the significance of the Lord watching over us is found in the name used for God here. One might expect to find God here referred to by the name Elohim, the sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful God, the Creator of the universe who has all things under his control.
After all, the second phrase in verse 2 even refers to Him as “the Maker of heaven and earth”. While that aspect of God’s character is no doubt on display here, the name that is actually used here is Yahweh, the God who is personal, caring, loving, and very much concerned for you and me as individuals. When we read that “The Lord himself watches over you”, as one version puts it, it is entirely personal.
Second, He is “watching over us”. That means Yahweh, our personal protector, is taking care of us. He is providing for us, He is protecting us.
Nothing we will ever encounter in the world we live in will dilute his grace in our lives. Nothing – absolutely nothing – has the power to get between us and our watchful God.
Today, in the age of social distancing and quarantining and stay-at-home orders and the like, it is possible for you to feel isolated and all alone.
But you should know that there is a God who is watching over you. There is a God who cares for you and protects you. There is a God who seeks your worship and adoration.
The only mistake you and I can make is to doubt or question that He cares. The psalmist here tells us that He neither slumbers nor sleeps, that He is watching over your comings and goings both now and forevermore.
The beauty of those verses s that they are using a figure of speech called a merism. That means that when we read that the Lord will watch over your coming and going, He will be watching over those two situations and everything in between.
When the Bible says that He is watching over you both now and forevermore, we understand that Yahweh is watching over us, guarding our hearts and our minds and our bodies every moment of time in between both now and forevermore. In other words, He’s got our backs no matter where no matter when!
God, our personal, loving, caring God who also is the One who created the universe and is in sovereign control of everything that happens here – that GOD IS WATCHING OVER YOU AND IS ALWAYS ON CALL!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.