Psalm 121: Ask for Help!
June 24, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
2 Kings 22-23, Psalm 121, Luke 6:43-49, Philippians 4:8-13
The next step in this journey to joy is found in the psalm in front of us today. It is to call upon God for help.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (121:1)
For many of us, it is quite difficult to admit that we need help. But we will not journey very far with God without learning to humbly ask for God’s assistance. Would you cry out to God today and ask him for help? He certainly can help, for he “made heaven and earth.” The Creator of all lacks no power or ability to intervene in your life. And as the rest of the psalm then makes clear, he also wants to help. Let us then ask him!
God “keeps” God’s people (121:3, 4, 5, 7, 8); he looks after them, protects them, guides them, “keeps” them. He does not fall asleep (121:4). He does not only answer cries for help during office hours. He’s a 24/7 God, available and able at all times of day and night. He will not let you stumble (121:3) in your walk through life. He is the “shade” at your right hand (121:5). In the hot sun of the Middle East, the picture of God as “shade” is especially evocative. “The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night” (121:6). Why the “moon”? In ancient times, the moon was often associated with evil or trouble or difficulty (see our word “lunatics,” coming from the Latin for moon, luna). God will not only protect you from the hard attacks of noon day opposition, but also from the creeping evil of midnight apparition too.
In fact, the psalmist says that God “will keep you from all evil” (121:7). In what sense could that be true? Is he saying that no Christian ever experiences any evil at all? That cannot be the promise for we know by our own experience and the testimony of history that Christians have had to contend with evil from time-to-time. Plus, the Bible tells us to “resist the devil” and advises us that we are in a spiritual battle. Presumably, then, we still have to contend with evil in this world. The fight against evil can seem very real.
In what sense, therefore, are those who follow God kept from “all” evil? In the sense that God takes even the evil and sadness and terrifying horror that we may experience and turns those things to good for us and glory to him. Hard as it is sometimes to believe, extraordinary as it is even to say, God’s way is to weave even evil into a tapestry of salvation and blessing and good and glory.
We see this at its most extreme at the cross: the greatest evil and yet the greatest good to save sinners. As Joseph said to his brothers at the end of the book of Genesis, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20). The evil that we experience, for those who love God, is not then finally evil, but is by the alchemy of sovereign grace transmuted to glory.
And this is true wherever we are: our going out and our coming in; as we travel (sometimes this psalm has been called the traveler’s psalm); as we journey through life; in all places—and at all times, “from this time forth and forevermore” (121:8).
If this is the God that we serve, why would we not ask him for help? Ask him to help you with your difficulties, stresses, sins, and troubles today! Your help does not come from the hills, not from some other practical source of help, but comes directly from God himself! Ask for help!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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