Under God’s Watchful Eye

Peace in Christ Jesus
Image by Loci Lenar via Flickr

Jesus reminds us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

What do you say to yourself when you are pressed in on every side by dangerous situations? What do you do when you face troubles?

Many times I have turned to Psalm 121 where I find a marvelous spirit of deep peace as the Psalmist turns his eyes to heaven and expresses his confidence in the LORD God.  The weary pilgrim experiences God’s protection under His constant watchful eye.

Ancient roads in the Middle East consisted of only well-trodden paths across the valleys, along rivers and the mountain passes. Many a traveler sang this song to give himself hope and courage along his journey. Have you ever whistled or sang a hymn in the dark to remind yourself of God’s sustaining grace?  I have rested in deep peace as I listened to the machine guns and mortar fire in the distance in the middle of the night. On other occasions I have gone to sleep knowing there were 35,000 leftist militias surrounding the place where I slept.

The Psalmist gave himself courage as he longed to see the hills of Judah in the distance, which reminded him of God’s care and protection. “To look unto the hills,” meant looking to God as one’s true help. When the Psalmist looked at the hills, he saw beyond them to the One who made the mountains (v. 2). The poet develops the idea of putting one’s trust in the God who  “watches over,” “preserves,” “keeps,” “exercises great care over,” and “guards” His people.

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From whence shall my help come?” (v. 1).

The Psalmist is full of hope. His thoughts move beyond the hills, mountains and the universe to the Creator God. His help will come from the God who made the mountains. This is his living hope. The great Creator God who made the heavens and the earth is our helper in time of trouble.

The Psalmist explores practical applications as to how the LORD helps His faithful followers. He is our divine protector who is always alert to dangers we face in the day or night. Our God never sleeps or slumbers. “He will not allow your foot to slip” (vv. 3a-4). Can we not but sleep soundly when God is guarding us on our journey?

Who is your “keeper”? Who exercises great care over you? Who takes care of you in your most difficult crisis? Who guards with His love and protection? “The LORD is your keeper” (v. 5). The LORD watches over me.

Personalize this Psalm by reverently changing the pronoun “you” in verses 3-8 to “my.” Put your own name in the place of “Israel.”

How does God protect me? The word “shadow” or “shade” in verse five symbolizes protection and defense. The LORD is the source of protection for His people against the dangers in days and nights (cf. Isa. 25:4). Our protection is in “the shadow of His wings” (Psa. 78:8; 36:7). He even hides His people in the shadow of His hand (Isa. 49:2; Jn. 10:28-29).

Charles Spurgeon makes practical application of this great truth that the LORD God is our protector at all times and in all circumstances. “The purposes of God: the divine attributes; the immutable promises; the covenant, ordered in all things and sure; the providence, predestination, and proved faithfulness of the Lord—these are the hills to which we must lift up our eyes, and from these our help must come.”

The apostle Paul gave a list of dangers he faced in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, and summarized them in Romans 8:35-39 when he asked the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (v. 35). Paul’s response is, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (v. 37).

I may fall flat on my face in defeat. I may feel like the greatest failure in this life. I may feel beaten down by my enemies. But the Psalmist sees the unchanging love and grace of God watching over him. God does not change, therefore His love for me does not change. It is eternal and He has demonstrated that love once and for all at Calvary.

The apostle Paul says absolutely nothing can separate me from God’s matchless love. You will hold me in the palm of Your sovereign steady hand. I am divinely loved, completely forgiven, and forever set free through the blood of Jesus Christ Your beloved Son. Nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39).

Why can we say this with conviction? “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. . . . The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever” (Psa. 121:2, 8).


Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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