Praying the Psalms: Psalm 121

Psalm 121 would be a ‘lock’ in the Very Best of the Psalms collection for many – a sweet reminder of God’s steadfast faithfulness.

It’s part of a ‘book within a book’: the Songs of Ascent that the Israelites would sing together as they ascended the hill on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

121 is beautiful because it focuses on the faithfulness of God rather than our frailty. Like those climbing the hill, we have a tendency to take our eyes off the One in whom I help lies. For the Israelites, this often meant fashioning other gods out of stone and wood and putting them in the ‘high places’. There seems this ongoing cycle of repentance and rebellion through the Old Testament as incoming kings purify and consecrate the city by tearing down the gods of their own construction and turn them back to the maker of heaven and earth. And then, within a generation, doing evil and creating a hundred more gods in their place.

We like ourselves a good god. We go about seeking these gods through the things we deem super-important. These are gods we place between us and our creator. So when the tribes ascend the hill, reminding themselves of where they’re real hope lies, their first sighting is likely the gods of their own construction. In that moment, there’s a realisation: that’s not real hope. Their hope/our hope is higher. And stronger. And greater. Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.

Can the objects of our affection deliver us steadfast love? Safety and security? Can they keep us from evil? Preserve our lives and watch over our coming and our going. Well, CCT can do some of those things (!) but it’s hardly moderated through the currency of love.

121 is a catalyst, reminding us that our living hope is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to a inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading (1 Peter 1:3-4). It’s an invitation to turn again to Jesus and, in His light, be reassured of His preeminence, all-sufficiency and everlasting love. And to know that it is Jesus who does the heavy lifting and presents the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that holy and blameless in Him (Ephesians 5:27).

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.