Psalm 121

August 25, 2021

1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

The Point:

When our safety and well-being is threatened, we look to the Lord for our constant protection and preservation.

How do we feel in the recitation of this Psalm? 

This could be one of the most comforting psalms in the Bible, along with Psalms 23 and 91. Throughout our lives we are constantly faced with treacherous conditions, not the least of which is the threat of physical harm and death. We climb on dangerous cliffs, covered with ice or loose gravel. Yet, we are confident in God’s protection. We look up at the majestic Rocky Mountains, and we know that the Creator of these mountains will preserve us. The Creator of the mighty sun and moon will see to it that we are treated well by the sun and the moon and all of His creation.

As you read these words, as you hear these words, tighten your grip on the truths they represent. Replace the word “thee” with “me.” Recite these words out loud if necessary, “The Lord is my keeper. The Lord is my shade upon my right hand. The sun shall not smite me by day.”

What does this Psalm say? 

Verse 1-2

On February 10, 2011, Time magazine published an article suggesting that, given the ongoing advancement of biogenetic technology, man would be immortal by the year 2045.

 Where a man looks for salvation is an indication of his faith. More than ever, man is looking to himself for salvation from death and other physical enemies. But modern man is too confident in himself. The average life expectancy today (which is 71-79 years of age), is not much different from Moses’ estimate in Psalm 90. Eventually, man will disappoint himself and prove to be a poor savior.

We must look beyond our circumstances, beyond the immediate concerns, beyond the enemies that surround us. This is what it means to lift our eyes to the hills. If we could just lift up our eyes to hills and to the heavens beyond, we would catch a glimpse of the powerful God who created all of this vast universe. Too often we are just shortsighted. All we can see are the immediate trials that confront us. We cannot see tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or into eternity. So as we study our circumstances, this becomes the sum total of our thoughts and we are quickly discouraged and distressed. That is when we need to look up and consider God who holds eternity in His hands, not to mention every single tomorrow that will ever come.  

Where else would you put your confidence? Only the God who created heaven and earth can control all of the elements within the universe to save us physically and spiritually.

Verses 3-5

These are the “keeping” verses of this psalm: the word “keep” is used in each verse. The word connotes a guard who watches over an army camp during the night hours. God does not slumber in His careful watch over you and me. Though we may be tempted to think that He has forgotten about us on occasion, faith demands that we receive these words. Your life is in His hands. He is watching your every step, that you will not slip a single inch. This is very impressive imagery. God is arranging the rocks and the sand under your feet, such that you will not slide off the cliff of life.

In the spiritual sense, we are not always “on our game.” This can be deadly, as we are truly in a dangerous battle (1 Tim. 1:19, Eph. 6:12ff). When the bullets are flying this way and that, only one who is 100% on his game will survive, and even then he would have to be “Superman” to guarantee his survival. A thousand things can go wrong. We grow weary. We lower our defenses. We struggle to stay awake in the battle, let alone develop adequate strategies to face off with the enemy. Thankfully, God does not slumber or sleep. He is infinitely capable of preserving us in the conflict.

“The Lord is your keeper.” The wording presents to us the picture of a personal bodyguard. It is one thing to be sleeping in the barracks with a single guard watching from a guard tower above the camp. It is another thing to have the God of heaven constantly beside us, personally providing protection for us. Do you find comfort from these words?

Verses 6-8

From the vantage point of the earth, the sun and the moon are the most intimidating proximate objects in our solar system. No earthly power, no international governing force, no nuclear bomb, nothing could possibly save us if the sun should tumble into the earth. In fact, there is no natural power in the whole universe that could save us from such a horrible predicament. God, on the other hand, can keep the sun in its place by a nudge of His little finger. While we may be subjected to endure a little evil here and there, we must see that God can turn the evil to good for us (Rom 8:28). Joseph experienced all sorts of evil intentions on the part of his brothers, Potiphar’s wife, and others, but at the end, he testified that “God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). In effect, God had protected him from all evil. Shortly before he was executed, the Apostle Paul testified that God had delivered him from all evil (2 Tim. 4:17,18). He knew that his own martyrdom would only perfect his witness to the Roman world as an Apostle of Christ (2 Tim. 4:17). Martyrdoms only exponentially increase a man’s total life impact for Christ, and these glorious deaths are immediately followed up by a glorious resurrection. As Christians we do need to see evil as real and present. It is true that evil will “try to get at us.” But God will thwart all of these attempts. What tremendous comfort the believer can receive from these words!

How do we apply this Psalm to our lives? 

We need to believe these words and act on them. When confronted by evil, we must not assume the worst outcome or even contemplate the worst. If we experience demonic attacks on our families, and our children exhibit rebellion, we must rather hope in the mercy of God. The man of faith says, “God can work through this. God will preserve us from all evil. He will work all things for good.”  Believing will only come by taking God on His Word.

We will take more risks if we hold to these truths. We will risk our lives for the sake of Christ. The missionary John Paton was surrounded by natives intending to destroy him on the island of Tanna. He writes later, “I could see the Lord Jesus Christ surveying all the scene. I knew that not a musket would fire, not a killing stone will be thrown without the permission of the Lord Jesus.”

How does this Psalm teach us to worship God? 

Every week that we “ascend” to our local church to worship God, we should thank the Lord for His protection over the previous week. Meditate on the tender love that Christ has for His church, especially since He has died for that church. This thought will frame our whole perspective of the church where we gather to worship.


1. What is an “Ascent” Psalm?

2. What are some of the other comforting psalms of faith?

3. Why can’t man save himself?

4. What are the biggest physical threats to life on earth?

5. What does the word “keep” mean, when we say that God “keeps” His people?

6. How did God protect Joseph and the Apostle Paul from evil despite the persecuting forces of evil?

Family Discussion Questions:

1. How secure do you feel in the love of God? When was the last time you felt great fear, anxiety, or insecurity? How did it resolve?