GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
Life is a journey. As Christian travelers, we’re simply passing through the Temporary on our way to the Eternal. During the trip, we often face dangers, difficult terrain, ups and downs. What can prepare us for the journey? Psalm 121, often called the Traveler’s Psalm, provides the answers.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; The Lord
is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from
all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your
going out and your coming in
From this time forth,
and even forevermore.
When traveling, how much planning do we do? We may spend hours on the internet researching the best fares and best accommodations. If driving, we may take the car in for a tune-up and tire rotation. But at what point in our travel plans do we include God? Does He come first or last; before the ticket purchase or after the baggage claim?
While our own travel plans are important, they are not solely responsible for bringing us to our destination. God is. Knowing this, the writer of Psalm 121 placed God first—literally, from the first verses, saying, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord.”
Lord in capital letters is a translation of the Hebrew word YAVEH, meaning “I AM.” This name of God, perhaps more than any other, emphasizes His eternal nature and unchanging faithfulness. So we ask, “Lord, are You with me on this trip?” True to His name He answers, “I AM.” We ask, “Lord, are You with me in this hospital room?” He answers, “I AM. That is My name. That is My promise.” Whether traveling between continents or through a troubled marriage, God Himself is with us every step of the way. And to know this is to be prepared for the journey.
After reminding us that God is our constant Helper, the psalmist adds the words, “Who made heaven and earth.” God created the universe. He made everything from nothing. Are we to believe then that our lives and journeys are too hard for the Lord? The reality is, our problems aren’t too big. Our view of God is too small. Why wouldn’t we press on in any godly endeavor, knowing that our God made heaven and earth? To know this is to be prepared for the journey.
The psalmist wrote of God, “He will not allow your foot to be moved.” These words convey more than personal protection. They are also God’s personal guarantee that if we trust Him and follow His Word, He will never allow our trust—our “footing”—to be put to shame. Consider this: the God “who made heaven and earth” is so involved in your daily life that He cares about your feet. But then, should we expect anything less from the God Who led the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years, without allowing one sandal to wear out? To know this is to be prepared for the journey.
As parents, we wish we could watch over our children twenty-four hours a day, but we can’t. We wish we lived closer to them, but we don’t. But Someone is constantly watching over them and us—God. We’re told twice in Psalm 121, “He who keeps you will not slumber” and again, “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” Every second of every day of every year of your life, God Himself is watching over you. And to know this is to be prepared for the journey.
Mark Weis is pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Lemmon, South Dakota.